When another party’s negligence or mistakes causes you to suffer an injury, you might understandably want to start a personal injury claim against them right away. But before you dive head-first into the legal pathways of an injury claim or lawsuit, you should know that Virginia’s pure contributory negligence law might try to stop you at step one and make receiving an insurance payout more difficult.

Virginia is one of only a handful of states that use pure contributory negligence when determining fair compensation for personal injury claims. Under this rule, a claimant or plaintiff cannot collect a penny from any other parties if they are even just 1% at-fault for their accident. One of the few exceptions is if you are hurt by a commercial vehicle or a “common carrier.”


Pure contributory negligence law has been touted as a way to keep frivolous lawsuits out of courts and ensure that insurance companies aren’t being gouged left-and-right by claimants. However, the strictness of pure contributory negligence can seemingly stack the legal deck against a claimant desperately in need of compensation after a bad accident. Some view this liability rule as a way to equally punish all parties in an accident, even though they did not all equally contribute to it.

For example: You are driving along the highway and about to change lanes when a drunk driver sideswipes you, throwing you into the median and causing serious injuries. Crash investigations show that the drunk driver was also going 120 miles per hour, which is egregiously over the speed limit. However, the drunk driver’s dashcam footage shows you did not glance over your shoulder to check your blind spot before trying to change lanes. You are deemed 5% liable for the accident that has cost you thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. As such, you cannot collect anything from the drunk driver’s insurance company beyond any coverage amounts already provided.


After a car accident or any other incident that leaves you wrongfully injured, it is a smart move to get a personal injury attorney on your side. In Virginia, it is even more crucial than elsewhere due to the state’s pure contributory negligence rule. With a lawyer representing you and lending their experience and insight to your case, you will be better equipped to prove that you were 0% liable for your accident and, therefore, are owed 100% of your damages.

Don’t take an unnecessary risk by trying to handle your injury claim in Virginia alone. Call (757) 599-6050 and team up with Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, P.L.L.C. Initial consultations are free, so reach out to us at any time.


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