The Common Carrier Exception to the Virginia Contributory Negligence Doctrine

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:

  • A victim gets into a vehicle with an impaired driver or into a car that they know is defective;
  • Speeding or reckless driving, even if the victim’s behavior did not cause the accident;
  • Distracted driving, even if the other party was more at-fault for the accident; or
  • Running into the road as a pedestrian, even though pedestrians generally have the right of way.

Similarly, contributory negligence applies in personal injury cases that do not involve motor vehicles. For instance, a person who is distracted while walking in a grocery store might not be able to recover damages if they slip-and-fall on a spill. However, it is important to note that not all of a plaintiff’s behavior will amount to contributory negligence. For example, if a victim refuses medical attention after an accident, that does not amount to contributory negligence because it was not the direct cause of their injuries.

One important exception to this complete bar to recovery is Virginia’s common carrier exception. The common carrier exception allows those who suffer injuries on a common carrier, such as a bus or trolley, to file a lawsuit against the company or vehicle operator. The exception applies in situations where the operator violated a safety code. Under this exception, a jury shall diminish a victim’s damages by their attributable negligence.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Virginia Accident?

If you or someone you love been seriously injured in a Virginia car accident, you should contact the attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. The dedicated and skilled attorneys at our law firm have experience successfully handling various complex personal injury lawsuits. We handle Virginia accident cases stemming from motor vehicle collisions, defective products, premises liability, and wrongful death. These cases often involve an interplay of various statutory and evidentiary laws, and it is important that you contact our office to help you understand your rights and remedies. Contact our office at 703-649-4500, to schedule a free initial consultation with a Virginia accident attorney on our team.

Contact Information