The state of Virginia is home to over 8.5 million people. To service this huge population, Virginia has the third-largest, state-maintained highway system in the country with more than 70,000 miles of roadways.
Driving in 2021 increased roughly 15.5% percent between 2020 and 2021, likely due to increased travel with less concern around the pandemic. Even the number of licensed drivers and registered vehicles increased by just under 1% from 2020 to 2021.
Vehicle crashes are unfortunately common in Virginia. In fact, according to data from 2021, there are 161 people injured every day in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2021, the state saw 967 fatalities, an increase of 15% from 2020. The year 2021 marked a 14-year high for traffic fatalities in the state.
No matter what kind of accident you might be involved in, a Virginia car accident attorney can be helpful. They not only explain your rights and obligations, but they can often help you obtain the compensation you may be entitled to after a crash.
During 2021, some categories of accidents in Virginia increased dramatically. Teen driver fatalities increased by 55.6% from 2020 to 2021. Of the 967 fatalities that occurred in Virginia during 2021, 98 of those were teens between the ages of 15 and 19.
Many blame distractions like social media and texting for the increase in teen fatalities. Distracted driving actually decreased from 2020 to 2021. In analyzing numbers from 2018 to 2020, Virginia ranked number 11 in the country for distracted driving fatalities.
So far in 2022, there have been 751 fatalities. The total number of crashes reported through the end of July 2022 is also down — just 66,180 compared to 118,498 in 2021. The number of serious injuries so far in 2022 is 4,158, compared to nearly 7,400 in 2021.
The potential for a fatal accident increases when drivers or passengers are not wearing their seatbelts. The likelihood that drivers or passengers are ejected from a vehicle increases dramatically if they are not wearing seatbelts. Of the fatal crashes in Virginia, 47.7% were not wearing seatbelts.
On average, there is one car accident in Virginia every 4.4 minutes (based on 2021 data). Roughly one driver in every 28 drivers will be involved in an accident. The vast majority of crashes (70.1%) in Virginia include more than one vehicle.
Driver error is a common reason that car accidents occur, which often leads to a crash with another car. In those situations, having a Virginia car accident attorney on your side is helpful. They will help protect your rights, gather evidence, and assert your claim in front of an insurance company, judge, or jury.
The most dangerous stretch of road in Virginia is on Interstate 64, from Exit 261A to Exit 264. From 2018 to 2020, this area of I-64 saw 11 fatal accidents. Drunk driving and speeding were the biggest factors in fatal crashes between 2018 and 2020 in this area.
Negligence is a legal term that essentially means a lack of reasonable care. It compares what a reasonable person would do in a similar circumstance. If someone does not act reasonably, they are being “negligent.”
Everyone owes each other a simple duty to avoid injuring another person or their property. When someone violates that duty, they are negligent.
In general, being negligent does not mean that someone intentionally harms another person. However, the act itself might be intentional, even if they did not mean to hurt anyone.
A car accident victim has to prove that the other driver was negligent to receive monetary damages after a crash. To do that, they will usually work with a Virginia car accident attorney to gather facts and information. As a general rule, every car accident victim will have to prove negligence by showing the following:
- Every driver has a duty to operate their vehicle in a safe manner based on the circumstances. That duty is generally referred to as “reasonable care” for drivers of passenger vehicles. Commercial drivers often have a higher standard that they must follow. Under either standard, drivers must at the minimum follow the rules of the road and take action to avoid accidents if possible.
- Car accident victims will work with their Virginia car accident lawyer to show that the other driver breached their duty of care. Many driver errors are breaches of the duty of care. Other examples might include speeding or running a traffic light. Driving drunk or under the influence of other drugs would also likely be considered a breach of the duty of care.
- There must be a causal connection between the breach of the duty of care, the accident, and the resulting damages. The breach of care must have caused the accident, and the accident in turn must have also caused the damages. In addition, the damages must have been a foreseeable (or possible) result of the breach.
- Money damages awarded after a car accident are supposed to put victims back in the place that they would have been if the accident had never happened. However, if you did not suffer any damages (injuries, lost time from work, property damage, etc.), then you cannot recover anything.
In most car accident cases, the victim suffers some kind of damage, whether it is dealing with hospital bills or the mental anguish involved from being in a car accident. Whatever your damages may be, a Virginia car accident attorney can help you prove those damages so you can get the compensation you may be entitled to after a crash.
The Collateral Source Rule
In a car accident case, there are two competing principles on the issue of damages. First, a car accident victim should recover enough money to make them whole after a crash. On the other hand, the defendant should have to pay as much as would make the victim whole. A car accident victim is not allowed under Virginia law to receive a windfall from the money they receive after an accident.
In many cases, health insurance or other types of entities will cover payments for medical expenses on behalf of car accident victims. However, Virginia law favors car accident victims, so it does not permit a defendant to enter any evidence at trial about insurance coverage.
The Supreme Court of Virginia Rule 2:411 specifically states no one can submit evidence about whether someone is insured. In addition, no one can submit evidence about insurance as it relates to the amount of damages. This means that your Virginia car accident attorney cannot provide evidence about insurance, and neither can the defendant in your car accident case.
In many situations, a car accident victim will have to reimburse a health insurance company or another third-party payer for their contribution. In those situations, showing that the victim got money from their insurance might have the negative effect of further decreasing the funds they might receive from a jury decision.
These situations can be complicated. Having a Virginia car accident lawyer to help you navigate these issues can be helpful.
Dram Shop Laws in Virginia
Virginia is one of just a few states that does not have a dram shop law. In many states, if a restaurant or bar over serves someone and they injure another person while intoxicated, that business could be legally liable. Some states extend this rule to social hosts as well.
In Virginia, however, businesses face no legal liability for the actions of an intoxicated person after that person leaves their place of business. Virginia law states consuming alcohol rather than providing it is the proximate cause of any alcohol-related accident.
In virtually every case, a car accident victim can still assert their civil claim for damages against the other driver involved in the crash. They cannot go a step further and request monetary damages from the restaurant, bar, or social host who may have over-served that driver before they got behind the wheel.
Social hosts who provide alcohol to minors can still be cited and face criminal charges.
Talk to a Virginia car accident lawyer for a full understanding of your legal options if you have been involved in a car accident with a drunk driver.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is a legal term that means “negligence in itself.” It sets out that certain actions are automatically negligent under Virginia law.
The most common example of negligence per se in a car accident case is where a driver violates any rule of the road, and that violation leads to a car accident. For instance, if a driver runs a stop sign and hits your car, that is likely negligence per se.
Virginia has slightly stricter requirements when it comes to negligence per se. Car accident victims should work with their Virginia car accident lawyer to prove the following in cases involving negligence per se.
1. The defendant violated a statute or other law.
First, the defendant must have violated a law to trigger negligence per se. Most of these laws relate to traffic laws and rules of the road in car accident cases.
2. The car accident victim must be in the group of people the law was designed to protect.
The law must also be focused on protecting people like those who were involved in the accident. In car accident cases, this rule is pretty straightforward, but it is not automatic. For example, if a driver ignored a speed limit associated with a school zone, that might not trigger negligence per se when that driver hit another car. The speed limit in the school zone was designed to protect students and other pedestrians, not necessarily other drivers.
On the other hand, however, any speed limit is supposed to protect everyone on the road, so you might still have an argument in that type of case. Talk to a Virginia car accident lawyer for legal advice about your situation.
3. The statute was designed to prevent the type of injury that occurred.
Most traffic laws are specifically targeted to keep everyone safe on the road. That means, in many cases, any traffic law is designed to prevent an accident. However, some laws are more focused on protecting bicyclists or pedestrians. In that case, those laws might not be relevant if one driver hit another car, even if the accident occurred while the driver violated a law designed to protect bicyclists or pedestrians.
Get help from a Virginia car accident lawyer on this issue. Do not make assumptions about who a statue should or should not help. In most cases, statutes are general enough that they might fit someone in your situation, no matter what the circumstances may be.
4. The violation was the proximate cause of the car accident victim’s injury.
Remember, there must be causation between the reason the accident happened and the resulting damages. If a driver ran a stop light two blocks before getting into a car accident, for example, the causation requirement between the accident and running the red light may not be satisfied.
Even though negligence per se may seem straightforward, it can still be complicated in Virginia. Talk to a Virginia car accident lawyer for more information about whether negligence per se might apply to your case.
Most states have comparative negligence, which essentially reduces any recovery that a car accident victim can receive by the amount of fault attributed to the victim in the accident. For example, if the victim is found to be 10% at fault, then they can recover 90% of their damages from the defendant.
Virginia, however, is a “pure contributory negligence” state. That means that if the car accident victim contributed to the accident, they cannot recover monetary damages. The other driver has to be 100% at fault for a car accident victim to recover anything.
While this rule may seem harsh, there are a number of exceptions. Do not assume you are out of options because you may have contributed to a crash. Talk to a Virginia car accident attorney before you settle your case or make any decisions about whether to assert a claim.
Virginia does not use pure comparative negligence in situations involving some common carriers. Speak with a Virginia car accident lawyer to learn more about this exception as well.
Crash Statistics for the 5 Largest Cities in Virginia
It is not surprising that larger cities see more accidents compared to less populated areas. There are more people in a smaller area, so collisions are bound to happen. If you are involved in a car accident in any city in Virginia, reach out to a Virginia car accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Virginia Beach had the highest number of overall crashes and fatalities. Compared to the number of licensed drivers, it was actually on the lower end for fatalities per 1,000 drivers. That rate was 0.10 in 2021.
The area of US-13 from Indian River Road to Baker Road between Virginia Beach and Norfolk makes the top-ten list of most dangerous roads in Virginia. Between 2018 and 2021, this road had 7 fatal accidents and 8 total fatalities.
Chesapeake has just over a quarter of a million people as of population counts for 2022. In 2021, there were 2,328 crashes that resulted in 24 fatalities and 1,484 injuries within the city.
Arlington is the seat of Arlington County. It has roughly 245,000 residents. Although the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles did not report specific numbers for Arlington (the city) for 2021, it reported on the county as a whole. Arlington County had 1,773 accidents that resulted in 4 fatalities and 734 injuries. Of those accidents, 487 were speed-related, 172 were alcohol-related, and 61 crashes involved unrestrained drivers or passengers.
In 2021, Norfolk saw 4,399 accidents. Those crashes resulted in 28 fatalities and 2,253 injuries. The rate of fatalities in accidents per licensed driver is nearly double compared to Virginia Beach. The rate of fatalities per 1,000 drivers in Norfolk is 0.22.
Norfolk is also home to the third-most dangerous road in Virginia. The area on Interstate 64 between Exit 281 and Exit 274 had 8 fatal accidents between 2018 and 2021. Because this stretch of road is only 5 miles, that means that the rate of fatalities per mile is 1.6.
Richmond rounds out the top-five most populated cities in Virginia with a population of 231,090 based on the most recent numbers from 2022. Richmond had 5,656 accidents in 2021. Those resulted in 17 fatalities and 2,665 injuries. Richmond has 155,517 licensed drivers, which means the fatality rate per licensed driver during 2021 was 0.011.
Richmond County (outside city limits) also saw 95 accidents in 2021. There were just 3 fatalities and 55 injuries. However, there are 7,000 licensed drivers in Richmond County. That means the fatality rate per 1,000 drivers was a high 0.43.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Virginia, contact Accident.com to learn more about your options with a Virginia car accident attorney.