To prevail in a personal injury claim, you must be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant is legally responsible for having caused your injuries. Once you’ve established the defendant’s legal responsibility, or liability, you can demand compensation. However, proving your case is not always as easy as you might expect, given Virginia’s liability laws. At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we believe it’s important for you to understand how the law operates, so you can make well-informed decisions about litigation strategy. Ultimately, you must make the decision to accept a settlement offer or take a case to trial. To render that decision, you must understand liability.
Virginia is one of the few remaining states that adhere to a law of contributory negligence. The law says that if a plaintiff in an accident case did anything at all to contribute to the accident, the plaintiff cannot recover damages from a defendant, even if the defendant is mostly responsible. Courts judge a plaintiff’s contributory negligence by the same standard as a defendant’s negligence: preponderance of the evidence. That is not a high bar. It is not “beyond a reasonable doubt;” preponderance of the evidence only requires a judge or jury to determine that an assertion is more likely to be true than not.
This bar to recovery is one of the biggest reasons you need an experienced injury attorney on your side. Imagine you’ve suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses due to medical expenses and lost earnings projected over your lifetime. Now imagine that a defense attorney convinces the jury that there is a 51 percent chance that you were one percent at fault, and you collect nothing.
Like every other state, Virginia requires drivers to carry a minimum level of liability insurance in case of an accident. Unfortunately, this statutory minimum ($25,000 for a single personal injury, $50,000 for the total of all injuries, and $25,000 in property damage) is rarely enough to cover losses from a serious traffic accident. However, an experienced attorney can often maximize your recovery despite these limits.
In addition to liability, you may also need to know how the statute of limitations operates and how Virginia treats wrongful death differently from personal injury. If you’re also wondering how to file a claim and how much filing costs, we can answer these questions as well.
When asserting a personal injury claim, there is no substitute for experience. At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to manage your case efficiently. To schedule a free consultation with a dedicated, local attorney, call (888) 351-1038 or contact our office online.
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