In Virginia, if a vehicle is unlawfully stopped in the roadway, can a person injured in a car accident with that unlawfully stopped vehicle always make a successful claim for personal injuries?

Personal Injury Attorney- Auto Accidents

The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Virginia law prohibits a vehicle from stopping in the roadway in a way that impedes or renders dangerous the use of the roadway by others, except in the case of an emergency, an accident, or a mechanical breakdown. According to the Virginia Code:

No person shall stop a vehicle in such manner as to impede or render dangerous the use of the highway by others, except in the case of an emergency, an accident, or a mechanical breakdown. In the event of such an emergency, accident, or breakdown, the emergency flashing lights of such vehicle shall be turned on if the vehicle is equipped with such lights and such lights are in working order. If the driver is capable of safely doing so and the vehicle is movable, the driver may move the vehicle from the roadway to prevent obstructing the regular flow of traffic; provided, however, that the movement of the vehicle to prevent the obstruction of traffic shall not relieve the law-enforcement officer of his duty pursuant to § 46.2-373. A report of the vehicle’s location shall be made to the nearest law-enforcement officer as soon as practicable, and the vehicle shall be moved from the roadway to the shoulder as soon as possible and removed from the shoulder without unnecessary delay. If the vehicle is not promptly removed, such removal may be ordered by a law-enforcement officer at the expense of the owner if the disabled vehicle creates a traffic hazard.

However, even if a vehicle is stopped in the roadway in violation of the above referenced statute, a person injured in an car accident with that stopped vehicle might fail in his or her claim for personal injuries against the driver of the stopped vehicle. Virginia applies the doctrine of contributory negligence, which the Virginia Supreme Court defines as the objective standard of whether a plaintiff failed to act as a reasonable person would have acted for his or her own safety under the circumstances. For a discussion on the application of the contributory negligence doctrine in Virginia, click here. If the hypothetical injured person was driving a car that rear-ended a vehicle unlawfully stopped on the highway, it is possible that the injured person’s personal injury claim against the driver of the stopped vehicle could fail, if the injured person is found to be contributorily negligent. When deciding if the injured person’s conduct amounted to contributory negligence, the judge or jury hearing the injured person’s case would have to consider, amongst other things, whether the injured person was operating his or her vehicle at an appropriate speed, whether the injured person was maintaining a proper following distance, and whether the injured person was maintaining a proper lookout, which means the use of ordinary care to look in all directions for vehicles, persons, and conditions that would affect his or her driving, to see what a reasonable person would see, and to react as a reasonable person would to avoid a collision. If the judge or jury hearing the injured person’s personal injury case determines that the injured person failed to operate his or her vehicle with the requisite degree of care prescribed by law, then the injured person would be deemed to have been contributorily negligent, and he or she would be barred from recovery.

Questions regarding unlawful stopping on a roadway and contributory negligence are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to call our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  We can assess whether the vehicle in question was lawfully stopped in the roadway and whether there is a legitimate basis for the driver of the stopped vehicle to raise a contributory negligence defense. In cases where a contributory negligence defense may be applicable, our personal injury lawyer can assess whether there are any exceptions to the contributory negligence doctrine that may apply. As in all personal injury cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can also advise the injured person as to the value of the injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making a claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

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