Auto Accident Attorney Fairfax
An auto accident attorney in Fairfax, Virginia is probably a bit more busy than attorneys in many other parts of the state because of the level of congestion in this area. Although the roads throughout the Fairfax area tend to be quite good the level of traffic and the speed with which many people travel produce a variety of different types of motor vehicle collisions involving not only automobiles but also bicycles, trucks and pedestrians.
Auto Accident Attorney Addresses Standard of Care
Within any auto collision case it is necessary for the auto accident attorney to prove that there has been some breach of the appropriate standard of care. In most instances that standard of care is established by the rules of the road which are part of the state or county code that govern the operation of traffic. It is those statutes or ordinances that govern the movement of traffic and which, in large measure, govern whether or not one driver is negligent or whether both drivers are negligent.
Virginia being a contributory negligence state if in fact both drivers are negligent and that negligence contributed to the injury of the party bringing the claim then that person’s claim is barred for that reason.
Auto Accident Attorney Addresses Causation
Within the context of any auto accident case it is necessary also to prove causation, i.e. exactly what did the negligence of the other driver cause. That frequently becomes a significant hurdle for many plaintiffs, in particular those who have some pre-existing problem that may have been aggravated by the collision. It then becomes the burden of the plaintiff to show to what extent that pre-existing problem was aggravated or made worse. The logic of that being that the plaintiff cannot recover for the pre-existing problem but can recover to the extent that the pre-existing problem was made worse by the collision.
The issue of causation is further complicated when there have been more than one recent accident producing injury. Some times bad things do come in twos or threes. For instance, over the years I have had multiple clients approach me about cases where they may have had one accident resulting in minor injury and then months later they have another injury producing more significant consequences. The question then becomes how to distinguish one injury from the other. Most physicians are not well equipped or willing to deal with those types of issues since from the medical perspective they are not concerned about the question of what caused the injury. They are concerned about the scope of the injury and how to cure it.
The final element, of course, that any plaintiff must prove in an auto accident case is the actual damages that were incurred. Those damages may come in the form of medical expenses, lost wages or the intangible element of pain and suffering consisting of emotional distress, anguish, humiliation and other such intangible damages. Those intangible damages may be significant and if indeed they are real and the plaintiff has the capability of expressing that to a jury then many local juries will fully and fairly compensate the plaintiff for those damages.
The purpose of the award of damages in an auto accident case is to compensate the injured party for what they have experienced. In the law of torts the purpose is to make that person whole i.e. restore them to their pre-accident condition. Proving those damages is the job of the trial lawyer. They are proved not only through the testimony of the injured party but also through the testimony of the treating doctors who know what the objective signs were of injury and how those injuries were treated. The injuries may also be proven through lay witnesses who know what the collision has caused in terms of impairment to that person’s life and daily activities. The extent of the medical bills and the loss of income are all factors that are to be considered in any award of damages but no mathematical formula can be applied to come up with the value of the case.
In some rare instances an award of punitive damages may be justified. For instance where the at fault motorist had a blood alcohol level of .15 or above at the time of the collision then punitive damages may be claimed and probably awarded. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the at fault motorist. They are distinguished from compensatory damages discussed above which are designed to make the injured person whole i.e. return them to their pre-accident state through an award of money.
Fairfax auto accident attorney Brien Roche has written extensively on this issue of auto accidents and there are numerous other articles within this site dealing with that topic.