What Are The First Things You Look For in a Fairfax Car Accident?

Liability in our jurisdictions and contributory negligence are two very big issues that you need to answer first. Typically, from the macro level, you always have to look for liability and damages, but because we operate in jurisdictions where contributory negligence comes into play, we have to ask a few extra questions when we’re evaluating a case.

For example, if it’s a case where someone’s at a red light and they get rear ended by a drunk driver, liability is usually pretty clear. In Virginia, those cases may even lend themselves to exemplary or punitive damages, which is good for plaintiffs and it’s good for communities because it sends a message to everyone in the community that reckless and irresponsible behavior that puts other people at risk is not acceptable.

But if liability is not as clear, say maybe you are involved in an accident at an unmarked intersection or if there’s a roundabout and it’s not clear who had the right of way, something like that, and both drivers give conflicting statements to the police, a lot of the times the attorney needs to do an investigation that includes going to the scene and seeing what the traffic flows are like, identifying potential witnesses, sources of video footage, and that sort of thing.

Liability and Damages

You always look to see about liability and damages to see if it’s something where the involvement of an attorney would be necessary, and a lot of the time, you’re not going to know the extent of your damages until well after the accident with, which is something that a lot of people think “oh well, I feel okay now. I’m just not going to go to the doctor,” or maybe they refuse medical treatment at the scene and then maybe they feel sore the next day and they think it’s going to get better.

It’s always tough to really evaluate a case without speaking to somebody. You’re either having a long phone conversation or having them come into your office to speak to them face-to-face, but if they don’t seek medical treatment right away, that makes it more difficult to establish the causation of their injuries.

If we’re talking to somebody who was in an accident, say 3 weeks ago, one of the first things we want to ask them is,  what medical treatment have you had, where did you go for treatment, how soon after the accident, have you had a follow-up visit, those sort of things. Because if they haven’t sought medical treatment in the first 3 weeks, that brings up a lot of other issues as far as causation that are just going to be that much harder for a plaintiff to prove their case. So it really depends on what time the person comes to you as an attorney in relation to when the accident occurred, and what sort of treatment they have had up until that point. Liability and damages basically are the threshold questions, and unfortunately, contributory negligence kind of shaves off the liability in a lot of cases that would otherwise be viable in other jurisdictions.

Are Damages To Property Handled Differently Then Injures to a Person?

Typically, yes, and the biggest reason for that is that a property damage claim is a separate claim, so it is going to have a completely different adjuster with the other party’s insurance company. Normally your own insurance company will be dealing with the property damage adjuster, and your attorney’s office will deal with the bodily injury adjuster, because a bodily injury claim is a separate claim from a property damage claim. Sometimes our office will assist with resolving a property damage claim, but generally that gets worked out between the insurance companies.