Things are starting to heat up and summer is just around the corner. You and about 90%, or 1 million of your fellow Virginians will be traveling this upcoming Memorial Day holiday, according to AAA. Nationwide, AAA says more than 39 million people will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday weekend. Drivers and passengers, beware: You are four times as likely to die in a traffic accident over the Memorial Day weekend as over a regular weekend, according to a personal finance website. In assessing driving risks, the personal finance website compared traffic fatalities over all the major holidays using statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Memorial Day led with an average of 312 fatal accidents per year over the period 2011 to 2015.
Hopefully your holiday goes as planned and you are not injured in a car accident. However, if you are hurt in a different state than where you live, you are probably wondering how your insurance, and receiving compensation for your injuries, works. As an experienced Virginia and North Carolina car accident injury attorney I know that car accident laws vary from state to state and your best bet is to contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer in the area where you were injured.
Here in Virginia we are known as an at fault state, when it comes to car accidents. In states like ours, if you are hurt or your car is at all damaged then you can file a claim with the other driver or driver’s insurance company, assuming that they are at fault. This type of claim is what is known as a “third party claim.” For example, if you are stopped at a red light and are rear ended by a driver or are involved in an accident while driving your car for work or a company vehicle, you would file a claim with the other person’s or your company’s insurance company.
Now here’s the kicker, Virginia is one of the few states that still uses what is known as contributory negligence, meaning if the victim’s negligence “contributed” materially to the accident, the injured victim cannot recover. In simplest terms, this means that contributory negligence bars a victim from seeking recovery through a personal injury claim if it is determined that the victim contributed, even only slightly, to the accident that caused their injury. So, for example, if you cross the street in a part of the road that is not a designated crosswalk and are hit by a speeding, drunk driver, the fact that you crossed outside a crosswalk could potentially bar you from recovering anything for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses caused by the carelessness of the drunk, speeding at-fault party.