Improper Driving in VA
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Improper Driving in VA
Improper driving is a traffic violation that is taken very seriously in the state of Virginia. In fact, it is one of the many causes of traffic accidents throughout the state. So, if you or your beloved has been injured in an accident caused by improper driving, you may have many questions.
The good news is that you've come to the right place if you’re looking for answers and solutions. At Morgan & Morgan, we understand your pain. That's what inspires our attorneys to fight for the rights of the injured. We also understand Virginia's complex laws surrounding improper driving, and the many loopholes the defendant could take advantage of to avoid liability for their negligence.
Here, you will learn everything you need to know about improper driving in this state, including your legal options if you're a victim.
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What Is Considered Improper Driving in Virginia?
In Virginia, improper driving refers to a traffic violation that occurs when a driver operates a vehicle in a manner that endangers another person's life, limb, or property. This traffic violation includes a wide range of actions, as discussed below.
What Are Some Examples of Improper Driving in Virginia?
Here are some common examples of improper driving in Virginia:
Tailgating is one of the most common examples, which is when a driver follows the vehicle in front of them too closely. As a result, the tailgating driver may not have enough time to stop if the leading vehicle suddenly brakes.
Failing to yield to pedestrians or other vehicles at intersections, crosswalks, or other designated areas is also a form of reckless driving in Virginia.
Another example is when a driver changes lanes or turns without using their turn signal to indicate their intentions.
You expect drivers to be particularly careful when driving in bad weather conditions. But that is not always the case; some drivers drive recklessly regardless of weather conditions. For instance, exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for the current weather, road, or traffic conditions is considered a form of improper driving in Virginia.
Lastly, when a driver crosses over into the opposite lane of traffic or drives on the wrong side of the road, engages in activities such as texting, talking on the phone, or eating while driving, all these actions amount to improper driving.
Is Improper Driving the Same as Reckless Driving in Virginia?
No, improper driving and reckless driving are two different concepts in Virginia, although some people tend to use them interchangeably. One major similarity between these two is that both are considered traffic violations in this state.
That said, reckless driving is a more serious offense because it involves driving in a manner that shows a disregard for the safety of others. On the other hand, improper driving is a less serious traffic infraction that usually results in a fine and points on the driver's record.
Overall, while both improper and reckless driving are traffic violations, the main difference is that reckless driving is a more severe offense that carries harsher penalties than the latter.
What Are the Penalties for Improper Driving in Virginia?
The penalties for improper driving in Virginia include a fine of up to $500 and three demerit points on your driving record. Additionally, depending on the circumstances of your case, the court may order you to attend a driver improvement clinic.
If you accumulate too many demerit points on your driving record, you may be subject to additional penalties, such as higher fines, license suspension, or revocation. For example, according to Virginia law, if you accumulate 12 demerit points within 12 months or 18 points within 24 months, your license may be suspended for up to 90 days.
The suspension will likely be lifted if you meet the court's recommendations, such as attending a driver improvement clinic. That said, it is important to note that the penalties for improper driving may vary depending on the circumstances of that particular case and the jurisdiction. Generally, multiple convictions for improper driving usually result in higher fines and more severe penalties.
What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Reckless driving in Virginia is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. This type of violation is often considered a criminal offense that can result in fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Here are some examples of reckless driving in Virginia:
- driving at excessive speeds;
- unauthorized racing;
- driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or
- engaging in other reckless behavior that puts others in danger.
Can You Sue Someone for Improper Driving in Virginia?
Yes, you may be able to sue someone for improper driving in Virginia. Here is everything you need to know about an improper driving lawsuit in this state.
As mentioned earlier, improper driving usually endangers the life, limbs, and property of others. For this reason, if someone is injured or their property is damaged due to another driver's negligence, they may be able to file a personal injury or property damage lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
How Do You Prove You Have a Valid Improper Driving Case Against the Other Driver?
By filing an improperly driving claim or lawsuit against the other driver, you're asking them to take responsibility for their negligence. In other words, such claims or lawsuits are usually based on the grounds of negligence.
However, although an improper driving case may seem straightforward at first glance, that is not usually true. Some cases are more complex than others, so it is always advisable to involve an experienced car accident attorney in Virginia.
To prove negligence in an improper driving case, you must show that the other driver had a duty to drive safely. Under Virginia laws, all drivers have a duty to drive safely. For this reason, this element of an improperly driving claim will likely not be too difficult to prove.
Secondly, you'll need to prove that the other party, in this case, the driver, breached that duty by driving improperly. In other words, you'll need to demonstrate that they were negligent when driving.
Once that is out of the way, you will need to prove that the breach, also known as negligence, was the reason for your injuries or damages.
In the end, you may be able to recover damages if you successfully prove all these elements of an improper driving claim.
What Damages Can I Recover From an Improper Driving Claim?
The exact damages you can recover from an improper driving claim depend on the specific circumstances of your case. The laws of your jurisdiction will also play a role in determining the damages you may be able to recover. That said, you may be able to recover compensation for the following damages:
Property damage: This applies if your vehicle or other property was damaged due to improper driving. In that case, you may recover the cost of repairs or the property's fair market value if it was totaled.
Lost income: If you were unable to work due to your injuries, you might be able to recover the wages or income you lost as a result.
Medical expenses: This includes the cost of medical treatment, hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, medication, and other medical expenses deriving from the accident.
Pain and suffering: Your attorney can help you recover compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, or other non-economic damages deriving from the accident.
Punitive damages: These damages usually apply in situations where the driver's behavior was particularly reckless or malicious. The main purpose of such damages is to punish the driver and deter similar behavior in the future.
Can I File an Improper Driving Accident Claim Without an Attorney?
While you do not necessarily need an attorney to file a claim after an accident caused by improper driving, hiring an attorney significantly increases your chances of winning the case. One thing you need to know is that insurance companies use different tactics to avoid paying out what they owe claimants.
For this reason, when you file a claim without a lawyer, you will likely encounter numerous challenges. And, depending on the nature of the challenges you encounter, you may end up jeopardizing the entire claim or settling for far less than you actually deserve.
To put things into perspective, let's discuss the different tactics insurance carriers use to deny an improper driving accident claim.
Disputing liability: Insurance companies may argue that their insured driver was not at fault for the accident. Even worse, they may attempt to shift the blame to you or argue that the accident was caused by external factors beyond the driver's control. If they win such an argument, they may be able to avoid liability.
Challenging the severity of the injuries: Accidents caused by improper driving can lead to serious injuries. That notwithstanding, insurance companies may argue that the injuries sustained in the accident are not severe enough to warrant compensation. Instead, they may request additional medical documentation from the injured party and use independent medical examiners to dispute the extent of the injuries.
Contesting the claim's validity: The insurance provider may also argue that the policy does not cover the damages you or your loved one incurred. In other cases, they may claim that the policy expired or was canceled.
Delaying the processing of the claim: Some insurance carriers may even delay the processing of the claim by requesting additional documentation or conducting lengthy investigations. This common tactic can cause frustrations and financial strain for the injured, forcing them to settle for less than they deserve or give up the claim altogether.
Using social media or surveillance to dispute the claim: Did you know that insurance companies sometimes monitor the claimant's social media accounts or hire private investigators to gather evidence just to dispute the claim? This tactic is particularly common in cases involving severe injuries. For instance, they may argue that your social media posts or activities contradict their claimed injuries or damages.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for an Improper Driving Accident Claim?
One of the best ways to defeat the tactics insurance companies use to beat such claims is by hiring an experienced car accident attorney to handle the claims process on your behalf. But that's not the only reason you should consider working with such an attorney. Here is how the right attorney can influence your claim.
An experienced attorney has extensive knowledge of the laws and regulations that apply to such claims. Keep in mind that other than the overall traffic laws in Virginia, you may have to deal with other jurisdiction-specific laws. The right attorney can use their legal expertise to help you understand your rights and how the state and local laws apply to your specific situation.
The right attorney can help negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to secure a fair settlement. Again, they will use their knowledge of the law and experience with similar cases to advocate for your interests and ensure you receive compensation for your damages.
In addition, a skilled attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident to gather the facts. The investigation may include processes such as interviewing witnesses, obtaining expert opinions, examining medical reports, and so much more. This information can help to establish liability and prove the extent of your damages.
As discussed earlier, insurance companies may use bad faith practices to deny or delay your claim. Keep in mind that bad faith practices by insurance companies are punishable under Virginia laws. For example, the insurance company may be required to pay punitive damages for engaging in such practices. Again, an attorney can help protect your rights and interests by holding the insurance company accountable.
Lastly, hiring an attorney gives you peace of mind during such a stressful and challenging time. As a result, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney handles the legal aspects of your claim.
Contact a Morgan & Morgan Car Accident Attorney in Virginia
At Morgan & Morgan, we understand that improper driving cases are unique. What might seem like a valid claim in your eyes may be different from a legal standpoint. For example, as you've learned, there is a thin line between improper driving and reckless driving.
Either way, both are violations of traffic laws in Virginia. And as the victim of someone else's recklessness on the road, you may not know how best to approach your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. But the good news is that you don't have to go through this alone; our army of attorneys can help fight for you, ensuring you receive your much-deserved compensation.
So, don't wait any longer—contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.