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Safety First

By Brett J. West, Trial Attorney with the Pendleton Law Team

In order to get full and fair recovery for your personal injury claim, it’s important to show that while someone else’s negligence caused you injury, YOU were driving carefully and legally.

Seat belts

  • When driving or in the front passenger seat, it is critical to wear your seat belt. Although doing so is the law and for your safety, keep in mind insurance adjusters are constantly looking for ways to blame you for the negligence of others and avoid paying fair value for your personal injury claim.  One way they can do that is to claim a driver contributed to their own harm by not using the safety equipment as required by Virginia law.

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Cell phones

  • Current Virginia Code prohibits both texting and reading emails and text messages while operating motor vehicles. Keep an eye out for the General Assembly to pass more and more stringent phone use legislation.  Stricter legislation was nearly enacted in 2019 and lawmakers are closer than ever to making a stricter standard for phone-use while driving.  Using GPS navigation technology and hands-free technology is currently permitted by law, however anything that takes your eyes off the road endangers everyone on the road.

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  • For the safety of yourself and other drivers, never get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. It endangers you, your passengers, and everyone else on the road.  Even if your driving is technically sound, beware that judges and juries loathe driving under the influence and are unlikely to rule in favor of claims associated with these issues.

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Turn signal

  • Under Virginia Code § 46.2-1039, drivers must signal their intention to turn a vehicle in such a manner as to be  “plainly visible in clear weather and under normal traffic conditions from a distance of at least 100 feet to the rear and 100 feet to the front of the vehicle.”  Have you been tempted to only use your signal as you begin your lane change, or worse, not to use your signal at all?  Resist the urge and make your intentions clear before changing your vehicle’s conduct.

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Knowingly driving defective vehicle

  • If your vehicle fails state inspection or if you know your vehicle’s braking and/or handling is not up to par, beware. Before juries pay and judges rule, they may consider whether driving near your vehicle is safe and if not, you may be to blame you for operating an unsafe vehicle, even if a collision is someone else’s fault.  Keep your car’s maintenance current and in good working order to protect yourself, increase your chances of avoiding accidents, and protecting your case’s value should you be the victim of the negligence of another driver.

Common sense

  • Juries and judges reward blameless Plaintiffs who use good judgment even when those around them do not. Making good driving decisions helps maximize recovery in personal injury lawsuits and helps avoid accidents altogether.



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