What Happened

Our Virginia personal injury client suffered injuries when another driver ran a red light at a major intersection in Norfolk, VA, and T-boned her vehicle. The other driver insisted that she had a green light, giving her insurance company an argument for refusing to offer a fair and just settlement for our client’s personal injury claims.


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Key Legal Strategy

Virginia is one of just four states where court’s adherence to the outdated legal theory of contributory negligence makes succeeding with a personal injury claim impossible. If the insurance company could convince a judge or jury that our client had acted negligently or recklessly in any way that contributed to causing the crash, it could avoid compensating her for crash-related medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.

We knew, however, that the woman we represented had stopped for a red light and only entered the intersection after her signal turned green. When the insurance company learned that we had filed a civil lawsuit, it grudgingly offered a very low settlement.

The case was eventually heard by a judge, who ruled in our client’s favor and assigned all the fault for the accident to the other driver. One argument that convinced the judge boiled down to this: Why would our client stop and wait at the intersection if she was not obeying traffic signals?

The judge ended the trial by ordering the insurance company to pay our client three times as much money as it had offered in settlement before the court hearing. That outcome could have been achieved without any of the delay and drama if the at-fault driver and insurer had simply acknowledged responsibility and accepted liability in this clear-cut case.

All parties agreed to keep the dollar amount awarded to our Virginia personal injury client confidential, but we can disclose that it did not exceed $100,000. The money only matter to us to the extent that our client received enough to recover from her injuries without carrying medical debt and incurring financial hardships from missing work and not getting paid.

Court & Date: Norfolk General District Court, Norfolk, VA, 2008

Staff: Staff attorney