blog home Personal Injury What is “contributory negligence” in Virginia, and how does it affect me?

What is “contributory negligence” in Virginia, and how does it affect me?

By Ken Gibson on July 20, 2023

If somebody hurts you or your family member, he should have to pay for it. That’s the principle behind personal injury law. That’s why your personal injury attorney can help you file a successful claim and win a settlement in Virginia.

Unfortunately, Virginia also has a law called contributory negligence that makes it difficult for plaintiffs to pursue fair compensation after they have been injured by another person’s careless behavior.

Contributory negligence is the most frequently used defense tactic to prevent or reduce personal injury claims in Virginia. That’s why it’s important to speak with a personal injury attorney who understands the ins and outs of contributory negligence before filing a personal injury claim in Virginia.

What is “negligence” in a personal injury claim?

According to personal injury law, citizens have a duty of care to avoid harming others. When a person fails to take reasonable precautions to avoid harming others, it’s called negligence, which is the legal basis for a personal injury lawsuit.

Examples of negligence include:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Allowing a violent dog to roam free
  • Texting while driving
  • Hiring a delivery or truck driver with an unsafe record
  • Failing to install self-closing and self-latching pool area gates
  • Failing to provide enough personal floatation devices for all the people on a boat

What is the “contributory negligence” law in Virginia?

When it comes to personal injury claims, most states follow the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under this standard, a plaintiff who is partly responsible for his own injuries can still receive compensation against the person who harmed him. But the amount of compensation may be reduced based on the plaintiff’s own behavior. Under comparative negligence, for example, a woman who was injured when a drunk driver crashed into her may have her settlement reduced if the woman was speeding at the time of the accident.

However, according to Virginia’s doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff must be completely without fault to recover damages after an accident. If the other side can demonstrate that someone was even one percent responsible for her own injuries, the claim may be denied.

Contributory negligence is an outdated legal concept that only applies in Virginia, Kentucky, and Massachusetts.

Can a  personal injury attorney still help you get fair compensation in Virginia?

Personal injury law in Virginia involves complex legal issues. Your chances of filing a successful claim are much better if you have the right attorney by your side to protect your rights and guide you through the legal process.

Contributory negligence places an unfair burden on personal injury plaintiffs in Virginia. Fortunately, there are exceptions to contributory negligence, and recent legal precedents can help you win your claim.

What types of personal injury cases can I file in Virginia?

If you’ve been injured due to another person’s careless behavior, you have the right to seek compensation. Accident victims in Virginia can file a personal injury claim for many types of accidents, including:

What can I do after I’m hurt to help my chances of recovering my costs of injury?

There are steps you can take after an accident to strengthen your claim. These include:

  1. Use your cell phone to take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene.
  2. Collect contact information from all witnesses.
  3. Contact a personal injury attorney right away.
  4. Don’t discuss your case with anyone besides your attorney.
  5. Don’t talk about your case on social media.
  6. Don’t make any statements about the accident to an insurance agent.
  7. Let your attorney do all the negotiating with the insurance agent.

Who can help me if I was harmed by somebody’s careless behavior?

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident caused by another person’s careless behavior, we know how to help at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. We’ll file a claim against the person who negligently harmed you to help you recover the cost of your medical bills and other expenses, such as lost income.

We bring a long and successful track record to your case. And we treat all our clients with the respect and personal attention you deserve. One of our mottos is “big city experience, small town care.”

At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we won’t charge you anything unless we win your case – it’s our Zero Fee Guarantee. We also don’t charge to meet with you to hear your story and discuss your best options with you.

Please call us at (804) 413-6777 to learn more today.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.