What If I Was Partially at Fault for My Accident?

Apr 6, 2021 | Personal Injury

Until it’s them or their loved ones involved in the accident, most people don’t consider how state laws and regulations affect their pursuit of financial recovery. After all, what the average American knows about personal injury claims and lawsuits usually stems from high-profile cases that may involve a celebrity or commercial conglomerate. It’s perfectly normal to wonder—and to not know, for that matter—whether your own contributions to your injury will prevent you from a successful personal injury case. To start, let’s jump right into Virginia negligence laws and how they can impact personal injury claims.

Virginia Negligence Law

Unless the injury occurred to a railroad employee or another party falling under Virginia’s civil remedy titles, individuals who are partially at fault for their own injuries are not likely to recover financial compensation per Virginia law if they contributed to their injuries.

However, it’s very important to note that while you may believe you are partially responsible for your injuries, the evidence may say otherwise. Some individuals spend months—if not years—after a traumatic accident playing the event over in their minds, wondering “if only I had just done X or Y, I would have my health.” But the simple fact is that these cases are complex and how an insurer or civil court sees the event is not always how the injured party sees it.

To understand the full scope of negligence in a personal injury case, and consequently better understanding whether you yourself had a hand in your injury, you can schedule a free case consultation with an experienced attorney.

What Exactly Is Negligence?

You have a role. Whether you’re a worker, a physician, a parent, or the driver of a motor vehicle, you adhere to a set of—sometimes unspoken—standards for what it means to be a reasonable participant in that role. Negligence occurs when you fail to reasonably perform your duties in that role. Negligence, as it relates to personal injury cases, involves something called “duty of care.”

That is, when you drive your vehicle, it is expected that you abide by the laws of the road. In abiding by these laws, you’re upholding your duty in caring for yourself, your passengers, and those in other vehicles.

In legal terms, when you fail to meet your “duty of care,” your duty of care has become “breached.” In successful personal injury cases, lawyers will seek to prove that the defendant—who must compensate the injured if the case is successful—breached their duty of care and that this breached duty directly led to the plaintiff’s injuries.

So, to recap, parties who are at-fault in an accident:

  • Held a duty of care
  • Breached their duty of care
  • Their actions (or inaction) directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries

Also note, it is the plaintiff and their attorney’s responsibility to prove that the damages claimed in the personal injury case be directly connected to the event in question. For example, you were to claim a bill for physical therapy, you will have to prove that the physical therapy is for the injuries sustained in the accident. 

Pure Contributory Negligence

Virginia is an outlier in the United States in that it recognizes the pure contributory negligence rule. This rule states that individuals or groups found partially at fault for their injuries may not recover financial compensation for their related losses.

Connect with Geoff McDonald & Associates for a Free Consultation

Unsure whether you have a personal injury case? There’s no harm in reaching out! Our attorneys have decades of combined experience in and out of the personal injury courtroom. We also review a wide range of personal injury case types and we serve Virginians from throughout the state. You can call our office in Richmond or contact us online to get started. 


Geoff McDonald and Associates: 804-888-8888.


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