Virginia car crashes are often devastating, leaving injury victims with serious and debilitating injuries. Much too often, those involved in motor vehicle collisions require extensive medical treatment and surgery, and their injuries prevent them from going back to work. Indeed, many traffic crashes result in temporary and permanent disabilities. When another driver or another party is at fault for the accident, it is essential for the injury victim to preserve his or her right to financial compensation. If you do not hire a Virginia car accident lawyer to help with your case immediately, you run the risk of making a mistake that can limit your ability to receive compensation. In some cases, a mistake can even bar your recovery entirely. The following are three important things to know about maintaining your eligibility for compensation in a Virginia car crash.
You Should Never Admit Fault After a Collision
One of the surest ways to lose your eligibility to receive financial compensation after a car accident is to admit fault for the crash—to a law enforcement official at the scene of the collision, to another driver or vehicle occupant involved in the crash, or to an insurance agent. To make sure that you maintain your eligibility for financial compensation through an auto insurance claim or a car accident lawsuit, never admit fault.
Even if you think you may bear some responsibility for the crash, it is extremely important to keep this information to yourself until you have spoken with an experienced Virginia car crash lawyer.
Virginia’s Contributory Negligence Law Can Bar Your Recovery If You Are Partially At Fault
The next thing to know about maintaining your eligibility for compensation after a car crash is that, if you do admit fault or if the other party believes you are partially to blame, you could be barred from recovery entirely under Virginia’s contributory negligence law. Contributory negligence, which is sometimes discussed as comparative fault, is a legal term that refers to a situation in which the party bringing a claim also bears some liability for his or her injuries. Each state has its own laws pertaining to this matter, but contributory negligence or comparative fault is almost always a defense that the at-fault party raises in order to avoid liability.
In some states, a plaintiff’s partial fault will not bar his or her ability to recover damages, but instead will only reduce that plaintiff’s damages by the percentage of his or her fault. It is extremely important to know that Virginia is not one of these states. Rather, Virginia is one of only a handful of states where any contributory negligence at all will bar the plaintiff’s recovery entirely. Indeed, Virginia is what is known as a “pure” contributory negligence state. Accordingly, even if a plaintiff is 1 percent at fault, the plaintiff is barred from any recovery.
When contributory negligence comes up, the plaintiff will need an experienced attorney to show that she bears no responsibility for the accident if she wants to maintain her eligibility for compensation.
Your Claim Can Become Time-Barred If You Wait Too Long to File a Claim
Finally, to maintain your eligibility for compensation, you will need to make sure your claim is filed within the period set by the statute of limitations (Code of Va. § 8.01-243). Under Virginia law, most car accident lawsuits have a two-year statute of limitations. As such, a lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the accident.
The clock on the statute of limitations begins to tick on the date of the car accident. It is usually difficult if not impossible to temporarily pause, or “toll,” the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the clock will tick for two years from the date of the crash. If you do not file a lawsuit within that period, then you have what the law considers to be a time-barred claim. Once a Virginia car accident claim has been time-barred, you cannot file a lawsuit to seek compensation. To maintain your eligibility for compensation, it is essential to file your lawsuit within that two-year period.
Contact a Virginia Auto Accident Lawyer Today
Filing a car accident claim is complicated, especially if some time has already passed since the collision. You should not wait any longer to get in touch with an aggressive Virginia car accident attorney. The advocates at Barney Injury Law are committed to representing injury victims in motor vehicle collision claims, and we can begin working on your case immediately. Contact Barney Injury Law today to learn about your options for seeking compensation.