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Miner Martin & Hahn, PLC
1819 Virginia Avenue
Harrisonburg, VA 22802

Phone: 540-208-1501
Fax: 540-433-1104
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Phone: 540-208-1510
Fax: 540-433-1104
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Harrisonburg Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Car accident claims in Virginia

A car accident can happen at any moment and any time, and as careful as Virginia drivers are, there is nothing we can do to prevent them with absolute certainty. In the event that an unexpected car accident causes injuries to a Virginia driver or passenger, it is important to evaluate the evidence relating to that accident to determine who is at fault. This is the first step in determining whether a particular injured party may have a viable claim for damages.

At Miner Martin & Hahn, we have over 60 years of combined experience pursuing personal injury claims on behalf of car accident victims. We know exactly what to look for to evaluate liability and we aggressively litigate any case we take on to seek appropriate financial restitution for our clients.

Car accident prevention: Stop doing these 2 things

No Harrisonburg, Virginia, resident wants to get into a car accident, but sometimes, his or her driving habits do not reflect this fact. There are a lot of safe driving habits that Virginia drivers can incorporate into their daily lives that can reduce the threat of being in a car accident, but some of them have a greater effect than others. What, then, are the two most important pieces of driving safety advice?

First, you should stop driving after drinking any amount of alcohol. Most people like to enjoy a drink or two at a party, but if you do not make the decision not to drive at the beginning of the night, you might be faced with that decision later on -- after your rational thinking capacity and inhibitions have affected by alcohol. A good rule of thumb is to make the decision now to never drive while buzzed. In other words, do not drive while feeling any effects of alcohol. Not only will this help you avoid an alcohol-related car crash, but it will also prevent you from getting arrested and charged with DUI.

Spinal cord injuries caused by car accidents

Virginia residents who are involved in a car accident are at risk for suffering serious injuries no matter how minor the crash may seem. One of the most severe injuries that could be incurred is one to the spinal cord. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, the victims could lose the ability of using their limbs and the ability to regulate basic functions.

Those who are most at risk for suffering spinal cord injuries include males between the age of 20 to 29 and females between the ages of 15 to 19. Additionally, males older than 70 years and females older than 60 years are also more at risk. Those who suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash are also more likely to die within the first year of the injury than the general population. Mortality rates also remain high throughout the rest of the individual's life as a person with a spinal cord injury is more likely to die prematurely.

2-second rule may be too long

Virginia law prohibits the use of handheld devices for texting while driving. However, that does not mean that everyone complies with the law. Every year, people are killed or injured in car accidents in which the driver was distracted by texting.

A recent study by the insurance industry notes that a two-second glance away from the road, or the average amount of time it takes to read a text message, could result in a serious accident. During the two seconds the driver's attention is diverted, a car traveling at 70 miles per hour moves about 200 feet, or more than half the length of a football field. During that time, drivers would have no opportunity to react to any sudden change in road conditions, such as a car pulling out of a driveway or running a stop sign.

Multiple passenger vans linked to accidents

Virginia residents may have heard about issues transportation authorities have with 15-passenger vans. The vans have been criticized over a lack of safety and structural issues that may be behind the incidence of fatal accidents associated with the vans.

According to safety experts, the vans are structurally challenged due to their build. The vehicles share a taller and wider build that makes it harder to control. The vans, which carry up to 15 passengers, have a higher frequency of fatal accidents. Passenger seats may lack seat belts, and the seats may be structurally unsound. In addition, critics contend the vans are at a higher rollover risk, particularly when the number of passengers exceeds the recommended capacity.

Reckless Driving in Virginia

Virginia Code Ann. §46.2-862 is a reckless-driving law that allows as court to impose a sentence of up to twelve (12) months in jail; to suspend driving privileges for up to six (6) months; and a fine of up to $2,500. A conviction for reckless driving is a Class One (1) misdemeanor which is just one level below a felony.

While the potential punishment appears to be unduly burdensome it would come as a surprise to many drivers that reckless driving under the aforementioned statute is defined as driving in excess of 80 miles per hour on an interstate highway. Therefore, driving 81 miles per hour in a seventy mile per hour zone could result in a conviction under this statute.

Compensation for Virginia drivers with serious jaw injury

Because car accidents often result in traumatic injury, they are one of the most common sources of jaw dislocation or fracture for Virginia drivers to be aware of. These injuries can range from mild to severe and may cause a wide range of complications. Serious jaw injuries can result in lost time at work and often require surgical intervention to correct.

A jaw fracture is defined as any break in the bone of the jaw. A dislocated jaw happens when the jaw is dislodged from one or both connecting joints. These joints keep the jaw fastened to the skull, so when dislocation occurs, the teeth and jaw bone become misaligned. Not only can such conditions cause discomfort, but they often lead to chronic pain as well.

Comparative negligence versus contributory negligence

When a person suffers injuries and other damages in a car accident, they may wish to seek compensation by filing a lawsuit against the other driver. However, the state where the crash occurred may determine just how much in compensation they are legally allowed to seek. In certain states, for example, a driver may not seek any compensation if they contributed to the crash. In other states, they may only seek a certain amount of compensation based on their liability.

Most states adhere to the theory of comparative negligence. When a car accident occurs, it is determined how much at fault each driver is for causing the crash. The percentage of contribution is deducted from the amount of compensation that a person may receive. For example, if one driver's negligence contributed to the crash by 40 percent and the person is seeking $50,000 in damages, they may be awarded $30,000.

Drowsy driving and the risk of accidents

While many factors can contribute to accidents in Virginia, one of the more common driving behaviors can cause accidents that are especially catastrophic. Drowsy driving, which is when drivers continue to drive despite feeling fatigued, may result in serious injuries or death of both the fatigued driver as well as others who are on the road.

Drowsy driving accidents may be especially severe as they are more likely to occur on long stretches of highway that have higher speed limits. People who fail to pull off the road may have slowed reaction times. They may also fail to avoid collisions all together in the event they drift off to sleep.

Study shows that teens change clothes, do homework while driving

According to a new study published in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security, 27 percent of teenagers sometimes change clothes and partake in other distractions while driving. Teens also reported doing homework, applying makeup and putting in contact lenses. Virginia teenagers and adults alike should take care not to drive while their attention is divided; distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents among drivers of all ages.

Although distracted driving is still a widespread issue, awareness campaigns seem to be effective. The leader of the study noted that around 40 percent of the teens surveyed reported texting while driving, which is an improvement over earlier studies.