Determining Fault After a Harrisonburg Car Accident
What does it mean to be at fault in a car accident, and how is fault determined? These are important questions that you and your lawyer will need to address if you’ve suffered injuries in an accident. Your options for pursuing compensation depend on who is responsible for causing the crash.
At Kendall Law Firm, we understand how confusing things can be after a serious accident. That’s why we’re here to answer your question during a free consultation. Attorney David Kendall has more than 30 years of experience representing clients. At Kendall Law Firm, we are dedicated to providing attentive, personalized legal service in Harrisonburg and beyond. From our community involvement to providing in-depth legal support for accident victims, we’re ready to help any way we can.
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another driver, turn to Kendall Law Firm for the legal guidance you need. With several offices across the state, including a Harrisonburg office, Kendall Law Firm is prepared to talk with you at a time and place that is convenient for you. For your free consultation after a Harrisonburg car accident, call us at (866) 590-9773 or reach out to us online today.
Why Does Fault Matter After an Accident?
The determination of fault is one of the most important aspects of a personal injury case in Virginia. Insurance companies and the courts weigh fault to decide who should pay for the losses suffered by accident victims.
For example, let’s say one person runs a red light and hits another driver. If a court determines that the person who ran the red light was completely at fault, then they would be financially responsible for the other driver’s medical bills and expenses related to the accident. But sometimes the fault isn’t so clear. In Virginia, that can lead to serious consequences.
The Commonwealth of Virginia uses the legal doctrine of contributory negligence to determine compensation after an accident. Under this system, if you are even partially at fault for an automobile accident that injured you, then you may be barred from seeking compensation from others involved. It’s a harsh standard. Therefore, it’s important to be aware that any statements you make could play a role in your case.
How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
When Harrisonburg, VA lawyers and investigators need to determine who is at fault in an accident, they will seek to analyze many different types of evidence. It can be difficult to decipher what actions led to an accident. Even seemingly straightforward collisions may have multiple contributing factors. Some of the types of evidence investigators will seek to help determine fault include:
- Visual evidence from the accident scene – These days, security cameras and traffic cameras are everywhere. That can be useful if there is an accident. Video footage of what happened can go a long way toward showing who was at fault and helping you build a persuasive case. In addition, photos of skid marks, traffic lights, vehicle damage, and the weather may help to determine fault.
- Eyewitness statements – Eyewitnesses are one of the most important assets for determining fault in a car accident. If you are suing an at-fault driver, the people who were at the scene at the time of the accident can give important detail about how the accident unfolded and who may be at fault.
- Police reports and documentation – After a serious car accident, Virginia police typically go to the scene to investigate and produce an accident report. These official reports can be valuable tools for identifying who was at fault. Insurance adjusters look at police reports as an unbiased account of the accident. Remember that road crews and cleaners may clear an accident scene, but the police report remains.
- Expert analysis – In some cases, there may not be enough evidence from videos and the police to clearly determine who was at fault. If you need to prove a car accident, specialists such as traffic reconstructionist can provide analysis that could paint a detailed picture of the events that led to the crash.
A Virginia court may be the one that ultimately determines fault in an accident if the case gets that far. Most cases are resolved through negotiation before they go to trial. If you have questions about determining fault after a Harrisonburg, VA car accident, get in touch with a lawyer today.
Is Virginia a No-fault State?
In a no-fault state, an injured car accident victim may turn to their own insurance policy for coverage no matter who was at fault for the crash. Virginia is an at-fault state. In Virginia, the person at fault for an accident is the one who is liable for compensating a victim after an accident. For example, if someone is speeding and that caused a crash that hurts you, the speeding driver and their insurance companies could be held responsible.
Can I Still Get Compensation If I Was Determined to Be At Fault?
In Virginia, it can be more challenging to get compensation if investigators or a court determine that you’re at fault for an accident. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, there may be many ways for you to seek compensation.
For example, your own insurance may include policies or provisions that could help you after an accident. Optional auto insurance coverage, such as personal injury protection (PIP), can help cover your injuries following an accident, regardless of fault, if you have PIP coverage as part of your insurance policy.
An experienced Harrisonburg, VA car accident lawyer can review your accident and help you understand the steps you may take to seek compensation. After an accident, it’s important to speak with a lawyer as soon as you can.
What to Do If I Am Not At Fault After a Car Accident?
As with other types of accidents, there are things you can do to help yourself and missteps you can make that could hurt your case after a car accident. What should you do to protect your Virginia car accident claim following an accident that someone else caused? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t admit to anything – Sometimes people think they’re at fault when they really do not understand all the contributing factors to an accident. Protect yourself by not admitting fault after an accident. Answer the questions posed by police to the best of your ability, but do not speculate. Let the police reach their own conclusions. In Virginia, admitting fault can have huge consequences for your compensation and your recovery.
- Take photos of the accident scene – Use your phone camera to document any vehicle damage, evidence such as skid marks, lighting conditions, and other details that could be important.
- Hold on to any records, pay stubs, or information that could be helpful – A big part of a car accident case is understanding the financial impacts of the accident on you. That’s where records help. They can tell a story about how the accident harmed your life, your livelihood, and your ability to earn a living.
- Stay off social media – You may be tempted to tell your friends about your accidents on social media. But anything you say could be taken out of context and used against you to assert that your injuries were less serious than you claimed. Keep any talks about your accident between your lawyer and yourself.
- Keep a journal about how you’re feeling – After an accident, you could be facing major injuries that could take weeks or months to heal. You may be taking powerful medications to help with your pain and treatment. It’s easy to lose track of details when you’re in recovery. Keep a journal about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through following an accident.
- Follow through on any medical care that you need – If you were injured, make sure that you listen to your doctor and get the treatment you deserve. Follow your doctor’s advice and keep follow-up appointments. Keep records that detail your injuries and expenses.
- Talk with a lawyer about your case – The other driver and their insurance company may want to pin the blame on you. Speak with a lawyer to protect your rights and to understand your next steps.
Contact an Experienced Harrisonburg Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a Harrisonburg car accident, contact Kendall Law Firm now. David Kendall is a Virginia native who understands Virginia’s personal injury laws. He’s also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who brings years of experience and deep knowledge of the law, Kendall Law Firm is ready to help.
Schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Kendall Law Firm may help you recover from a serious Harrisonburg vehicle accident caused by another driver. Give us a call at (866) 590-9773 or reach out to us now.