When it comes to determining whether an injured person can pursue a Virginia personal injury claim after an accident, Virginia relies on the doctrine of contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is a harsh rule, that prohibits any injured person from bringing a claim against any other at-fault party, if the accident victim shares any blame for causing the accident. Thus, if a motorist is found to be only five percent at fault for a car accident, they could not file a Virginia car accident lawsuit against the other driver who was 95 percent responsible.
Clearly, the contributory negligence rule can lead to some very unfair results. And despite years of efforts from personal injury attorneys and some politicians, state lawmakers refuse to adjust the doctrine. Notably, Virginia is one of only a few states that still use contributory negligence. Most other states rely on a doctrine called comparative fault, in which an at-fault accident victim can still recover for their injuries, but will only recover a reduced amount. Specifically, the accident victim’s damages award is reduced by their own percentage of fault.
However, there is a very important exception to Virginia’s contributory negligence rule in accidents involving common carriers. A common carrier is an individual or business that transports people for a fee. For example, buses, taxis, and Uber and Lyft drivers are all common carriers.