Portsmouth Car Accident Lawyers
Portsmouth, Virginia is home to roughly 93,350 residents, and is a popular travel destination for its bustling seaport, quirky shops, and locally owned restaurants. History buffs flock to Olde Towne Portsmouth to walk the streets of one of America’s most charming and historic neighborhoods. Since Portsmouth boasts a wide range of attractions and a rich history, the roadways in and around the city can become very busy with commuters as well as travelers who may be unfamiliar with the area, which can increase the risk of serious car accidents. If you are involved in a car accident, this can be an extremely stressful and overwhelming experience, particularly if you or another passenger in your vehicle suffered a serious injury. A Portsmouth car accident lawyer will address all your questions and concerns and assist you with every step of the claims process.
What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents?
There are many types of car accidents, ranging from minor fender benders to devastating head-on collisions that involve multiple vehicles. The more serious the accident, the more severe the injuries are likely to be. The following are examples of some of the most common types of car accidents:
- Rear-end collisions: These are some of the most common car accidents that occur when one motorist crashes into the rear of another driver’s vehicle. In some cases, they can result in multi-vehicle accidents if three or more vehicles crash into each other. Rear-end collisions often occur when a motorist is following too closely behind the vehicle that they are following.
- Side-impact collisions: This type of accident occurs when a vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, often at a busy intersection. These are also known as “T-bone accidents,” and can be extremely serious, and even fatal if the vehicle that strikes the side of the car is traveling at a high speed.
- Rollover accidents: This is another example of a very serious car accident that can result in life-threatening, and even fatal injuries. They often occur when the vehicle approaches a turn, or a sharp curve in the road at a speed that is too fast for the road condition. SUVs, large pickup trucks, and other vehicles that have a high center of gravity are more likely to be involved in rollover accidents.
- Head-on collisions: These are devastating accidents that occur when two vehicles are traveling in the wrong direction and crash into each other, often at a high speed. If the occupants of the vehicles survive the crash, it is likely that they will suffer extremely serious injuries.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents?
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 95 percent of all car accidents are caused by another driver’s negligence. That means that many car accidents can be prevented if motorists follow the rules of the road and avoid any unsafe or irresponsible driving behavior. The following are examples of the most common causes of car accidents:
- Distracted driving: Unfortunately, this remains one of the most common causes of car accidents in Virginia and across the country. The main culprit is talking and texting on the phone while driving, which takes motorist’s attention off the road. Other common distractions include eating and drinking, reaching for something in the back seat, interacting with other passengers, adjusting the radio, setting up the navigation system, or adjusting the temperature.
- Drunk driving: Even though drunk driving is illegal; people continue to get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol. Alcohol causes a range of impairments, including decreased coordination and slower reaction times. In addition, people who are under the influence of alcohol are more likely to drive too fast, which can increase the severity of an accident.
- Drowsy driving: While people do not generally consider this to be as serious as drunk driving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a lack of sleep can cause the same impairments as consuming alcohol. For example, being awake for 24 consecutive hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10 percent, which is higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Long-haul truck drivers are known for drowsy driving.
- Speeding: The faster a motorist is traveling, the more difficult it is to maintain control of the vehicle if something goes wrong. The injuries and property damage that occur are often much more severe in a speeding-related accident.
- Reckless driving: This occurs when motorists drive too fast, change lanes without signaling, tailgate, ignore stop signs, and engage in other unsafe driving behavior that does not consider the safety of other motorists on the road.
- Aggressive driving/road rage: When one motorist directs their uncontrolled anger towards another driver, the situation can escalate to ‘deadly’ quickly. Examples of road rage include verbal insults, rude hand gestures, dangerous driving behavior that targets another driver, and physical threats. If the situation gets out of control, it can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
- Defective vehicles: While relatively rare, these accidents are caused by faulty brakes, tire blowouts, steering malfunctions, and other defects.
What Types of Injuries Do Car Accidents Cause?
While you may walk away from a minor fender bender without a scratch, car accidents can cause a range of injuries from cuts and scrapes to severe, life-threatening injuries and fatalities. The following are examples of common injuries that victims of car accidents may suffer:
- Whiplash: This occurs when the force of the impact causes a forceful and sudden movement of the head. If the injury is not treated properly, it can cause lingering pain and discomfort.
- Soft tissue injuries: These include damage to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. These injuries can be very painful, possibly requiring surgery and physical therapy.
- Broken bones: The impact of a car accident can cause vehicle occupants to suffer broken bones, including collar bones, ribs, arms, legs, and fingers. These injuries are often painful and may cause more serious complications. For example, if a broken rib punctured the lung, this is a potentially life-threatening injury that will require immediate medical attention.
- Nerve damage: The most common symptoms of nerve damage are a tingling sensation, numbness, muscle weakness or shooting pain. This usually occurs in and around the spine, and in the arms and legs.
- Head injuries: If the head strikes the windshield, side window, or some other hard object from the force of the impact, this can cause a concussion. In more severe cases, the motorist can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Symptoms of a severe TBI include loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, seizures, confusion, loss of coordination, behavior changes, and coma.
- Spinal cord injuries: This is a serious injury that can cause a partial or total loss of sensation and mobility. Paraplegia is the loss of sensation in both legs. Quadriplegia is the loss of sensation in both legs, both arms and parts of the chest, abdomen, and back.
- Internal organ damage: In some cases, the impact of the accident can cause damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, and other organs. These injuries do not always present with immediate symptoms, which is one reason why it is so important to seek medical attention immediately following a serious car accident.
- Ruptured bowels: If the bowels are damaged in a car accident, it can cause a perforation, which allows waste and biles to leak into the body. This leakage is poisonous, and potentially deadly if it is not treated properly.
What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?
Getting into a car accident is a shocking and stressful experience. However, if you know the steps to take immediately following the accident, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you recover the financial compensation you deserve.
- Call 911. If you are physically able to do so, call 911 and report the accident. Dispatch will send a police officer to the accident scene as well as an ambulance if there are injuries involved. The responding officer will fill out a police report, which will describe the details of the accident, including who was at fault. Make sure that you obtain a copy of the police report as this can be used as evidence if you file a personal injury claim.
- Collect evidence. If you can move safely, take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to your vehicle, your injuries, skid marks on the road, and any other physical evidence that will help your case.
- Exchange information. Exchange contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate information, and insurance information with the other driver. Do not apologize for anything, even if you are just trying to be nice. This can be used against you by the other driver’s insurance company and may ultimately have a negative impact on your claim.
- Talk to witnesses. If there were witnesses in the vicinity, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement and get their contact information.
- Notify your insurance company. Let your insurance company know that you were involved in a car accident. Keep in mind, however, that insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they will look for reasons to avoid a costly settlement. Provide only the necessary information and avoid posting information about the accident on social media.
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer. A skilled car accident lawyer will protect your legal rights and assist you with every step of the claims process. They will anticipate the tactics that insurance companies use and negotiate the best possible settlement offer.
How Much Insurance Am I Required to Carry?
Unlike other states, motorists in Virginia are not required to carry liability insurance, provided they pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee. Once that fee has been paid, you are legally allowed to drive without insurance. However, if you are involved in a car accident, you are liable for any damages if you were responsible for causing the accident. Depending on the nature and severity of the accident, this could cost you thousands of dollars.
If you choose to purchase traditional liability insurance, this will cover any property damage and medical bills associated with the accident. If you are responsible for causing the accident, your liability insurance will also cover the other drivers, passengers and pedestrians who suffered injuries in the car accident. You can purchase any of the following coverage amounts:
- $20,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
What Damages Am I Entitled to If I Am Injured in a Car Accident?
Virginia is a pure contributory negligence state, which means that a motorist will not be eligible for damages if they are even one percent at fault for causing the accident. If you are injured in a car accident, and can prove that the other driver was at fault, you may be eligible for the following damages:
- All medical expenses associated with the accident, including ambulance services, hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, follow-up doctor’s appointments and prescription medications.
- Lost wages if you are unable to return to work for an extended period.
- Pain and suffering, which is the compensation that is meant to make up for the injury.