Richmond, Virginia, Auto Accident Attorney
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are one of the primary causes of unintentional injury and death in the United States each year. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), Richmond experienced more than 5,000 car crashes last year, over half of which resulted in injury. Sadly, the city experienced 21 traffic fatalities in the same year. Not only do auto accidents result in serious injuries for thousands of people, but also they cost millions in lost productivity and medical expenses. Even more shocking might be the fact that most motor vehicle accidents are avoidable, caused by negligence and poor driving choices.
At Emroch & Kilduff, we have witnessed the devastation that auto accidents can cause. We have represented countless accident victims in our over 40 years of service. Since 1972, we have helped victims who have been injured in auto accidents hold negligent parties liable and recover compensation for their losses. If you have been injured in an auto accident and aren’t certain about your next steps, or how you will afford the losses caused by your injury, contact our legal team today or call us at (804) 358-1568 for a free consultation.
Most Common Causes of Richmond Car Accidents
Most car accidents are preventable and occur when one or more drivers fail to act with a reasonable amount of care. The following include some of the major negligence-related causes of auto accidents in Virginia, according to VDOT:
- Speeding. Speed-related car crashes in Virginia increase each year, albeit only by a slight margin. The most recent yearly data shows that almost 24,000 accidents occurred from speeding on Virginia roads, which resulted in almost 13,000 injuries and 231 fatalities. This accounts for about 20 percent of traffic crashes in Virginia and 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. More than 85 percent of speed related auto accidents occur on Virginia’s interstates, indicating how important it is for drivers to slow down.
- Following too closely. Following another vehicle too closely is often related to accidents that involve speeding. In fact, one in four speed-related accidents in Virginia occurs because a driver was tailgating the car in front of them.
- Driving too fast for conditions. A driver may be driving too fast, even if they are traveling under or at the posted speed limit. Heavy traffic, wet roads, slippery roads, and other road hazards require drivers to slow down to avoid traffic accidents. Among all speeding-related accidents in Virginia, approximately 15 percent, or almost 4,000 auto accidents according to VDOT’s most recent annual data, occurred because the driver was driving too fast for conditions.
- Distracted driving. Driving while distracted has long been a major cause of automobile accidents across the nation, but the problem continues to increase. Many people think that using a cell phone or texting is the number one cause of distracted driving accidents, but VDOT reports cell phone usage and texting as the number three cause of distracted driving accidents in Virginia. The number one cause is actually people taking their eyes off the road, whether to adjust their GPS, reach for something, eat, or engage in a host of other activities. Watching a roadside incident or accident is the number two distraction for Virginia drivers. According to the most recent annual data, distracted driving led to almost 15,000 injuries and 208 fatalities in Virginia, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.
- Driving under the influence. Data that indicates the extent to which drugs cause car accidents in Virginia is not available, but drunk driving remains a leading cause of accidents in the state. Alcohol-related accidents accounted for more than 7,000 car crashes on Virginia roads in 2017, resulting in more than 4,400 injuries and 248 fatalities. VDOT reports that 240 of those accidents occurred inside Richmond’s city limits, resulting in 144 injuries and four deaths.
- Other violations. A wide variety of other traffic law violations also result in accidents on Virginia roads and across the nation. These violations might include reckless or careless driving, improper lane changes, failing to yield, and failing to follow traffic control signs and signals, as well as violating other posted traffic laws.
Fault in Virginia Car Accidents
Virginia is an at-fault state, often referred to as a tort liability state, which means that if you are hit by another driver and the accident would not have occurred if it weren’t for that driver’s actions, you can file a claim with his or her auto insurance carrier to seek compensation for damages. Many auto accidents occur because negligent drivers might have been speeding, driving under the influence of controlled substances, driving while distracted, or breaking some other traffic law. Yet, situations occur where a third party might be liable for an auto accident. Some examples include:
- A cyclist or pedestrian who stops traffic might cause an accident.
- A business that poorly maintains company vehicles might be liable if a breakdown or maintenance issue, such as a brake system failure or a tire blowout, causes an auto accident.
- A governmental entity might be liable if it neglected to maintain a road that led to an auto accident.
- A manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of auto parts or automobiles might be liable if a defective car or defective car part leads to an auto accident.
Auto Accidents May Lead to Multiple Types of Injuries
Injuries from an auto accident vary widely in type and severity depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, including the cause, the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, and how many vehicles were involved. Injuries that auto accident victims often incur include:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Lacerations, cuts, and scrapes
- Road rash if a driver or passenger is thrown from a vehicle
- Internal bleeding from organ injuries, often a result of broken ribs or puncture wounds
- Neck injuries such as whiplash
- Back injuries that might include herniated discs or cracked vertebrae
- Spinal cord injuries that might result in the loss of bodily functions and/or paralysis
- Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Burn injuries, some of which might be severe enough to warrant multiple reconstructive surgeries
- Coma, permanent vegetative state, and other conditions might be a result of the most severe car accidents
The Most Common Types of Compensation Involved in Auto Accident Lawsuits
Under Virginia law, auto accident victims might be eligible to recover damages for losses incurred due to their injury. Some of the most common damages from auto accidents include:
- Medical costs, including ambulance and emergency services, hospital stays, doctor visits, x-rays, surgery, and prescription medication
- Future medical costs for car accidents that result in long-term disabilities or chronic conditions, or if your recovery isn’t complete before settling or going to trial
- Lost wages for time missed from work as a result of injury
- Future lost wages in the event that an injury prevents one from returning to work or forces a career change
- Rehabilitation and recovery costs, including physical therapy services and assistive devices such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement, which are often associated with auto accidents that result in fire or explosion, but lacerations and amputations might also result in scars that cause humiliation for the victim.
Defense Strategies to Shift Blame and Avoid Damages
While at-fault drivers are responsible for paying for damage that they cause, insurance companies are not always eager to pay out claims. To avoid paying your valid claim, an insurance company may employ a number of tactics, including:
- Dispute the fault of its driver, alleging instead that you caused the accident
- Dispute the amount of property damage or medical bills you have incurred
- Dispute your injury, alleging that you were injured someplace else
- Dispute the value of your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering
Keep in mind that, because Virginia maintains a pure contributory negligence system of recovery, individuals whose actions contributed to their injuries whatsoever are barred from seeking damages. This means that an insurance company may fight hard to prove that you contributed to the accident to shield itself from liability. Virginia law gives you the right to seek compensation for the full value of economic and non-economic losses related to your car accident injuries. If the insurance company involved in your claim disputes fault or the severity of your injuries, you need an experienced attorney on your side who can represent you and maximize your chances of receiving compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
How Our Richmond Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You
We are passionate about helping our clients recover compensation for the full cost of their injuries. We understand that to do so, we must prove that the accident and injuries would not have occurred but for the negligence of the other driver and that our client in no way contributed to the accident. Some of the ways that we can help you try to recover compensation include:
- Investigating your accident to see exactly what happened
- Hiring accident reconstruction experts and forensic specialists to support your case
- Meeting with medical experts who can speak to the extent of your injuries
- Interviewing eyewitnesses and gathering witness statements
- Collecting police reports, medical records, and any other relevant documentation
- Ensuring that any and all evidence, ranging from video footage of the accident to electronic control module data, is collected and analyzed
- Determining the value of your damages with the help of psychological and financial experts
- Reviewing and advising on settlement offers, including rejecting offers that do not fully or fairly compensate you for damages
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters
- Going to court to litigate your case if settlement is not an option
Our attorneys also support clients throughout their entire claim process and handle all legal aspects of the claim. We are always available to answer questions and provide consultation.
What Steps Should You Take After a Car Accident in Richmond?
Whether you have just been involved in an accident, or if it has been a few days or weeks since your accident, there are certain actions that you should take to help support your insurance claim and subsequent lawsuit, if necessary. Your attorney will provide you with more specific instructions, but here are some tips regarding immediate steps to take following an auto accident:
- Seek medical attention. Some injuries, especially soft tissue injuries like whiplash and brain injuries, take hours, days, or even weeks before symptoms begin to develop. Even if you walked away from your auto accident without needing a ride to the local emergency room, you need to get checked out by a doctor. As previously mentioned, insurance companies might dispute your injuries or attempt to prove that the accident did not cause them. If you visit a doctor, your first priority should be receiving appropriate care, but you also should gather documentation to provide the insurance company and that your lawyer can use during settlement negotiations and litigation.
- Gather evidence. You should call the police immediately following an accident to file a report. Don’t rely on others to call emergency personnel. Make sure to get a copy of the police report, as it will have most of the information that you and your attorney will need; however, it’s in your best interest to gather additional information if physically able. If nothing else, the information that you gather should match the report. Ask other parties for their names, addresses, and insurance information. Take pictures or videos of license plates, the scene of the accident, and any visible property damage. If you have visible bruises, cuts, or other injuries, you should take photos of that as well.
- Don’t talk about your case. Friends and family will understandably be concerned about your well being, and if you sustain a serious injury in an auto accident, they will likely want to know the details of the accident. It’s in your best interest to avoid talking about your case with anyone but an experienced auto accident attorney. The defense and insurance company will investigate the accident too, searching for ways to avoid liability. You don’t want to provide them with an opportunity to use your words against you or to shift any portion of fault for the accident to you. Posting pictures and comments on social media might also put your case at risk, so you should refrain from sharing any details on social media.
Time Limits for Taking Legal Action For Your Auto Accident Injury
It is important to notify your insurance company of your car accident as soon as possible; if you wait too long, your insurance company may deny your claim. Virginia also has a two-year statute of limitations, which means that you must file any lawsuit within two years from the date of your accident. If you don’t file in time, you will be barred from receiving any compensation.
How We Can Help You and Your Family After an Auto Accident in Richmond
Choosing not to work with an attorney following your accident puts you at risk of having your car accident claim denied. Without legal representation, the insurance company may offer you a settlement that does not fully compensate you for your injuries. Sustaining a severe injury in an auto accident adds additional stress to your life, beyond just coping with the physical pain and length of the recovery process. Many auto accident victims must take time off from work to recover and thus lose income while their medical expenses continue to pile up. Enlisting the services of an experienced attorney often results in an immediate increase in the insurance company’s settlement offer, and can prove invaluable if your case goes to court.
When you work with the legal team at Emroch & Kilduff, we strive to get the best possible outcome for your individual situation. In the event that you’ve had a loved one die in a car crash, we also represent surviving family members who wish to file a wrongful death suit.
Contact Us Today for Your Free Consultation
We have more than 45 years of experience litigating car accident cases. Our skilled Richmond auto accident lawyers truly care about the outcome of your case and want to help you. We understand the struggles that you and your family go through after a serious auto accident, and we want to help you through this difficult time in your life. We explore all sources of compensation that might help you recover damages after a car crash, negotiate fiercely with opposing parties, and have extensive courtroom experience when settlement is not an option.
If you sustained an injury in an auto accident because of the negligence of another party, you deserve to be compensated for damages related to your injury. Call Emroch & Kilduff’s Richmond office today at (804) 358-1568, or contact us online, to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today regarding your case. We typically handle personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you don’t need to pay up front; we will recover attorney’s fees from any compensation that we secure for you.