Suffering an injury in a traffic accident can be overwhelming. You may not have ever been in this situation before, which is why it is only normal that you have many questions. It can be exhausting to try and find answers to your questions on the Internet, which is why the accident attorneys of Shevlin Smith have put together key information to help you during this difficult time in your life. Learn what to do and not do after a Virginia personal injury accident.
The end result of a traffic accident can range from minor bumps and bruises to a disabling injury or the untimely death of a loved one. Depending on what kind of crash it was, you can suffer a variety of serious injuries. Crashes involving semi-trucks are often the most serious, due to the size difference between vehicles, while pedestrians and motorcyclists are the least-protected and most vulnerable victims of crashes.
Common Types of Traffic Accidents in VA and D.C.
- Car accidents. Passenger vehicles such as sedans and coupes that can be involved in head-on crashes, rear-end wrecks, or side-impact accidents.
- Truck accidents. When large commercial vehicles collide into smaller passenger cars, the aftermath is more complex than typical auto accidents because there are rules that truck drivers and trucking companies have to follow but often don’t.
- Motorcycle accidents. These types of traffic collisions in Northern Virginia and DC usually occur because drivers of cars and trucks aren’t looking for motorcycles in their side and rearview mirrors before changing lanes or turning.
- Bicycle accidents. Drivers of cars and/or trucks failing to look for cyclists on the road, failing to share the road safely with them, and failing to provide enough room when passing can seriously injure or kill cyclists.
- Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians are hit by motorists who are driving drowsy, distracted, drunk, speeding, or otherwise negligent and fail to see them or yield to them.
- Ridesharing accidents. Passengers or pedestrians hurt by ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft drivers. Liability can be difficult to determine in these types of cases.
Common Causes of Traffic Accidents in VA and D.C.
While there are many causes of traffic collisions, a common factor typically involves driver negligence. Negligence at the wheel can occur in many ways, such as:
- Distracted driving. Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind away from driving is considered distracted driving. Although the most common form of distracted driving is texting while driving, distracted driving can also include talking on a handheld and hands-free cell phone, using the internet, or eating and drinking.
- Drunk driving. Drinking alcohol can impair a driver’s ability to drive safely—often causing a catastrophic crash. Once a driver’s blood alcohol concentration reaches .08 percent in Virginia, a driver is considered to be driving drunk.
- Aggressive and reckless driving. When drivers are tailgating, speeding, or acting dangerously at the wheel, they can lose control or not have time to react to another collision or hazardous condition on the road.
- Drowsy driving. When drivers get behind the wheel tired or continue driving once they feel sleepy, they can cause wrecks that produce traumatic injuries. This is often the case with truck drivers who drive too many hours before resting.
No matter which type of negligent driving behavior causes a crash, the outcome often includes serious injuries and fatalities.
Common Types of Injuries in Traffic Accidents
When drivers participate in such negligent actions and crash into other cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians, the results can be severe and include any of the following serious injuries:
- Head injuries. When motorists hit their heads in traffic accidents, they can often suffer serious brain injuries. Although not all head injuries result in closed-head or open-head traumatic brain injuries, any type of head trauma—even a minor concussion, contusion or hematoma—can be serious.
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis. When someone suffers a blow to one’s spine in a wreck, that person can suffer damage to the spinal cord or to the nerves in the spinal canal. Sadly, a spinal cord injury quite possibly can produce debilitating and permanent results, such as paralysis of the upper body, lower body, or both.
- Whiplash. When you're in an accident external forces can push your head and neck forward and backward, extending the muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. This can be an extremely painful injury. Depending on the amount and direction of the force, the injuries can range to minor to extremely severe.
- Broken bones and fractures. People involved in traffic accidents often suffer broken bones due to the force of a crash. For example, motorcyclists often sustain broken legs and ankles, whereas cyclists often sustain broken collarbones and wrists. The type of broken bone injury in any type of collision is as endless as the number of bones in our bodies.
- Loss of Limbs. Sometimes motor vehicle accidents can result in the traumatic loss of a limb. Whether someone suddenly loses an arm or leg in a crash or has to have the injured limb removed through surgery, amputations can turn a person’s world upside down.
- Serious burn injuries. When a vehicle catches on fire in a crash, the blaze can cause victims to endure first, second, or third degree burns that can lead to years of medical care and procedures such as skin grafting. Often times, a crash victim who suffers a burn injury will have a legal claim against the vehicle manufacturer.
- Wrongful death. When a motor vehicle accident ends in the untimely death of a loved one, surviving family members not only have to grieve emotionally but they have to deal with the financial burden that losing a loved one causes. For this reason, surviving loved ones often need to pursue wrongful death claims in order to secure their family’s financial future.
When victims of collisions suffer any of these serious injuries or lose a loved one due to another driver’s negligent behaviors on the road, it is important that they know about their legal rights, the right steps to take, and the type of compensation they are entitled to. This is why our personal injury lawyers have put together an extensive list of helpful information for crash victims throughout Virginia and DC.
What Victims of Automobile Accidents Need to Know
- What to do and not do after an accident. Sometimes people make critical mistakes following motor vehicle accidents that can lead to reduced financial recoveries because they didn’t realize there are certain things they should avoid doing after a crash.
- What to say and not say to an insurance adjuster. Many people don’t realize that insurance companies are looking for anything to pay people as little money as possible—even using people’s own words against them.
- How a car accident injury claim is valued. The insurance company will look at a variety of factors such as your vehicle damage and type of injury sustained and make an offer. Most initial offers are far less than what they should be and will take an attorney to calculate a better case value based on the extent of your injuries and other losses such as lost income.
- What the statute of limitations are in Virginia and DC. Because the timeframe to file a wrongful death claim or personal injury claim is limited—typically two years—it is important to find out what rules apply in your case so that you don’t miss your opportunity to pursue justice and just compensation.
- What to know about Virginia negligence laws. The law of contributory negligence applies in motor vehicle accidents that take place in Virginia. This means that if you have even one percentage of fault in contributing toward the crash, you cannot collect a financial recovery.
- What damages victims and their families may be entitled to. Most victims of vehicle accidents can recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering as well as future medical care and future lost wages, if applicable. In wrongful death cases, families can also recover funeral expenses, loss of services, and other damages.
- Why crash victims would need an attorney. When crash injuries are serious or there is a loss of life, it is in a victim’s or victim’s family’s best interest to hire an attorney because they will need all the compensation they can get. Personal injury lawyers are trained in negotiating with insurance companies to get victims the maximum compensation possible.
- Why an injury claim would settle or go to trial. Most injury-related accident claims get settled outside of court; however, if the insurance adjuster for the other side isn’t willing to make a fair offer, your attorney should be willing to go all the way to trial to win you the financial recovery you need and deserve.
Our Fairfax Auto Accident Lawyers Have the Experience and Knowledge to Successfully Pursue Difficult Injury Cases
At Shevlin Smith, we have decades of experience representing victims of traffic accidents who have suffered serious injuries or have lost their loved ones as a result of another’s negligence. We know the tactics insurance companies use to pay people as little money as possible, and we know how to negotiate to get our clients fair recoveries. We not only have the knowledge to help victims financially recover after a physical injury, but we are passionate about helping the innocent obtain justice.
We work hard to help our clients get full and fair recoveries, and we aren’t afraid to pursue cases at trial if that’s what it takes to get our clients the compensation they need and deserve. For questions you may have about your injury case or to learn how our Fairfax injury lawyers can help you, give us a call at (703) 591-0067 for a free, no-obligation consultation.