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Virginia Supreme Court Finds Defendant Is Primarily Liable After Car Accident Despite Insurance Settlement Agreement

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Virginia car accident case stemming from a car accident where a victim sustained severe injuries after a motorist failed to yield, colliding with her car. The other driver pled guilty to failure to yield and faced criminal charges. The woman’s injuries required extensive surgeries to her knee, shoulders, and hips.

The woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver to recoup the damages she suffered as a result of the accident. The victim sought $3 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages. Before the trial, the victim also filed a claim with her insurance provider. She had a $1 million car insurance policy, whereas the other driver’s insurance policy capped at $250,000. The woman and her insurance company eventually settled the claim for $750,000.

After trial, the jury awarded the woman $1,500,00 against the defendant; however, the defendant immediately filed a motion to reduce the judgment. The defendant argued that the claim should be reduced under Virginia Code § 8.01-35.1. Under § 8.01-35.1, a defendant in a Virginia personal injury lawsuit may request a reduction of a judgment against them if the plaintiff obtains a settlement from another party. To succeed in this motion, the defendant must show that the other party was responsible for the same harm as the defendant. Typically, this type of motion is filed in Virginia chain-reaction car accidents. A defendant can only successfully use this motion if the plaintiff receives a settlement, and the other person is liable for the exact wrong, harm, or damage as the defendant. In many instances, Virginia plaintiffs are entitled to receive insurance payouts in addition to damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.

In this case, the plaintiff received an insurance settlement and a jury award of damages. The insurance settlement was not due to the company’s negligence, but rather because of the defendant’s inadequate coverage. Thus, the insurance company’s obligation to pay for the coverage was not the same as the defendant’s responsibility to pay for her negligence. Thus, the court ultimately found that the defendant incorrectly applied the code, and the insurance company was not entitled to an offset based on the payout.

It is important for Virginia plaintiffs to understand the effects of the various motions that a defendant may file. Virginia car accident victims should retain experienced attorneys to help them navigate these legal hurdles.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia car accident, you should contact the experienced and dedicated attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling the various complexities of personal injury lawsuits. Our attorneys can assist victims in understanding their rights and helping them obtain compensation for their injuries. We can effectively deal with the challenges and legal loopholes that inevitably arise during some trials. The attorneys at Robinson Law can help you get the compensation you deserve. This includes compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, and property damage. Contact our law firm at (703) 542-4008 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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