While Virginia has seen some unseasonable snow headed into spring this year, safety advocates are reminding motorists that the spring and summer travel season is just around the corner.
The National Safety Council reports motor vehicle fatalities topped 40,000 in 2017 for the second year in a row. Road deaths have increased six percent as the economy has recovered over the last two years. More than 4.5 million motorists were injured seriously enough to require medical attention following a car accident last year.
"This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us," NSC CEO Deborah Hersman said.
Safety Focus Reduces Accident Risks in Roanoke
Teen drivers are among those at highest risk, as spring break is quickly followed by spring graduation and summer break. Virginia is home to many universities and young motorists traveling long distances to and from school.
NSC reports a focus on safety basics that can go a long way:
- Drive defensively and wear your seat belt.
- Avoid fatigue and distraction, both of which disproportionately impact younger drivers.
- Don't drink and drive. Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including the use of marijuana, opioids or other prescription medication.
- Have your vehicle properly serviced and ensure it's in proper mechanical condition.
Preliminary statistics for 2017 show at least 815 motorists were killed in fatal traffic accidents in Virginia last year. While most traffic accidents occurred in urban areas of Maryland, that was not true in Virginia, where most collisions occurred on rural roads. Authorities report that the top cause of traffic accidents on rural roads in Virginia was driving too fast for road conditions.
Liability for Car Accidents in Virginia
A claim for damages will require you to prove liability on the part of an at-fault driver. Typically these cases will be defended by a driver's auto insurance company, which should be required to pay for any resulting property damage or injury to accident victims. Virginia law requires motorists to carry a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage per person, per accident, and a minimum of $50,000 for total injuries per accident.
Additionally, Virginia's auto insurance law requires uninsured motorist(UM)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage at the same limits. This is vital coverage that will provide accident victims a means of recovery in the event of a crash with a motorist who does not have insurance, or whose insurance coverage is inadequate to cover the full extent of a victim's losses.
Virginia's pure contributory negligence law (Va. Code §8.01-34) makes it more difficult to collect damages following a motor vehicle collision. This means that accident victims may not recover damages if they are found to have contributed to an accident, unlike in many states where a claim is still possible as long as the plaintiff was less than 50 percent at fault.
Thus, Virginia law makes it even more important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible following a serious or fatal collision. Evidence collected, including statements made to your own or an opposing insurance company, may prevent you from making a proper recovery for damages, including property damage, lost wages and medical bills.