After a Virginia car accident, police typically investigate the crash and determine who is at fault. The police report is not admissible in a civil case, but insurance adjusters rely on it in their initial decisions.
If an insurance company refuses to acknowledge its client as the person who caused the accident or if there is a dispute over the damages, your case may go a civil lawsuit. This turns your “claim” into a “case.”
I’m Ed Atkinson, and as a Virginia car accident lawyer, it’s my job to build a case that proves the other driver was negligent.
Contact me for a free consultation, or keep reading to learn more about how fault is determined.
Who Investigates the Accident?
Insurance companies usually send claim adjusters investigate crashes involving their policyholders. Adjusters review police reports, photographs, videos, and witness statements to make their initial “liability determination” which means “who is likely at fault.”
An experienced personal injury lawyer will investigate and build a case proving the other driver caused the accident and owes you money damages.
If the insurer continues to argue over liability, the case may go before a judge or jury, who will make a decision based on the evidence. Having the right attorney on your side levels the playing field against powerful insurance companies. As an experienced trial lawyer, I am ready to fight for you in court if your case doesn’t settle.
For a free legal consultation, call 757-648-8579
What Factors Are Considered to Assess Fault?
When determining civil liability after a car accident, juries must consider various factors to understand what happened and identify the responsible party.
These factors include:
- Witness statements
- Skid marks and debris
- Vehicle positions
- Physical damage to the vehicles and points of impact
- Surveillance camera footage, if available
- Weather and road conditions at the time
Jurors have to take the evidence and “put the pieces together” as best they can. Unlike other states, Virginia generally does not allow crash reconstruction specialists to give testimony at trial.
How does Virginia’s Contributory Negligence Rule Work?
Virginia follows a rule of contributory negligence, meaning if you are found even 1% at fault for the accident, you aren’t allowed to recover compensation. This system is different from most states, which may allow for partial recovery based on each person’s percentage of fault.
Proving the other driver was 100% liable and that you did nothing to cause the accident is critical in Virginia. It’s my job to build a case that leaves no room for accusations of negligence on your part.
When building your case, I follow the motto that “overkill is still a kill,” meaning I would rather have more evidence than I need than not enough.
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What Damages Can I Claim If Liability Is Established?
Once civil liability is established in your car accident case, we can seek various damages to address the physical, financial, and emotional damage of the crash.
Every case is different, but common damages include the following:
- Medical expenses from accident injuries, including future projected costs
- Income you lost due to your inability to work during your recovery
- Repair or replacement expenses for damaged vehicles and property
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability or loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death damages
- Punitive damages (common in cases involving drunk driving)
Your compensation depends on proving the other driver’s sole fault in the accident, which is why you may need a Richmond car accident lawyer.
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How Can an Attorney Strengthen My Personal Injury Claim?
A knowledgeable attorney like me will take the appropriate steps to prove fault rests entirely with the other driver.
I typically do this by:
- Gathering police reports, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence
- Consulting with accident reconstruction experts if needed
- Challenging any claims that you were negligent and contributed to the accident
- Negotiating with insurers
- Taking your case to trial if the insurance company refuses to pay you what is right
Do I Really Need an Attorney?
While you can represent yourself in your personal injury claim, it is not usually a good idea. Insurance adjusters, particularly out-of-state ones, often deny any Virginia claim initially. I have experience dealing with these companies and know how to counter their tactics.
While insurance adjusters may seem friendly, they are not on your side. For example, you should never agree to record a statement without talking to a lawyer first. The insurance adjuster could use something you say to decrease your settlement or deny your claim. They may also use stall tactics to wear you down so you settle for less than your injuries are worth.
With an experienced attorney fighting for you, the chance of a successful case outcome increases significantly. On average, accident victims with attorneys walk away with more money, even after the attorney fee comes out.
Contact Atkinson Law for a Free Case Evaluation
After a car accident, you may have a long and painful journey ahead of you. Money should be the least of your worries during this already stressful time. As a seasoned Virginia car accident attorney, I understand the hurdles you face, and I am here to help you reclaim your life.
Allow me to fight for the money you deserve. I will gladly travel to meet you at the hospital, in the comfort of your home, or at another convenient location. I also offer phone and internet consultations.
Contact Atkinson Law today to schedule your free, zero-risk case evaluation.