Virginia Auto Accident Cases
Virginia is the 35th largest geographical state in the U.S. with over 42,000 square miles within its territory, but it is one of the largest states on the east coast and the 2nd biggest state in the Mid-Atlantic region. Within this large territory is sweeping, diverse range of geography extended from the coastal plains of the Chesapeake tidewater region in the east to the elevated hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west.
The 70,000 miles of roads and highways which connect Virginia's large territory are also highly diverse in nature. Northern Virginia, which includes the Washington DC metropolitan area, has the southern half of the DC Beltway and tangle web of other high volume highways and roads connecting the state to the Capital City across the Potomac. Northern Virginia is notorious for traffic gridlock and the DC area has the 2nd worst traffic congestion in the entire nation. By contrast, traffic on the rest of Virginia's roadways is comparatively light. Despite the traffic conditions in Northern Virginia, the state as a whole ranks with the 21st best traffic conditions in the U.S.
Another unique aspect of Virginia's highway system is that road maintenance, ownership and authority is highly centralized. In many states, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, responsibility for roads is delegated to local counties or townships. This means that each locality is tasked with maintaining the roads within its own borders. In Virginia, however, about 80% of the 70k miles of road are owned and maintained at the state level by the Virginia Department of Transportation. As a result VDOT oversees the 3rd biggest state highway system in the entire country. This centralization has resulted in very well maintained roads and highways.Virginia Auto Accident Statistics
There are just over 6 million licensed drivers in the Commonwealth of Virginia and 8.2 million vehicles registered in the state. On average there are about 125,000 police-reported auto accidents in the state on an annual basis. Approximately half of these accidents involve some type of physical injuries to drivers or passengers. In 2017 a total of 843 were killed in accidents on Virginia's roadways, a slight increased over the declining state average of 725.
Almost all of the 843 traffic fatalities in Virginia in 2017 involved alcohol, excessive speeds, or lack of seat-belts. Out of the 843 fatalities 608 were drivers, 121 were passengers and the remaining 114 were pedestrians. Alcohol-related auto accident fatalities totaled 248 while speeding and not using seat-belts accounted for another 626. Virginia's death rate per 1,000 is only 0.14 which is very good. The most dangerous counties in 2017 were Amelia County and Buckingham County which each had 7 fatalities resulting in death rates just under 0.70.Virginia Car Accident & Insurance Laws
Like all states, car accidents in Virginia are governed by a combination of traffic law (stopping, speeding, right-of-way, etc.); insurance law; and tort law (negligence). A brief summary of these applicable laws in Virginia is outlined below.At-Fault Rule
Unlike many other states which have adopted "no-fault" rules for car insurance coverage, Virginia continues to be a pure "at-fault" state for auto accidents. This means that when an auto accident occurs the at-fault driver's insurance will always have primary responsibility for covering the damages. Drivers only get coverage by their own insurance if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. This makes the determination of fault in an accident very important in Virginia, even for minor damages.Statute of Limitations
In Virginia the statute of limitations for claims involving personal injury or death resulting from an auto accident is 2-years. Va. Code § 8.01-243. For cases involving injuries only the 2 year limitation period begins to run on the date the accident occurs. For auto accident claims involving death the 2-years begins to run from the date of death. Accident claims involving property damage only are subject to a longer 5-year statute of limitations in Virginia.Contributory Negligence
Virginia is among the small handful of states that continue to follow the rule of contributory negligence in auto accident and other tort cases involving mutual degrees of fault. This rule basically says that a plaintiff cannot recover damages for an auto accident unless the other driver is found to be 100% at fault for the accident.Virginia Car Accident Settlements & Verdicts
Below are recent jury verdicts and reported settlements for auto tort cases in Virginia which should provide some idea of how much Virginia auto accident cases can be worth.
- Mack v Snead (Virginia 2022) $460,000: A 44-year-old man was rear-ended in Prince William County. He suffered a right meniscus tear. The man underwent a knee arthroscopy. He experienced permanent knee pain. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he unsafely operated his vehicle. The Prince William County jury awarded $460,000.
- Snipes v Winslow (Virginia 2022) $1,000,000: A man helped his employer deliver a work van. He drove the vehicle while his employer followed him in a separate vehicle. The van stalled at a red light. The man exited the vehicle. He and his employer attempted to tow it. Another vehicle struck the van. The impact crushed the man underneath. He suffered a traumatic brain injury. The man could not work for a prolonged period. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed he failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. He also made a UIM claim against State Farm. This case settled for $1,000,000.
- Mack v Catlin (Virginia 2021) $84,000: A 38-year-old motorcyclist was broadsided. He suffered a five-inch right leg laceration and right patella chondromalacia. The man experienced limited right knee mobility. His plastic surgery expert opined that he required a scar revision procedure. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he made an illegal U-tern and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $84,000.
- Plaintiff v Verdict (Virginia 2021) $1,820,000: A woman was T-boned at a Loudon County intersection. She suffered a concussion. The woman was hospitalized for an extended period. She developed multiple cognitive disorders. The woman was now at high risk for seizures, dementia, depression, Parkinsonism, and endocrine disorders. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he ran a red light and failed to yield the right-of-way. This case settled for $1,820,000.
- Plaintiff v State Farm (Virginia 2021) $125,000: A cyclist was struck near downtown Norfolk. She fractured her pelvis, tibia, and fibula. The woman received hardware implants. She recovered well. However, the woman continued to experience some pain during physical activity. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed they failed to yield the right-of-way and maintain an appropriate lookout. She also made a UIM claim against State Farm. This case settled for $125,000.
- Plaintiff v Defendant (Virginia 2020) $450,000: An 82-year-old woman was sideswiped by a truck on a local highway. She suffered a mild concussion, a neck fracture, a wrist fracture, and soft-tissue injuries. The woman alleged negligence against the truck driver. She claimed he made an unsafe left turn and failed to yield the right-of-way. This case settled for $450,000.
- Leifker v Palermino (Virginia 2020) $300,000: A woman was struck while sweeping a sidewalk. She fell to the ground and was run over. The woman suffered right femur, left ankle, and rib fractures. She underwent emergency open reduction internal fixation procedures to her right femur and left ankle. The woman also underwent in-patient rehabilitative therapy and out-patient physical therapy. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed she failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $300,000.
- Tuttle v Wallin (Virginia 2019) $215,000: A woman was rear-ended. The impact pushed her 100 feet into a ditch. Her vehicle rolled over. The woman suffered a skull fracture, a traumatic brain injury, head and neck lacerations, and the aggravation of a pre-existing left rotator cuff injury. She underwent a rotator cuff repair. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he improperly controlled his vehicle. This case settled for $215,000.
- Currie v Tuladhar (Virginia 2019) $90,000: A 50-year-old state trooper was involved in a chain-reaction collision. He suffered lumbar sprains and strains and the aggravation of his pre-existing neck injuries. The man underwent physical therapy and injections. He alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed he failed to safely operate his vehicle. The Henrico County jury awarded $90,000.
- Marks v Patterson (Virginia 2018) $15,000: plaintiff is on 265 in Norfolk when he takes the off ramp for St. Paul's Blvd and stops at the red light at the end of the ramp. Defendant takes the same off ramp and rear-ends him at the light causing unspecific soft-tissue injuries. Jury awards $15k in damages.
- GEICO v A.B. (Virginia 2018) $25,000: minor plaintiff is a passenger in his mother's car when she is involved in an accident with defendant on Tidewater Drive in Norfolk. Minor alleges various soft tissue injuries as a result of the accident but defendant's insurer, GEICO, initially denies liability. GEICO eventually offers to settle the claims for $25,000 which is accepted.
- Williams v Copeland (Virginia 2018) $25,000: middle aged female is driving on the highway when her vehicle is struck in a multi-car pileup caused by defendant. She allegedly suffers mild cervical and lumbar strains and right knee, elbow, wrist and hand contusions. Liability is admitted and the case goes to trial on damages. The jury awards $25k to plaintiff.
- State Farm v B.P. (Virginia 2018) $100,000: plaintiff-mother is driving with her minor daughter on Jefferson Ave in Newport News when she is struck by defendant. Her daughter suffers fairly significant injuries and she sues the other driver on her behalf. The at-fault driver's insurance company, State Farm, agrees to settle for $100,000.
- GEICO v Sjostrom (Virginia 2018) $50,000: decedent is driving a rental car at the intersection of Military Highway and Eagle Avenue in Chesapeake when she is struck and ultimately killed by defendant. Her survivors bring a wrongful death action against defendant and uninsured motorist claims against the rental car insurance company. Both insurers settle for policy limits of $25,000 for a total of $50,000.
- Progressive v A.O. (Virginia 2018) $125,000: mother is riding her bike in Virginia Beach with her young daughter riding behind in a bike-trailer for kids. Defendant driver hits the bike trailer causing the daughter to suffer fairly significant injuries. Fault for the accident is not in dispute and defendant's insurer, Progressive, agrees to settle the claim for $125,000.
If you have a car accident claim or lawsuit in Virginia the accident lawyers at Miller & Zois can help get you the best possible results. Call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.