Virginia Negligence Laws
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Garrett Monteagudo, Esq. | Last reviewed January 10, 2023
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The term "negligence" refers to the failure to exercise the proper degree of care expected by a reasonable person in a given situation. For example, a bus driver is expected to be sober during their shift and follow all applicable traffic laws. Any injuries to passengers resulting from a drunk driving accident or failure to obey traffic signals can be blamed on the driver's negligence.
Proving negligence involves defining what a reasonable person would or wouldn't do in a given situation, and establishing that the negligent party breached their duty of care, which was the proximate cause of your injuries.
The following is a primer on Virginia negligence laws, including links to statutes and plain-English explanations of the law.
Under Virginia negligence laws, if an injured person is found to have contributed to the accident or injury in any way, no matter how minor, you don't have a case. It's a very harsh rule that still applies in the Commonwealth. Some states follow a more enlightened version of the fault law called "comparative negligence." Alas, Virginia still chooses what is known as the "pure contributory negligence rule." That means the other person has to be 100 percent at fault or you can't collect any monetary damages.
Common Carrier Exception
If you've been injured as a passenger on a bus or other common carrier, you may be entitled to bring a negligence claim against both the bus company and the bus driver to recover compensation for your injuries. Contributory negligence by the plaintiff won't bar recovery from common carriers (such as buses and airplanes) if a safety code was violated. This may include, but isn't limited to, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
Virginia Negligence Laws at a Glance
If you're not an attorney, reading and understanding the implications of state laws is no easy task. Many of these statutes describe detailed legal concepts that aren't as widely known. Therefore, we've summarized the main points of Virginia negligence laws below for your convenience.
Code of Virginia, Title 8.01:
|Contributory Negligence: Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery||Virginia law recognizes the pure contributory negligence rule, in which a plaintiff may not recover for injuries if they are even slightly at fault.|
|Contribution Among Tortfeasors||Where one defendant has been sued and must pay a certain amount of money to the injured party, that defendant may then sue other parties who are also liable to the injured party in order to recover some of the money paid.|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- Virginia Law — Summaries of select Virginia laws, covering a wide range of legal practice areas, including criminal, family, injury, and small business.
- Official State Codes -- Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and D.C.
Virginia Negligence Laws: Related Resources
- Virginia Civil Statute of Limitations
- Virginia Car Accident Compensation Laws
- Virginia Wrongful Death Laws
Get Legal Help with Your Negligence Case in Virginia
If you've been harmed in Virginia and you feel you should be compensated, you'll need an attorney who understands Virginia's pure contributory negligence rules and other tort laws in the state.
To learn more about your rights under Virginia negligence laws, it's a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney in Virginia today.
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