In Virginia, if a plaintiff is partially responsible for the accident that caused his or her injury, but the defendant could have avoided the accident by using ordinary care, can the plaintiff still prevail on his or her personal injury claim?

personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach

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

Maybe. 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. As the Virginia Supreme Court has explained, in cases where the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent and their negligence proximately contributed to the accident causing the injury, the negligence of the plaintiff and the defendant is not compared. Instead, any negligence on the part of the plaintiff, which was a proximate cause of the accident, will bar the plaintiff from recovering. Click here to learn more about the contributory negligence doctrine in Virginia.

However, in Virginia, there are certain exceptions to the contributory negligence doctrine, and one such exception is known as the last clear chance doctrine. The two scenarios where last clear chance doctrine may apply to a personal injury case in Virginia are: (1) where the injured plaintiff negligently placed himself or herself in a position of peril from which he or she was physically unable to remove himself or herself (the injured plaintiff in this scenario is known as a helpless plaintiff) or (2) where the injured plaintiff negligently placed himself or herself in a position of peril from which he or she was physically able to remove himself or herself, but the injured plaintiff was unconscious of the peril (the injured plaintiff in this scenario is known as the inattentive plaintiff). In the case of the helpless plaintiff, the last clear chance doctrine requires that the injured plaintiff prove that he or she was physically incapacitated and that the defendant saw or should have seen the helpless plaintiff. In the case of the inattentive plaintiff, the last clear chance doctrine requires that the injured plaintiff prove that the defendant actually saw the inattentive plaintiff. In both the case of the helpless plaintiff and the inattentive plaintiff, the last clear chance doctrine requires the injured plaintiff to also show that the defendant could have avoided the accident by using ordinary care. Finally, the Virginia Supreme Court has written that the last clear chance doctrine only applies if the negligence of the injured plaintiff was remote, meaning that if the opportunity to avoid the accident was as available to the injured plaintiff as to the defendant, then the injured plaintiff’s claim will be barred by the doctrine of contributory negligence.

Questions regarding the application of the contributory negligence doctrine and the last clear chance doctrine 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.  Such experienced personal injury lawyer can assess whether there is a legitimate basis for the defendant to make a contributory negligence defense, and in cases where a contributory negligence defense may be applicable, experienced personal injury lawyers can assess whether there are any exceptions to the contributory negligence doctrine that may apply, such as the last clear chance doctrine, the age of the plaintiff, proximate causation, etc. As in all personal injury cases, experienced personal injury lawyers 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 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.

Personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach serving all of Hampton Roads.

LOCATION & DIRECTIONS