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Getting injury compensation becomes more complicated when the other driver commits crimes. The evidence in the criminal case can prove crucial in the civil trial, and could have a huge effect on your potential damages. 

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident in Virginia, and the other driver committed a crime while doing it, you may wish to speak with a Richmond criminal traffic attorney to learn if you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

A man drinking and driving

A man drinking and driving. If you were hurt by someone committing an illegal act, you need a Richmond criminal traffic lawyer to fight for you.

Distracted Driving

Heightened penalties and increased law enforcement officer presence in Virginia has helped decrease the number of accidents that plague the roadways throughout the state. However, unfortunately, distracted driving is still on the rise 

Distracted driving in itself only gets you a small fine under Virginia law, but if someone causes an injury or a fatality due to distracted driving, that’s when the penalties start rising. A distracted driving charge that sticks is a sure sign of negligence.

Negligence is one of the key ideas in any personal injury lawsuit. Your Richmond criminal traffic lawyer will use a distracted driving conviction along with other pieces of evidence to prove you deserve compensation.

Car Accident Damages in Criminal Cases

The Richmond car accident lawyers at Pendleton Law understand that the last thing most people think about is the cost of everything. However, this should remain at the forefront of your mind, especially as insurance agents begin to contact you attempting to settle any future claims.

As a victim of a car accident in Richmond, you are entitled to bring a claim for the injuries you suffered in the accident and the resulting costs, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

In a criminal suit, it can be much easier to ask for non-economic and punitive damages due to the negligence necessary to get a criminal charge after an accident. An experienced Richmond accident lawyer will assist you in developing your claim for damages.

Delays in Your Case

If you sue for damages against someone facing criminal charges related to the same matter, the courts have to decide whether to stay your case or offer a continuance. If they stay your case, you will have to wait until the criminal case is complete before you can go to trial.

In some ways, this is bad because you may have to wait a long time before you go to court. However, the criminal case can expose evidence and testimony that will make your civil case go far faster.

If there is a stay in your case, your lawyer can assist you in filing claims against the other party’s insurance company while you wait for the criminal trial to finish. 

After Your Accident

If you’re reading this, you are probably already facing the aftermath of an accident. Virginia driving rules teach you basic things to do after an accident like trading information and talking to the police. Here are the things they don’t tell you that can help your case.

Don’t Admit Fault

Some people want to smooth things over quickly after an accident and say that an accident was their fault or that they’re partially to blame. This will tank your chances of receiving compensation.

There’s nothing wrong with being helpful and civil, but under no circumstances should you discuss who’s responsible. Anything you say here might be fodder for the other party to use in a personal injury case against you.

Do Not Accept Immediate Compensation

Sometimes a driver might offer you some money to make up for the accident. If you take that money, or even imply such an offer could be accepted, the insurance company could say that you’ve already accepted compensation.

It’s the same tactic that insurance companies use when they offer you a quick settlement that’s far less than what you should get. Never accept money from the other driver, nor an insurance offer, without speaking with one of our criminal traffic lawyers in Richmond.

Get a Checkup and Preserve All Receipts

Get yourself checked up by a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Injuries are sometimes not immediately apparent, especially following an accident. You can feel fine now and be bedridden a week later.

Be sure to keep all the receipts of any payments you make for your checkup, like doctor’s bills or medications. Get a copy of their diagnosis as well. This is extremely valuable evidence for securing compensation.

Contact the Other Insurance Company

The other driver may not contact their insurance company right away to report an accident, especially if there were criminal charges involved. If they do not give you the insurance information, you can have a lawyer get it for you.

When you talk with them, stick with the facts and do not make any speculations about fault. Just tell your side of the story and then let your lawyer handle the rest. The purpose is only to let them know their policy holder just made a big mistake.

Don’t Repair Your Car Right Away

This may seem strange, but most insurance companies will insist that you get authorization from them before repairing a vehicle in an accident. If you repair your car without their permission, they could say that certain repairs weren’t part of the accident and deny you money.

Remember that insurance companies do not get to decide where you get your car fixed. They may require that you get quotes from a couple of shops, but the choice is ultimately yours. It’s a hassle, but following the rules here can help you later.

It’s also possible for insurers to drag out the process to avoid settlement. If you feel that this is happening, cite Virginia’s Unfair Claim Settlement Practices to push for timely payment. If you’ve hired a Richmond criminal accident attorney through us, we can do this for you.

Be Proactive in Pursuing Payment 

While you’re waiting on the criminal case to finish, you still need to get care and pay for things. 

Insurance companies will sometimes “sit” on a case if not pressed to deliver payment for damages. 

You’re entitled to have your prescriptions, rehab treatments, and potential surgeries covered and a lawyer can be your aid in seeking full compensation. Do not sign any forms given to you by the guilty driver’s insurer until they have been reviewed by your lawyer. 

Get Representation

As you can see, it’s not very difficult to follow basic common-sense rules. However, the most important rule is to get representation. Every case may have a quirk that requires the help of a lawyer to ensure it comes out in your favor.

Don’t hesitate to obtain professional legal representation from an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer because if it comes to litigation, the other party will almost certainly have their own. The sooner you can get help the better. 

Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Virginia

Virginia, like all states, has laws known as “statutes of limitations” which limit the time you have to file a lawsuit. Virginia Code section 8.01-243 states that the limit to file an injury claim following an accident is two years and the “clock” starts running from the date of the accident, not when the injury was first discovered. 

One situation in which the two-year statute of limitations will not apply is if you get into a car accident with a government employee. In these situations, your chance for receiving compensation will be determined by the time limits set forth by the government.

These limitations only apply to the deadline for filing a claim in court; the process and deadlines for filing a claim with an insurance company may very well differ. It is important to file your insurance claim as soon as possible following a car accident so you stay within the limit. 

Car Accident Statistics in Virginia

In 2014, approximately 120,000 car accidents were reported throughout the state in Virginia. Out of this number, approximately 60,000 people were injured during the accidents, and 700 people were killed as a result of the accident. 

While these numbers seem staggering, they have historically been lower than the national average and represent an ongoing trend of decreasing accident rates which began in 2012. This could be due to a number of factors.

Fatality Rates: National vs Virginia (2006-2015)

In 2013, Virginia passed a texting-while-driving law which increased the penalty for drivers who were pulled over for driving with a cell phone in hand to $125 (from $20). This law, along with more vigilant police forces, has contributed to lowering the accident rate throughout the state.

Cities and counties in Virginia have also implemented various “no refusal weekends” on certain holiday weekends, which do not allow suspected drunk drivers to refuse a chemical test when they are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. 

During these weekends, magistrates are on call to sign the required warrants. These no-refusal weekends have helped curb the number of drunk driving accidents on the requisite weekends.

Consult a Richmond Criminal Traffic Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Virginia, contact the lawyers at Pendleton Law. Our injury attorneys have years of experience in assisting our clients with their car accident claims. 

We will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We focus on your accident claim from the onset so you can focus on your recovery. Contact our Richmond, VA office today for your free consultation.