Yes, absolutely. Even if someone has not been charged by the police with committing a traffic offense or criminal offense (like drunk driving, speeding, or reckless driving) they can still be held liable for your injuries in Virginia. Civil negligence law (which is how a car accident is pursued on your behalf) and criminal/traffic law are two separate areas of law. A person can avoid being charged with a crime or traffic infraction (or end up being charged, but be found “not guilty” by a judge) and still be held liable in a civil negligence case. To prove a civil negligence claim 4 things must be proven by your Northern Virginia Car Accident Lawyer:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care – generally all drivers owe other drivers the duty to drive safely and obey traffic laws. However, the duty owed in any given case is the degree to which a reasonable person should have been watchful and cautions in the specific set of circumstances in your case.
- The driver breached this duty – by not driving as a reasonable person would have under the specific circumstances at issue.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries – the accident must be the direct cause of your injuries.
- You suffered damages – you must have suffered some level of damages as a result of the injuries.
These 4 elements can be established even if the other driver did not get charged with violating the law. However, if the other driver did get charged and pleads “guilty” in traffic court, it can relieve you of having to prove certain aspects of your case. Also, if the other driver violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation, even if he or she was not charged for it, it can constitute something called negligence per se. This legal principle applies if: (i) you are a member of a class of people the statute, ordinance, or administrative regulation is intended to protect and (ii) the harm that occurred was the same type of harm which the statute, ordinance, or administrative regulation was designed to protect against. With negligence per se, the standard of care is determined by the statute or ordinance. Unlike ordinary negligence, a person claiming negligence per se need not prove that a reasonable person should have acted differently than the other driver did. The conduct is automatically considered negligent.
Let a Fairfax Car Accident Lawyer help you with these issues. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
To speak with a Virginia personal injury & accident lawyer about your case and how to recover compensation in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia, contact Manikas Law LLC by calling 703-556-0004, or use the “Contact Us” box at the bottom of this page to tell us about your case.