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How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in Virginia?

Your personal injury lawyer will investigate the crash to determine who is at fault. They will file a claim with the driver’s insurance company on your behalf. The insurer will also investigate and determine who was at fault for the accident. Sometimes, substantial evidence shows one person is liable for someone else’s injuries. In that case, proving fault is straightforward.

However, collisions involving multiple drivers and vehicles require thorough investigations. Establishing liability in a car accident is complicated when more than one person might be at fault.

Typically, insurance adjusters obtain evidence, talk to each party involved, and review various factors to decide whether their insured or another party caused the crash.

Common Evidence to Prove Fault

Insurance carriers often investigate and review the evidence they gather to establish liability for a car accident. Below is the most common evidence used to determine fault.

Accident Report

An officer will arrive at the scene to investigate if someone reports the accident. The officer should complete a report with information such as:

  • Traffic citations issued to the drivers, if any
  • Type of injuries each party sustained
  • Brief description of events leading up to the crash
  • Type and location of vehicle damage
  • Names and phone numbers of witnesses
  • Diagram showing each car’s travel direction, impact point, and where they ended up after the collision
  • Officer’s determination of fault

An investigating officer’s interpretation of who is at fault for an accident isn’t always factual. They give their opinion based on the information each party and witnesses provide. The insurance company might disagree and blame someone else for the crash.

Eyewitness Statements

Drivers often blame each other after a car crash. Someone might know they are at fault but point the finger at someone else to avoid liability.

Eyewitness statements are valuable in car accident cases. Talking to people who saw what happened can prove or disprove each driver’s story. The insurer might consider the statements and other evidence to accept or deny the claim.

Pictures from the Accident Scene

Accident scene photos offer visual evidence. Photos can show debris from the collision, each car’s final resting place, vehicle damage, and other details to help reconstruct what happened.

Footage from a nearby security camera or traffic camera might also prove fault. Denying liability is challenging if footage shows a driver running a red light or texting at the wheel.

How Contributory Negligence Affects Compensation

Negligence is a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring someone. You must prove a driver’s negligence to establish that they were liable in a car accident case. However, more than one driver might be responsible for a collision.

Commonwealth of Virginia law recognizes the pure contributory negligence rule. That means a plaintiff can’t receive a financial award for their injury if they share any percentage of fault. Even if the other party is 99 percent liable and you’re only one percent responsible for the accident, recovering compensation in a civil lawsuit isn’t possible.

Speak to a Dedicated Car Accident Attorney Today

Davies, Barrell, Will, Lewellyn & Edwards, PLC has protected our clients’ rights for over 45 years. We understand the challenges and burdens of getting hurt in a car wreck. Dealing with unfamiliar insurance laws, policies and adjusters can be overwhelming when you or a family member has been injured in an accident. You can count on us to handle your case so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident due to someone else’s negligence, call us right now for a free consultation at (540) 825-6000 or toll free at (800) 800-8176. We will fight for you to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.

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