Car Accident Lawyer in Manassas VA
While automobiles are important tools that provide us with freedom of movement, the ability to transport goods and products, and a way to get from one place to the other, there is no denying that these huge pieces of machinery are incredibly dangerous, too. Especially when occurring at high speeds, auto accidents can leave victims with devastating, and sometimes fatal, injuries that change the course of their lives.
When a car crash leaves a driver or passenger with serious injuries, medical expenses, property damage, and psychological harm, it is important that they understand the process for recovering compensation and filing a car accident claim. At the law offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., our talented auto accident attorneys are well versed in car accident and insurance laws, and can provide competent legal counsel for anyone injured in a car accident.
Types of Auto Accident Cases We Handle
We handle accident cases caused by or involving all types of automobiles, including trucks, SUVs, passenger cars, and commercial vehicles. We have helped clients involved in the following accident types recover the compensation they very much need:
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Side-swipe crashes
- T-bone accidents
- Left turn/right turn crashes
- Intersection collisions
- High speed accidents
We also have experience working with victims of accidents caused by distracted drivers and intoxicated drivers. If your case is particularly complex, involves more than one at-fault party, or if your accident has left you with permanent and disabling injuries, we are the legal team for you.
What is Considered Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Even the most law-abiding citizens can make a simple mistake and receive a traffic ticket for a minor moving violation. In Virginia, some traffic offenses are considered so serious that they result in criminal charges that can lead to fines, jail time, and a license suspension. These are often labeled as “reckless driving” offenses and might include:
- Excessive speed
- Aggressive driving
- Drag racing
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
- Vehicle not under control
Excessive speed in Virginia as it relates to reckless driving has several definitions per Virginia Code §46.2-862. The first is driving 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. The second is driving more than 80 miles per hour regardless of the speed limit.
According to Virginia Code §46.2-852, a person can be charged with reckless driving if they drive their vehicle in any way that endangers another person’s life, limb, or property. Virginia Code §46.2-853 also considers it reckless driving when someone operates a vehicle that isn’t safe, such as one with bald tires or faulty brakes.
Common Reasons for Rollover Accidents
Rollovers are very often due to the convergence of multiple factors that occur in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Some of the most common factors that contribute to rollover crashes include:
- Vehicle Type: The type and design of the vehicle can play a major role in causing a rollover accident. Taller and narrower vehicles have a higher center of gravity, which makes them more likely to be involved in a rollover, especially if they experience heavy winds, rain, ice, another adverse road conditions. As mentioned earlier, SUVs and certain types of pickup trucks and vans are more susceptible to rollovers than most other types of vehicles.
- Location: Certain locations can increase the likelihood of a rollover. For example, most rural roads do not have medians, guardrails, and other types of barriers that help prevent a vehicle from crossing the center or going off the side and into the ditch.
- Speed: Approximately 4 out of 10 fatal rollover crashes are due to excessive speeding. Going much faster than the posted speed limit or faster than it is safe to travel based on road conditions makes rollovers more likely when a driver is going up and down hills, around sharp curves, and when there are heavy winds and other inclement weather.
- Weight: A vehicle with an excessive amount of weight is also more likely to be involved in a rollover. This is because the weight added to the vehicle raises its center of gravity away from the ground. This is commonly a major contributor to rollover accidents that happen to large tractor-trailers. In a rush to stay on schedule, big rig trucks are often loaded beyond acceptable weight limits or unevenly loaded, which can cause the vehicle to turn over or get flipped on its side.
- Driver Negligence: The NHTSA found that driver negligence is a contributing factor in the majority of rollover accident cases. Alcohol is involved in more than half of all fatal rollovers, and a large percentage are also attributable to poor driving habits such as excessive speeding, aggressive or reckless driving, inattentiveness, and distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Laws in Virginia
Texting while driving and certain other forms of distracted driving are illegal in Virginia. Specifically, Virginia code § 46.2-1078.1. prohibits the following activities:
- Reading, sending, or receiving text messages, emails, and other electronic messages.
- The use of handheld cell phones in work zones.
- School bus drivers and commercial drivers from texting and holding cell phones.
- Any type of cell phone use by drivers under the age of 18, even in hands-free mode.
Most of Virginia’s distracted driving laws are given primary enforcement, which means that you can be pulled over and cited for violations even if you were not observed breaking any other laws. For adult offenders, penalties start at a fine of $125 for the first offense and a $250 fine for a second or subsequent offense. Commercial drivers face even stiffer penalties with fines of up to $2750. These penalties are in addition to higher insurance rates and demerit points on your driving record that could eventually result in the loss of driving privileges.
The penalties for violating Virginia’s distracted driving laws are harsher than in many other states, but they do not do enough to effectively deter this activity, and they do nothing to compensate a victim for their losses. In order to recover compensation for your losses, you will need to file a civil claim for damages, most likely against the other driver’s insurance company.
How to Determine Fault in an Auto Accident
Because Virginia is an at-fault car insurance state, drivers are responsible for paying for the accidents that they cause, typically through their bodily injury and property damage liability insurance, both of which are required in the state. In order for a claim to be paid and an injured, not-at-fault party to recover the compensation they deserve, however, fault or liability must first be established.
Establishing liability in a crash can be difficult to do, especially when each driver involved insists that the other was to blame. For this reason, hiring an attorney with auto accident investigation experience is in your best interest. Our attorneys know how to collect evidence and determine fault, including analyzing all sources of evidence such as:
- Witnesses’ testimonies
- Police reports
- Physical evidence at the scene
- Skid marks, debris, etc.
- Angles of impact on vehicles
- Video or camera footage
We can also request electronic control module data for vehicles, and hire accident reconstruction experts who can get to the bottom of what happened. We have the resources and relationships necessary to perform a thorough investigation into your accident.
What If I’m in a Crash with an Uninsured Driver?
Because an at-fault driver’s liability insurance is responsible for paying for your damages when you are involved in a crash, a crash with an uninsured driver can make recovering compensation for your losses very difficult. The necessary course of action that must be pursued to recover compensation when the at-fault driver is uninsured will depend upon the circumstances, although most of the time injured parties turn to their own policy’s uninsured/underinsured coverage for compensation. If you do not have this type of insurance, or if it is not enough to pay for the full value of your losses, you may consider filing a suit directly against the at-fault driver. However, this is often futile, as the other driver may not have the economic means to pay your claim, even if a court sides in your favor. Our lawyers help you to explore all avenues to recovery.
Can I File a Lawsuit After an Auto Accident?
Yes – tort liability laws hold that you can file a claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company after a crash, or file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver. Typically, a lawsuit is not filed unless a settlement cannot be reached. The process usually goes something like this:
- Evidence is gathered regarding fault and damages
- A claim is filed with the insurance company
- A demand letter is sent to the insurance company, which details the amount of damages you have suffered and how much you are requesting in compensation
- The insurance company replies to your demand and offers a settlement
- You negotiate the settlement
- Settlement is reached and the claim is concluded
When a fair settlement cannot be reached, you can file a lawsuit and bring the case to court. If this happens, the court will decide whether or not the defendant owes you any compensation, and if so, how much.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
While recovering from your car accident may take months, it is important that you make sure you bring forth your claim within two years from the date of your accident. The two year time limit is the statute of limitations in Virginia for car accident cases, and if you breach it, you will be barred from recovering damages at all. While it can be difficult to do, we recommend calling our Virginia auto accident attorneys as soon as possible after a crash.
We Have What You Are Looking for in a Car Accident Attorney
Being involved in an auto accident is scary. We know that there are few things more terrifying than wondering what your life will look like in the future because your physical well-being, and your financial security, are up in the air. While we cannot change the awful fact that you have been in a car crash, we can provide you with some comfort moving forward. When you contact the experienced Virginia car accident attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead we will get to work on building your case and helping you recover the financial award you need. We also work on distracted driving accident injuries.
Please do not wait any longer to contact us. We represent car accident victims and surviving family members. You can schedule your consultation by calling us at 703-361-1555 or you can contact us online.