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Frederick County, VA Accident Highlights the Importance of Understanding the Virginia Contributory Negligence Rule

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An accident in Frederick County, Virginia on Thursday is under investigation by Virginia State Police after one man died.

Around 12:00 p.m., Wesley Lee Helsley was driving a Chevy Blazer west on Tasker Road in Stephens City when an elderly woman driving a Toyota Camry crossed eastbound Tasker Road on Lynn Drive and hit the Chevy on the left-rear corner.

 

 

According to TheWinchesterStar.com, the SUV spun out and rolled over, and Mr. Helsley was ejected from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 60 years old.

The woman driving the Toyota was not injured. Police are investigating the accident and no charges have been filed at this time. Police did state that Mr. Helsley was not wearing a seat belt.

Seat belt use is mandatory in 45 U.S. states, including Virginia. Wearing a seat belt is unquestionably the easiest way to protect you in an accident, and I strongly recommend that everyone in a vehicle at every age buckle up.

Unfortunately, some accident victims worry that the fact that they weren’t wearing a seat belt during an accident that was not their fault will mean they can’t receive compensation from the at-fault driver for their injuries. This isn’t true in Virginia.

While Virginia follows the contributory negligence rule, which means that if an accident victim contributed to his injury he cannot recover any damages for the injury, Virginia also prevents evidence about whether a seat belt was worn during an accident to be admitted at trial. This means a jury would never even know an accident victim wasn’t buckled up, so it won’t affect his or her ability to recover from the at-fault driver should the case go to trial.

Unsavory insurance adjusters may hint that not wearing a seat belt may affect a potential claim.  A victim or family member who is already emotionally vulnerable may fall for this tactic, but they shouldn’t.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an accident and you think you should be compensated for your losses, the best way to determine whether you have a claim is to talk to a Virginia personal injury lawyer. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are well-versed in Virginia law regarding compensation for accident victims, and we can discuss your unique circumstances to determine if you have a potential claim.

For more about the claim process, see our firm’s best accident guide to car accident injuries in Virginia.

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