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Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
(833) 997-1774

After being injured as a passenger in a Virginia car accident, you will probably need to file a claim against the insurance policy of one or more of the drivers involved in the collision. If you have medical expense benefits, you can file a claim against your policy for your medical expenses.

Normally, passengers are able to bring a claim against the liability insurance of the negligent driver or drivers at fault for the crash. In some instances, passengers can also file a claim with their own provider if they carry Loss of Income Benefits and Medical Expense coverage. In other words, you have options when it comes to seeking recovery. 

If you would like to understand more about your legal options following a car accident, reach out to the Virginia car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. We are a well-established Virginia personal injury firm with the resources and experience necessary to achieve favorable results for our clients. Call us for a free consultation.

Contributory Negligence

Virginia, along with four other states and Washington DC, abide by contributory negligence laws when establishing liability and damages in a car accident. Under these rules, a person is barred from receiving any damages for a car accident if they contributed to it in any way. The contributory negligence rule binds court decisions. It also has a considerable influence on the way insurance adjusters value your claim. 

Determining the At-Fault Driver

Determining the driver at fault for an accident is paramount in states that adhere to the contributory negligence system. All drivers are responsible for obeying driving laws and operating their vehicles with due care. This means that determining fault comes down to proving driver negligence. Some examples of actions or behaviors that could be deemed negligent include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Making unsafe or unlawful lane changes
  • Failing to obey traffic lights and signs
  • Driving too fast for current weather conditions
  • Following too closely
  • Distracted driving
  • Failing to yield 
  • Fatigued driving

The driver has a duty of care to obey traffic laws, avoid distractions, and maintain control of their vehicle. After an accident, passengers will usually bring a claim against the insurance company of one or both drivers involved.

Can a Passenger Share Liability for a Virginia Car Accident?

Passengers are not typically liable for an accident, even if they briefly distracted the driver. In most instances, the fault lies with one of the drivers. They are responsible for their actions while they are behind the wheel. It is up to them to ignore distractions and pay attention to the road.

There are, of course, always exceptions. If a passenger tries to grab the steering wheel, for instance, then they could be held responsible for an accident although this would be extremely unusual.  

Injured Passengers Seeking Legal Representation After an Accident  

It may seem like passenger injury claims are more direct than other kinds of car accident claims but this is not always the case. Complicated relationship dynamics and complex liability laws can make filing a claim or lawsuit extremely challenging. Having a respected car accident lawyer file a personal injury claim and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf will make the process more straightforward and comfortable. It will also serve to maximize your odds of recovering full and fair financial compensation for your injuries.

Speaking with an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer is the best way to discover all of your legal options. The Virginia personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp will manage the investigation, handle all of the paperwork, ensure deadlines are met, and skillfully negotiate your settlement while you focus on getting better. If you were injured as a passenger in a Virginia car accident, call us at (833) 997-1774 to schedule a free review of your potential case.  

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