Auto Accident Representation in Alexandria
Dedicated legal service from experienced professionals
Living in such a high-volume, heavy traffic area with more commuters than room on 395, automobile accidents are inevitable. However, these accidents can bring lives to a screeching halt. From injuries, property damage, and lost hours and wages from work, many people are overwhelmed and uncertain what to do after an accident. This is when insurance companies and others will take advantage of those who were injured due to another’s negligence.
In general, drivers are expected to exercise reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle. Car accident lawsuits generally focus on whether a driver:
- Was looking out for all situations that could result in an accident
- Was operating the motor vehicle at a reasonable rate of speed
- Kept the vehicle under proper control
A car accident lawsuit also focuses on whether a driver was acting in a manner that created an unreasonable risk. For example, if a driver was typing a text message on a mobile phone just before colliding with your vehicle, he or she had a responsibility to anticipate that this kind of distracting activity could result in an accident.
For a motorist to be held legally responsible for a personal injury or wrongful death, it must be demonstrated that his careless conduct caused or contributed to the injuries. For example, a pedestrian injured by a motorist must prove that she was not at fault and that the motorist’s actions caused her injury. If the pedestrian’s reckless behavior caused the injury, the driver may not be liable which means the pedestrian would not be able to collect compensation from the motorist under Virginia law.
Common causes of car accidents
Despite ever-evolving vehicle safety features and stricter driving laws, car, truck and motorcycle accidents still happen quite often on Virginia’s roads and highways. The reasons for these accidents vary, but many of them are preventable if drivers take the time to better understand the most common hazards on the road. The following are some of the most common causes of car crashes resulting in personal injuries in the Alexandria area:
Drunk driving. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses one of the greatest risks to both drivers and passengers. Substance use impairs drivers’ motor skills and reduces their ability to respond effectively to traffic conditions.
Speeding. Traveling too fast leaves less time for drivers to react to avoid a crash and tends to make accidents more severe. Speeding accounted for 91 deaths on Virginia roads in 2012, equaling nearly 10 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Distracted drivers. Drivers face many distractions on the road — both inside and outside the vehicle — that can lead them to lose focus and crash their vehicle. These may include cell phones, food, other passengers, and slowing down to gawk at an accident.
Driver fatigue. When drivers are tired, they are more likely to make mistakes behind the wheel that can have devastating results. In 2012, fatigued drivers accounted for nearly 3 percent of traffic fatalities in Virginia. Symptoms of fatigue include heavy eyelids, yawning, drifting over road lines, inexplicably varying speeds and misjudging traffic situations. Drivers of 18-wheelers are especially susceptible to this issue.
Aggressive driving. Impatient or pushy drivers exhibit behaviors that can increase the likelihood of an auto accident. These behaviors include tailgating, frequently changing lanes, failing to yield to other cars and flashing lights at other drivers.
Weather. Although we cannot control the weather, it is important to recognize that it can have a tremendous impact on drivers’ safety on the road. In 2012, 16 percent of auto crashes were caused by adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, sleet and fog.
Virginia’s distracted driving laws
Because cell phones are so common and are a well-known distraction on the road, many states, including Virginia, have passed legislation to curtail the use of these devices while driving. Although our commonwealth has not outright banned the use of cell phones in the car, it has made it illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to talk on a cell phone. Further, all drivers regardless of age are restricted from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
- Be safe. Pull over after the collision, and if the car is smoking or leaking, try to get out of the vehicle. Avoid traffic as much as possible to lessen the chance of causing another accident. Check yourself for broken bones, lacerations, or any other pains. If possible help others who may have been involved in the collision, especially if they are injured badly.
- Call the police. Police officers may create a report based on the amount of damage to the cars or the injuries involved. However, even if a full report is not written, the police may give a citation to the driver at fault and will facilitate the exchange of information between the involved drivers.
- Do not lie and do not admit fault. After the accident you may be interviewed by police, medical providers, and insurance companies. Answer their questions honestly but leave it to the officer, judge, or insurance carrier to make a decision about fault.
- Exchange information. You will need the other driver’s pertinent information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, and driver’s license number. Do not forget to get the information of any witnesses that might be there. The more information the better. However, if the other driver is hostile or not approachable, just wait for the police to arrive. They will facilitate this exchange of information.
- TAKE PICTURES. In today’s world, almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera. During the claims process, it will be helpful to have pictures of the vehicles involved and the location where the accident happened. So, take a few while you are at the scene.
- Call your insurance company. You are obligated by your insurance contract to notify your insurance carrier when a collision has occurred as soon as possible. It is also imperative that all drivers understand what their insurance covers and what kind of insurance they have.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This pays your medical bills and lost earnings, up to a certain limit. This coverage applies regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
- Bodily Injury Liability: If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, that party’s Bodily Injury Liability coverage should compensate you for all losses sustained as a result of your injuries.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This is coverage you buy to cover yourself and your passengers if you are injured by a driver who has no auto insurance or who does not have sufficient coverage to fully compensate you for your losses.
- Go to the hospital. You may feel fine at the time, but symptoms from crashes often manifest hours and sometimes days later. By going to the doctor early some of these later pains may be alleviated. Below is a list of common car accident injuries:
- Head injuries: These may include brain injuries, concussions or contusions that could result in memory issues, seizures or loss of consciousness. The extent of the injury depends on its location and severity.
- Back and neck injuries: The impact of a car accident and the resulting torque on the bodies of the vehicle’s occupants can cause sprains, strains, fractures, disc injuries and spinal injuries. These can take the longest to manifest.
- Facial injuries: These injuries range in severity from scrapes and scratches to jaw and dental fractures.
- Internal injuries: In severe car accidents, internal organs may become damaged.
- Psychological injuries: Victims of car accidents could suffer serious psychological problems including depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is important to consult with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and to assist you in working with the insurance company to obtain full and fair compensation for your damages. In Virginia, you have two years to file a car accident claim, but taking immediate legal action allows your attorney to preserve important evidence that will enhance your case.
Consult a dedicated, experienced attorney in Alexandria, VA
To schedule an appointment with our skilled legal team, call Curcio Bergeron at 703-666-8858 or contact our Alexandria office online.