Avoiding contributory negligence in car accident suits

If only the person who hit me had hung around, I could have sued him. Because I didn’t do any of these things:

There are a few things that most people know about car accidents and how things are handled in the aftermath of the collision:

  1. Insurance companies get involved
  2. One or more drivers are deemed to be “at fault” for the accident
  3. The insurance company of the at-fault driver(s) ends up paying damages

Beyond that, not many people are completely aware of how the process works, how “fault” is assessed, and what that means from a legal perspective. So, here’s a few things that you might want to know, especially if you’re a Virginia resident. There are two doctrines that may be used when determining fault in a car accident case—contributory negligence and comparative negligence.

Most states in the U.S. follow comparative negligence, which basically takes into account the extent to which each party involved in an accident may be at fault. So, under comparative negligence, one person may be deemed 70% at fault for an accident, whereas the other person might be deemed 30% at fault. This means that each party is responsible for a corresponding percentage of the damages assessed.

Virginia, on the other hand, follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, under which the victim of a car accident can only claim damages if he or she was 0% at fault for that accident. This means that if it can be demonstrated that a victim was even 1% at fault for the accident, no damages may be available.

According to car accident attorney John Yannone, “Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia are three of five jurisdictions in the United States that adhere to the contributory negligence doctrine. People who live in these places need to be extra vigilant in order to ensure that they are able to pursue damages in a car accident case or any other personal injury situation.”

Below, we provide a few tips that can help Virginia drivers to avoid contributory negligence in the event of a car accident.

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • When you plan on turning, make sure that you use your turn signal.
  • Always come to a full stop at a Stop sign.
  • Drive your car using good road etiquette.
  • Do not try to pass another vehicle when you are approaching a curve or a hill.
  • Make sure that all safety features of your vehicle are working properly.
  • Check your brakes, tires, and any other parts involved in steering and braking.
  • Always obey the posted speed limit.
  • Do not ride in a car with a driver that you know is reckless, tired, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

By following these simply suggestions, you may be able to minimize the potential for contributory negligence in the event that you are ever involved in a car accident caused by another driver.