Accident Defenses-Contributory Negligence
In Virginia, unlike most other states, we still follow the rule of contributory negligence. This rule states that if the plaintiff (injured person) is found to be at fault AT ALL for the accident, then the plaintiff recovers nothing. So if a jury were to decide that the injured person was 1% at fault for an accident, then the jury would be duty bound under the law to rule in favor of the defendant, the person who caused the accident.
This rule has an impact on cases long before trial however. Many recorded statements are taken with the goal of having the injured person admit to something that can be argued is negligent. Contributory negligence can impact even cases where there is little doubt who caused an accident or an injury. For example, if a driver begins to cross an intersection on a green light after having been stopped at a red light, the defense lawyer/insurance adjuster will ask if the driver looked before starting to see if other cars were stopped at their red lights. Slip and fall cases are even more problematic. Often, the evidence needed to prove negligence on the part of the property owner is turned around and used to prove negligence on part of the injured party.
Posted by Turbitt, O'Herron & Leach, PLLC