How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in Virginia

When insurance companies are looking to determine fault,” they are looking for the party or parties who caused the car accident.

Many factors play a role in determining who is at fault for a car accident. However, some of the most important factors are:

  • Police reports – These reports are done by the responding officer to the car accident. It includes keynotes that could be used for your cases, such as crash-related details, statements from drivers and witnesses, and a drawing of the accident.
  • Witnesses – Witnesses are very important as they could be the deciding factors in deciding the outcome of a case. Witnesses help us prove what happened and can work towards evidence proving which party is at fault.
  • Video Footage – In many car accident cases, video footage from the accident – from either traffic or surveillance cameras – have been captured. Your attorney can obtain this footage and use it in your case to help determine who was at fault.
  • Involved drivers – Statements from drivers involved in the accidents can sometimes be helpful if one party admits fault. This is why it is critical to never admit any kind of fault for a crash.
  • Insurance companies – These companies will review evidence, and adjusters of the insurance companies will either accept liability or deny it.

Virginia is a Contributory Negligence State

Virginia is one out of four states that still follow contributory negligence. In a contributory negligence state, if the plaintiff (the victim) contributed to the accident, they may be barred from recovering damages. Even if the plaintiff only holds 1% of the fault, the plaintiff may be prevented from seeking damages. This is very important to remember as you want to engage an attorney early on in the process to properly investigate and evaluate the facts and circumstances of the accident.

What Happens if the Fault Cant be Determined?

If an insurance company refuses to agree its client was the at-fault driver or if the amount of damages paid cannot be agreed upon between you and your attorney and insurance company, then the case is brought to trial, arbitration, or mediation.

If you want to avoid going to trial, attorneys often settle through arbitration or mediation. An arbitrator is an independent person or body official appointed to settle a dispute. In this case, the dispute determines the responsible party and the amount of compensation to be received for damages. Similar to a trial, both parties present their side, and an arbitrator makes the decision. However, the main difference during mediation is that the mediators do not render the final decision.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Attorney

If you have been injured in a crash, it is very important to discuss the incident with a personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve for the losses your injuries have caused. It is critical to remember that the insurance company is looking to pay out as little as possible or to deny your claim completely.

Each Virginia car accident attorney at Shapiro, Washburn, & Sharp has extensive experience in settlement negotiations, however, our firm will not hesitate to bring your case to court and let a jury decide if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation and find out how we can help.