Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Most personal injury lawsuits stem from the negligence of a private citizen or company. However, in some instances, government entities and employees engage in reckless or negligent behavior that causes harm to the public. The Virginia Tort Claims Act, the state constitution and Virginia Supreme Court decisions outline the circumstances under which a private citizen may file a civil claim against a government entity or employee. Cases involving a governmental entity are complex and require an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of Virginia procedural and statutory rules.

Generally, Virginia law provides counties and their employees with immunity from negligence claims; however, immunity does not extend to contractual or civil rights claims. Moreover, the law protects Virginia cities and towns and their employees from immunity for lawsuits stemming from negligence arising from “governmental activities.” The immunity does not cover “proprietary activities,” contractual claims, and civil rights actions. The law generally classifies “governmental activities” as those conducted for the common good of citizens. In contrast, proprietary activities are those that private entities have traditionally done for a pecuniary benefit. For example, governmental activities typically include police work, firefighting, social services, garbage removal, hospitals, jails, engineering of water and sewer systems. On the other hand, proprietary activities are those such as street and sidewalk maintenance, markets, utility company work, airports, and public housing services.

While the rule seemingly provides governmental entities with broad protection, many exceptions exist. Injury victims may still have a claim if the entity engaged in certain conduct such as intentional acts, gross negligence, willful and wanton negligence, unauthorized actions outside the scope of employment, non-discretionary or ministerial actions, and some contractual claims. The distinction between activities can be challenging to parse out. For instance, news reports described a collision between a Virginia State trooper and another vehicle. Officials noted that injuries occurred, but they did not specify who the victims were. However, four people received medical treatment, and two were airlifted to a children’s hospital.

Those who suffer injuries in a Virginia motorcycle accident may file a lawsuit to recover damages for their losses. Although motorcycle accidents are similar to other vehicle accidents, the inherent nature of motorcycles and motorcycle riding tend to present injury victims with additional challenges. Injury victims, including car drivers, passengers, and motorcycle riders and their passengers, should understand how Virginia personal injury laws may impact their claim to recover.

Operating a truck, car, motorcycle, or bike on the road requires the operator to accept a certain degree of risk. However, motorcyclists present riders and those around them with unique risks that may increase the likelihood and severity of an accident. The structural characteristics, such as its weight, design, and lack of safety features, make these vehicles more prone to serious accidents. Further, unlike typical cars, these vehicles are much more likely to experience the impact of common road hazards such as debris and uneven surfaces. Moreover, although both car and motorcycle drivers need to obtain an appropriate license, safe motorcycle driving requires the operator to possess more specialized skills.

Motorcyclists tend to receive unwarranted biases from courts and insurance companies. However, in some instances, certain powerful motorcycles and sport bikes encourage riders to engage in riskier activity, such as speeding, swerving, and quick accelerating. These behaviors can have catastrophic consequences. For instance, news sources recently reported on a serious Virginia motorcycle accident near Virginia Beach. According to reports, eight bikers traveling as part of a larger consort were weaving in and out of traffic. One of the motorcyclists slammed into another motorcycle and then into a sedan. At the same time, another biker lost control of his motorcycle, and two other bikers slammed into each other, causing one of them to lose control and slam into a steel cable. Several of those involved in the collisions were transported to hospitals.

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Police chases and pursuits often result in a significant amount of collateral damage to innocent bystanders. Although these pursuits may be necessary, the price that the public pays may not always outweigh the chase’s objective. Vehicular pursuits can result in unintended consequences and serious Virginia car accident injuries. There are many policies and procedures governing the situations when a police chase is appropriate. However, these high-pressure situations lend themselves to creating dangerous situations for everyone in the vicinity.

For example, a recent news report described a harrowing crash that arose after a Virginia police pursuit. According to reports, Virginia State Police (VSP) initiated a traffic stop of a Dodge; however, the Dodge failed to pull over. The officer continued pursuing the vehicle until stopping because of heavy traffic. Although additional officers awaited further down the highway, the original officer reinstated a pursuit after the road became less congested. However, the Dodge slammed into the express lane gates and began speeding in the southbound lane, ultimately slamming into a Ford. The Dodge driver and passenger died at the scene of the accident, as did the Ford driver. Several other vehicles and motorists suffered injuries as well.

After a Virginia accident involving police or government agencies, injury victims often face challenges in recovering their damages. These cases involve a complex analysis of various tort law issues, including sovereign immunity, third-party negligence, and liability. Cases involving Virginia police pursuits require a plaintiff to establish the standard of care that the officer owed the victim, whether the officer acted in good faith when engaging in the high-speed pursuit, and whether the police agency was negligent in their training and supervision.

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In some cases, victims of a weather-related Virginia car accident may believe that the accident was inevitable because of reasons beyond anyone’s control. However, this is rarely the case. In most situations, there was some negligent conduct that caused or contributed to the accident. These cases present many challenges because the victim and driver who caused the accident may not know who or what was responsible for the collision.

Drivers must always act responsibly and ensure that they operate their vehicles safely. During inclement weather, motorists should take additional precautions to ensure their safety and that of their passengers, other drivers, and bystanders. The failure to engage in safe driving can result in devastating accidents and serious injuries.

For example, a recent news report described a harrowing accident involving eight tractor-trailers and three passenger vehicles. Virginia law enforcement explained that the accident occurred on the northbound side of Interstate 81. The collision caused a pile-up and diesel fuel spillage. An initial investigation attributes the accident to icy road conditions. Following the accident, highway workers removed the debris and treated the highway.

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Virginia accident victims that suffer injuries due to another party’s negligence may be able to recover financial compensation from the person or people responsible for their injuries. These personal injury cases typically hinge on whether the plaintiff can establish that the other party was responsible for the accident, and to what degree each party’s fault contributed to the victim’s injuries.

Many personal injury cases stem from Virginia car accidents. The cases often involve speeding, driver impairment, and driver error. These deliberate actions may result in unintended consequences and result in a personal injury lawsuit. Unlike other states, Virginia plaintiffs have a higher burden to bear, because the state follows a contributory negligence model. Accident victims should understand this doctrine, which is one of the strictest in the country.

Virginia’s contributory negligence statute bars a victim’s recovery if they are at all responsible for their damages. The harsh rule bars recovery even if the victim is one percent at fault for the accident. Some common examples of contributory negligence may involve situations such as when:

Virginia personal injury cases often involve the use of expert witnesses to lend further credibility to how an accident took place or the extent of a party’s injuries. Sometimes, however, these expert witnesses could be biased or appear to have an interest in the case that could significantly alter the presentation of accurate facts during trial.

In a recent Supreme Court of Virginia opinion, the court had to consider whether evidence of an expert witness’s financial relationship with an insurance company was admissible. Following a car accident where the plaintiff was hit from behind by the defendant’s vehicle, the plaintiff experienced significant physical pain in addition to increased anxiety and depression. After the collision, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant for $150,000 in damages.

The defendant’s auto insurance company retained an attorney to represent her in the case, who hired an orthopedic surgeon to serve as an expert witness. This expert witness previously worked with the attorney on numerous occasions and had been paid by the defendant’s insurance company for his services even though they did not directly hire him. During the trial, the plaintiff moved to introduce evidence of the expert witness’s previous relationship with the defendant’s attorney and auto insurance company. The lower court denied the plaintiff’s request, arguing that there was no direct relationship between the expert and the insurance company, so she could only introduce evidence of the expert’s previous work testifying on behalf of the attorney’s clients.

Passing another car, truck, motorcycle, or bicyclist is a common and often necessary practice, and although traffic rules allow for legal passing in some situations, improper passing can lead to serious accidents with potentially fatal consequences. Those that have suffered injuries in a Virginia car accident because of a negligent driver may be able to recover damages for their losses.

Virginia drivers who wish to pass another vehicle must ensure that they are doing so safely and within traffic rules’ confines. Under Virginia Rule § 46.2-838, drivers overtaking another vehicle while proceeding in the same direction must pass at least two feet to the left of the driver they are passing. Further, drivers should not move to the right side until it is safe to do so. Drivers who want to pass a stationary vehicle displaying safety signals, must proceed with caution and maintain a safe speed for the traffic and highway conditions. Additionally, there are special rules for drivers who want to pass trash or recycling trucks. In these cases, drivers traveling on a four-lane highway, must yield the right-of-way by changing lanes into a lane not adjacent to the truck. Moreover, if it is unsafe to pass on a roadway with less than four lanes, drivers must decrease their speed to under 10 miles per hour of the posted speed limit, and pass at least two feet left of the refuse truck.

Individuals who fail to abide by the relevant passing rules may face criminal and civil charges, depending on the accident’s unique circumstances. Civil plaintiffs who want to recover against the at-fault driver must establish that the driver was negligent. In some cases, a plaintiff may present evidence of a traffic citation for improper passing to establish negligence. However, citations do not automatically impute liability on the other driver, and plaintiffs must compile and present enough evidence to meet their burden.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) reports that the country experiences nearly six million accidents every year. Harrowing statistics reveal that almost 5,000 of these accidents are related to inclement weather. Icy, slick, and slippery roads cause a significant number of serious Virginia car accidents. These conditions can cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles, veer into other lanes and barriers, resulting in disastrous and potentially deadly consequences.

The majority of Virginia weather-related accidents result from heavy rainfall, fog, snow, or ice storms. As one would expect, these dangerous conditions tend to coincide with the winter months. Heavy rain, flooding, and strong winds can cause drivers to lose control, and their vehicle may be swept off the roadway. Motorists must avoid hydroplaning on flooded roads at all costs. Additionally, Driving through water may cause a vehicle to experience mechanical issues that can even cause an explosion. Although tall and large vehicles provide many protections to a driver, the inherent instability of a large vehicle compounded with strong winds may cause the drivers of large vehicles to overturn.

Similarly, icy conditions reduce the amount of friction between tires and the road. Under these conditions, drivers may need additional room and time to stop their vehicles safely. Drivers must adjust their driving to meet the road conditions; otherwise, they pose a serious risk to themselves and other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians.

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Driving is the most popular (and dangerous) form of transportation throughout the United States. While safety commissions and government entities exert significant time and energy into traffic safety education and accident prevention, accidents continue to occur at an alarming rate. Some Virginia car accidents may result in minor injuries and damages; however, many suffer serious injuries or death. Virginians who have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident should understand their rights and remedies.

Virginia law defines wrongful death as a death that results because of another’s wrongful act or neglect. The law provides that a plaintiff may proceed with a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party, if the circumstances of the victim’s death would have warranted a personal injury claim, if the victim did not die. Essentially, a wrongful death claim is akin to a personal injury lawsuit except that the victim is no longer alive. These types of lawsuits often arise after a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, medical malpractice, or a similar situation where another’s negligence caused the victim’s death.

For example, recently, a Virginia news report described a harrowing car accident that occurred on Thanksgiving. Reports indicate that a pickup truck driver was heading west when he sped through a red light. He subsequently slammed into several vehicles, including an SUV, resulting in the death of two people. Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data provides that the intersection has been the scene of 18 collisions; however, this was the first accident resulting in a fatality.

There are many physical, psychological, and environmental advantages from walking, jogging, running, and biking. However, there are also inherent risks associated with these activities. Despite the many benefits of these forms of travel, Virginia pedestrian safety is a serious concern. Pedestrian accidents often result in more serious damages because they do not have any protection from injuries if a vehicle strikes them. Although, lawmakers encourage pedestrian safety initiatives, the rate of Virginia pedestrian accidents resulting in fatalities continues to rise. This increase may be related to the prevalence of smartphones and larger passenger vehicles. Virginia pedestrian accidents often result in traumatic injuries with lasting consequences.

In Virginia, the leading cause of pedestrian accidents stems from a driver’s negligence. The most common forms of negligence or recklessness involve aggressive driving, failure to observe surroundings, distracted driving, driving while impaired, fatigued driving, failure to yield, running a traffic light, and speeding. Additionally, many of these accidents occur during low visibility times, such as the early morning or evening hours.

Furthermore, many Virginia pedestrian accidents are hit-and-runs, where the driver either does not realize they hit a pedestrian or purposely leaves the scene of an accident. Under the law, drivers must stop and provide “reasonable” assistance to an injury victim. Additionally, they must provide their contact information to the victim or law enforcement. The failure to follow these requirements may result in serious criminal penalties and increased personal injury damages.

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