In Virginia, can a driver be considered negligent for operating his or her vehicle too slowly?

Person driving too slow caused accident Virgnia Beach

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

Yes. According to the Virginia Code, “no person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.” If a driver fails to perform his or her duty not to operate his or her vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law, then that driver is considered to be negligent.

However, even if it is determined that a driver operated his or her vehicle at a slow speed so as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic in violation of the Virginia Code, that driver might not be held liable for injuries sustained by a person involved in an car accident with the driver of the slow moving vehicle. A person making an injury claim against the driver of a slow moving vehicle must prove that the slow moving driver’s negligence was a proximate cause of the injured person’s injuries. The Virginia Supreme Court defines proximate cause as an “act or omission which, in the natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the event, and without which the event would not have occurred.” Additionally, the injured person must be free 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. Click here for a discussion of the contributory negligence doctrine in Virginia.

By way of example, if a driver was operating his or her vehicle very slowly on an interstate highway in Virginia with a speed limit of 55 mph and a person rear-ended that slow moving vehicle, resulting in injury to the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended the slow moving vehicle, the injured person could establish as a matter of law that the slow moving driver was negligent, but it is possible that the injured driver could be barred from recovery against the slow moving driver because the injured driver failed to establish proximate causation and/or because the injured driver was contributorily negligent. In this hypothetical scenario, the jury hearing the case may conclude, amongst other things, that the slow moving vehicle was clearly there to be seen by any careful driver using the highway on the day of the accident and that the accident occurred due to the injured driver’s failure to maintain a proper lookout, which is defined as the duty to use ordinary care to look in all directions for cars and other conditions in the roadway, to see what a reasonable person would see, and to react as a reasonable person would act to avoid a collision. A jury arriving at such a conclusion would return a verdict in favor of the driver of the slow moving vehicle, meaning the injured person would recover nothing for his or her injuries.

Questions regarding the duty of a driver to maintain a proper speed and the doctrine of contributory negligence are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact one of our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  We can assess whether a driver’s speed constitutes negligence that proximately caused the accident in question and whether the injured person satisfied his or her duties to maintain a proper lookout, to exercise ordinary care to avoid a collision, to maintain a proper speed and following distance, etc. In cases where a contributory negligence defense may be applicable, the experienced personal injury lawyer can assess whether the injured driver’s conduct constituted contributory negligence and 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 personal injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making an injury 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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