Why Virginia drivers may not stop as they should after crashes

Both the law and common sense generally tell someone that they should stop after a major motor vehicle collision. Despite both the legal and ethical requirements to communicate with others involved in a collision and notify the authorities, plenty of people still drive off from crash scenes.

The hit-and-run collisions that they cause can leave others with severe injuries and/or worried about how they will cover property damage expenses. Why do people drive off from the scene of a crash?

They may need emergency medical care

Perhaps there are multiple people in the vehicle, and one of them struck their head on the window and has not yet regained consciousness after the crash. The driver might speed off from the scene hoping to get their passenger to a medical facility as quickly as possible. Situations involving a need for emergency medical care are effectively the only scenario in which it is arguably legal to leave the scene of a crash that otherwise requires reporting.

They know they broke the law

Motorists who don’t have insurance, who have a lapsed driver’s license or who are under the influence at the wheel are much more likely to leave the scene of a crash in the hopes of avoiding responsibility for it. If someone believes that they will face a significant financial burden or possibly end up arrested, they may drive off after causing a collision without stopping to verify that everyone else is still okay.

They didn’t notice the collision

In some cases, such as a sideswipe or an incident where a driver strikes a small domestic animal, they might fail to notice the collision as it occurs. Those distracted at the wheel or chemically impaired are more likely to fail to notice the momentary disruption of a crash that does not immobilize their vehicle. Of course, failing to observe one’s surroundings properly is not an excuse for causing a car crash. Anyone who flees the scene of a wreck without communicating with the other driver could face criminal charges in addition to civil liability for any damages or injuries that they cause.

Unfortunately for the people who didn’t cause a hit-and-run crash, it is typically necessary to identify an at-fault motorist to pursue a standard insurance claim. Otherwise, drivers depend on their uninsured motorist protection, which not everyone carries. After a hit-and-run crash, anyone who does not leave the scene will likely need to wait for the police to arrive to file a report about the collision.

Providing enough details to the officer about the incident and following up afterward could help someone demand justice after getting hurt or suffering major property damage due to a Virginia hit-and-run collision. Seeking legal guidance may be necessary to push the investigation forward or file a lawsuit against a motorist who caused a crash and then fled the scene.

2 factors that often make semi-truck collisions very complex matters

Every car crash generates significant risk for those involved. At the very least, they risk expensive property damage losses that can have lasting financial implications for their household. In a worst-case scenario, people might die.

Commercial vehicles, including semi-trucks or 18-wheelers, are responsible for some of the most devastating collisions that occur on modern roads. The people dealing with the aftermath of a car crash often have significant challenges ahead, as the process of recovering after a commercial vehicle crash can be particularly difficult. Additionally, the following factors often render the legal aftermath of crashes involving semi-trucks much more difficult to navigate than “traditional” crash scenarios.

1. There is more insurance in play

The huge size of a commercial truck makes it a threat to others on the road. They’re so much heavier and bigger than other vehicles that they are both more likely to cause crashes and more likely to cause devastating consequences for the people affected if a collision occurs.

Due to that risk, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires six-figure insurance policies from commercial drivers, and some commercial vehicles have to carry even more coverage than that because they have dangerous materials inside. Therefore, not only can the crash itself prove more devastating, but the insurance claim process will likely prove more complex because insurance providers have more incentive to fight when someone makes a claim against a commercial policy.

2. There are more people who could be to blame

After a commercial vehicle collides with a passenger vehicle, it isn’t just the driver of the semi-truck who could have some responsibility for the outcome of the situation. Their employer could be partially liable and could potentially be at fault.

Fault might also fall to companies that manufacture vehicle parts or provide service to commercial vehicle fleets. Even the companies that hire transportation businesses to provide semi-truck shipping services could be to blame if they misrepresented the nature of the cargo or improperly loaded a trailer.

It may take some careful investigation to determine who actually has liability for the collision that occurred.

The average person will find even a standard car crash claim challenging and could therefore end up totally overwhelmed by the claims process after a semi-truck collision. Recognizing the challenges ahead when responding to a commercial truck crash may benefit those involved in or affected by a wreck as they seek compensation with the assistance of a legal professional.

3 factors that often contribute to cars hitting pedestrians

The human body can suffer grave injuries when it is struck by a moving vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. Streets and parking lots often place people far too close to heavy machinery to facilitate basic public safety. Partially as a result of this reality, pedestrians do get hit and killed by those in motor vehicles on a daily basis in the United States.

The majority of these crashes are ultimately the fault of the person in the motor vehicle rather than the pedestrian. However, even if the driver is to blame, the pedestrian is the one who will lose the most in such a wreck. Pedestrians, therefore, have every reason to try to avoid known risk factors for serious pedestrian collisions. These are some of the factors that most directly affect someone’s risk of either causing or being injured in a pedestrian crash.

1. Alcohol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 46% of all pedestrian crashes involve alcohol in some way. Often, the person driving the motor vehicle is under the influence. Intoxicated pedestrians could potentially end up fatally injured in a crash that occurs when they step out into traffic without checking their surroundings.

2. Distraction

People understand how dangerous it is to text while driving, but they give very little consideration to how dangerous it might be to text while walking. People looking down at their phones instead of at oncoming traffic might step out into the street and end up hit even though the vehicle was completely visible. Especially when in a parking lot or crossing an intersection, pedestrians need to keep their focus on personal safety if they hope to avoid a wreck.

3. Visibility

Drivers often don’t think about pedestrians, which means they don’t look for pedestrians. Those walking near motor vehicles can improve their own safety by making themselves visible.

Joggers and others who are in the street frequently, focusing on visibility might involve buying special gear, like neon-colored vests, to draw the attention of drivers. In many other cases, the best way to promote visibility while walking in a parking lot or crossing the road is to use marked crosswalks and to prioritize traveling in areas with adequate lighting.

Those who cannot avoid being injured due to a pedestrian crash involving a motor vehicle may be able to pursue an insurance claim or possibly a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. Learning more about pedestrian-vehicle collisions with the assistance of a legal professional can help those who frequently walk in public spaces stay safer and those who have already suffered harm.


5 factors that can affect Virginia divorce negotiations

Divorce is a common experience, and many married couples in Virginia may eventually find themselves facing that process. Instead of litigating, it is quite common for modern couples to negotiate or mediate their differences so that they can pursue uncontested divorce proceedings.

During negotiations, potentially contentious issues may come up that could affect the ability of the process to remain amicable. For starters, there is no question that the five factors listed below could ultimately influence the outcome of a Virginia divorce.

1. Financial misconduct

Whether someone spent money on an affair or use the couple’s credit cards irresponsibly in the last few weeks or months before their divorce filing, debts and wasteful spending can be a real challenge to address in divorce negotiations. Couples may need to separate certain debts from the marital estate to arrive at fair solutions.

2. Accusations of infidelity

Virginia is one of the few states in the country that still has a law prohibiting extramarital affairs. Those accused of infidelity will likely not face prosecution, but there could be financial consequences if they used marital resources while conducting their affairs. The harm done by infidelity and the money wasted on the relationship can come into play during divorce negotiations.

3. Health issues

Although marriage vows often include promises to support one another regardless of how health may change, some people struggle to uphold those vows. Some spouses file for divorce because they don’t want to remain married to someone with cancer or intractable mental health issues. When divorce is the result of health concerns, issues including spousal support and insurance could potentially complicate divorce negotiations.

4. Companion animals

Virginia law is relatively clear about the rights of parents in the event of a divorce, meaning that people can trust that they will receive access to their children. Unfortunately, companion animals do not have the same protection under the law.  Pets can be an emotional complication during divorce proceedings, spouses may have to make concessions and potentially prepare to say goodbye to an animal they love.

5. Major assets

Real property, retirement accounts and businesses can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. They could also have significant emotional value to both of the spouses. It can be difficult for couples to set aside their feelings about one another and their property to achieve a truly reasonable solution to their property division matters.

Identifying challenges that could potentially complicate your upcoming divorce negotiations can make it easier to prepare an effective strategy and establish expectations. Talking through your concerns with your attorney can bring calm to a situation that is threatening to boil over.

How much will insurance pay after a Virginia crash?

The potential for a crash is always there, even though the vast majority of trips in motor vehicles are completely uneventful. Every day, people in Virginia don’t make it to work or the grocery store because they get into a car crash instead.

Many of them have to deal with the headache of repairing their vehicle and securing alternate transportation. Others may require medical care because they got hurt. Every driver in Virginia should carry liability insurance to reimburse others if they cause major crashes. How much can someone expect insurance to cover after a Virginia car crash?

Policy limits and state law influence coverage

Every driver in Virginia gets to determine how much insurance they want to purchase. So long as their policy reaches the state minimum coverage amounts, they can choose how much coverage they want to carry.

Some people only carry the $20,000 in property damage coverage and $25,000 per person or $50,000 per crash of bodily injury coverage currently required by state law. Those basic amounts will increase  as the insurance requirements transition to higher amounts to better align state policy with increasing medical and vehicle costs.

Other drivers may have far more than that much coverage. The policy limits of the driver at fault for the crash will typically determine what reimbursement someone can receive. Drivers who have invested in underinsured motorist coverage can make a claim against their own policies for costs beyond what the driver at fault can cover.

Major injuries may lead to court

In cases where people don’t have very much insurance or someone has truly life-altering injuries, it may be necessary to take a personal injury case to civil court. Even when a driver has generous insurance coverage, it may be necessary to fight for a reasonable settlement.

A successful personal injury claim in Virginia can lead to more extensive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and other financial consequences resulting from someone’s injuries. Learning about what benefits insurance will provide after a major car wreck will help those trying to secure appropriate financial support for the losses they’ve incurred. When questions arise in such situations, don’t hesitate to seek legal guidance as this area of law is undeniably complicated.

How addiction can lead to a cycle of criminal behavior

Decades of treating substance abuse disorders like criminal issues have only worsened the struggle with addiction in the United States. Overdose rates have skyrocketed in recent years, and substance abuse has become a public health epidemic in addition to a criminal justice challenge.

Some researchers point to the punitive approach to substance abuse as one of the reasons it has become such a prevalent issue. By treating addiction like a crime, the state helps reinforce cycles of addiction and criminal behavior.

Many states have started seeking means of addressing substance abuse problems in their residents by diverting certain cases from the traditional criminal courts. The drug courts are an alternative means of addressing criminal activity related to substance abuse. They are a way of breaking the cycle in which criminal activity and substance abuse feed into each other.

What does the data show?

A shocking number of people involved in the criminal justice system in the United States have an active substance abuse disorder. Federal estimates indicate that 85% of the people in state custody at any given time have an active addiction or were under the influence of mind-altering substances at the time of an offense.

These individuals often do not get the help that they need while in state custody and continue to struggle for years. They serve time in prison, where they experience trauma that only worsens their substance abuse disorder. Upon release, the lack of structure and social stigma from their addiction will likely hold them back from reintegrating seamlessly into society. Many will re-offend or will self-medicate and end up breaking the law because of their renewed habit of substance use.

How the drug courts break the cycle

Instead of treating someone accused of an offense related to drugs like someone who needs punishment, the drug courts help connect them with treatment. The drug courts require chemical testing and substance abuse treatment, as well as frequent interactions with court officials.

Successful completion of the drug court process can help people regain control over their substance abuse disorders while simultaneously avoiding criminal conviction and incarceration in state facilities. Recognizing how a substance abuse issue may have contributed to recent criminal charges can help those hoping to improve their lives after an arrest.