The questions on this page were answered by our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk personal injury attorneys. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Recover Compensation?
When many people think of injured car accident victims, they often picture the driver of a vehicle as the injured victim who then files a car accident lawsuit against the driver in the other vehicle. However, many injured car crash victims are passengers in vehicles. A passenger can suffer catastrophic injuries and in certain types of accidents can suffer more severe injuries than the driver.
A passenger in a vehicle who is injured in a crash may be able to recover financial compensation from the driver who caused the accident, no matter who the at-fault driver was. The following is a brief overview of what steps an injured passenger can take. For more detailed information, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to speak with one of our seasoned car accident attorneys.
Determining Fault in a Crash when the Passenger Is the Victim
There are a few possibilities of who the at-fault driver is when a passenger is injured in a crash. It may be the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident or it could be the driver of the vehicle that the passenger was riding in. Sometimes, there is more than one party who is at fault and both drivers may hold some percentage of liability.
Many times, an injured passenger hesitates to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver of the vehicle they were in because the driver is a loved one or friend. For any victim in this situation, it is critical to remember that a car accident claim is not an aggressive act against the at-fault driver. The claim the victim files is actually against the driver’s insurance company and not against the driver. No matter what the relationship with the at-fault driver, a victim deserves financial compensation for the losses their injuries cause them to suffer and Virginia law allows them to obtain that compensation.
Pursuing for Damages for Car Accident Injuries
In order to be successful in obtaining damages for car accident injuries, a victim and their car accident attorney will need to prove two main elements of their case, liability and damages. There are many acts and behaviors of a driver that can cause a crash which they can be held liable for. Some of the more common of these include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Using a cell phone while driving (talking, texting, social media, etc.)
- Driving recklessly
- Fatigued driving
- Ignoring traffic signals/signs
One a the at-fault’s driver’s liability has been proven, the next step is to determine what the victim’s damages are. There are three types of damages a victim can suffer, economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Compensation for economic damages covers past and future medical bills for the treatment of injuries sustained in the accident, wages lost while the victim was recovering from the crash, loss of future earnings due to a disability that leaves the victim unable to return to their old job, and property damage.
Compensation for non-economic damages covers physical and emotional pain and suffering. The amount of these damages is based on the severity of the discomfort and anguish the victim experiences.
Economic and noneconomic damages are referred to as compensatory damages because they are meant to “compensate” the victim for the losses their injuries have caused them. Economic damages have a tangible dollar amount that determines their total. Noneconomic damages do not have a tangible dollar amount and are either agreed upon by during settlement negotiations or are determined by the jury if the case goes to litigation.
Punitive damages are not compensatory but are instead what their name implies – they are meant to “punish” the at-fault party because their behavior or actions that caused the accident was so egregious. One of the most common types of car accident cases where punitive damages are awarded to the victim is in drunk driving crashes.
Speak to a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
All car accidents have the potential to permanently change the trajectory of a person’s life. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, and need compensation to find some amount of recovery, talk to a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro & Appleton to find out all your legal options.
Car accident injuries should not be ignored, and you deserve compensation for your suffering. Our firm has more than three decades of experience successfully advocating for injured victims and their families and will work diligently to get you the financial compensation you deserve.
Who is liable for a tire blowout crash?
If the driver of the vehicle had properly maintained their tires, then a Virginia car accident attorney will evaluate their case to determine who has liability for the crash. Some of the possible at-fault parties may include:
- Manufacturer if there was a design or manufacturing defect
- Municipality if road conditions caused the crash
- Other driver if the crash was caused by their tire blowing out because they failed to maintain their vehicle.
What causes tire blowouts?
Tire blowouts occur when there is not enough air pressure in the tire, causing the tire to stretch further than what it is meant to until the tire becomes separated from the internal fabric and steel cord reinforcement. Reasons why this drop in pressure may occur include:
- Defective tires
- Not inflated properly
- Slow leak
- Worn treads
How common are tire blowout accidents?
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are more than 78,000 tire blowout accidents each year. These crashes are responsible for more than 400 death every year.
Ice and snow caused the car crash that injured me. Can I sue VDOT?
No, for at least two reasons.
Virginia, like every other state, requires drivers to adjust their driving to account for road conditions. This translates into a duty to slow down or stay off the road altogether when ice and snow makes pavement slick.
Additionally, Virginia enforces a contributory negligence rule that prevents injury victims who do something to cause their injuries from collecting on insurance claims filed against other people. The contributory negligence rule can also complicate injury claims following crashes during winter weather even if another driver was clearly more at fault.
What happens if the driver who caused my car crash injuries does not have enough insurance coverage?
Virginia requires drivers to carry car insurance that provides a minimum of $25,000 of liability coverage. The state also allows drivers to get around that requirement by paying an annual fee instead of obtaining car insurance.
If a driver carries minimum liability coverage, chooses to pay the noninsured driver fee, or just operates without any type of coverage at all, injured victims of a car crash can find themselves paying their own medical bills.
One more state law helps prevent that. Virginia requires each car insurance policy issued in the state to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provisions. Car crash victims can invoke those provisions when they become victims of a driver with minimum or no liability insurance.
Who has liability following a chain-reaction car crash in Virginia?
Answering the question about which drivers owe legal duties to compensate other people for injuries suffered in a chain reaction crash is very difficult. Only a close examination of the incident will make it possible to determine where to file insurance claims.
The first driver who triggered the pile up will probably not be liable for all the injuries. In Virginia, the legal principle of contributory negligence will also factor into decisions about settling claims. Under that rule, people who are even minorly responsible for causing their own injuries lose their right to collect monetary damages from someone who is even more at fault.
The best way to know who has liability following a chain-reaction car crash is to partner with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney who can do the investigation and analyses needed to determine which driver’s insurance company to contact.
What are tailgating accidents?
Tailgating accidents occur when one car is traveling too close to the vehicle that is in front of them. When a driver fails to keep a safe distance, the result is often a rear-end crash. The faster the vehicle in the rear is going, the harder the impact and the more serious the injuries.
While the majority of tailgating accidents are caused by negligence on the part of the driver in the rear vehicle, there are situations where the driver in front acted negligently or recklessly, causing the crash. Weather conditions can also cause a tailgating crash.
Are tailgating accidents preventable?
Studies show that tailgating accidents are one of the most preventable accidents that occur. Some steps drivers can take are:
- Always keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front, using the three-second rule
- Slow down your speed in bad weather
- If a driver is going too slow, pass them instead of driving too close to them
- Make sure to give yourself enough time to get to your destination. That way you won’t feel impatient and rushed
- If there is a vehicle that is tailgating you, find a way to let them pass you
What are the most common injuries that occur in tailgating accidents?
There are more than 900,000 people injured each year in tailgating accidents. About 2,000 victims are killed every year. Some of the more frequent types of serious and catastrophic injuries include:
- Brain injuries
- Burn injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Leg injuries
- Lower back injury
- Shoulder, arm, wrist injury
- Spinal injuries