Are you planning to travel this holiday season? According to AAA, roughly 55.4 million travelers will be on the roads this holiday season, and many of them will be traveling to visit relatives in different states.
Between traffic congestion, unfamiliar roads and holiday fatigue, accidents are bound to happen. What do you do if you end up in one of them while you’re traveling in or through Richmond from another state?
Where does the lawsuit get filed?
For a court’s ruling to be valid, it must have jurisdiction, or authority, over a case and the parties involved. Where car accidents are concerned, the state where the wreck occurred generally has that jurisdiction. If you were injured in a Virginia wreck, that usually means filing your claim in this state, as well.
That’s important to understand because each state has its own rules concerning negligence and personal injury claims – and Virginia’s rules may be very different from those of your home state. In particular, the Commonwealth still follows what is known as the “pure contributory negligence” rule. Under pure contributory negligence, a victim cannot recover their losses for an accident if they are even 1% at fault for the wreck. That makes each claim a very high-stakes (and often hard-fought) case.
Does that mean you have to travel back and forth?
Fortunately, personal injury cases involving motor vehicle accidents can be handled very efficiently from a distance. The vast majority of car accident claims are settled through negotiations with the insurance company or companies involved, and that can be done largely via mail, email and telephone. Even if your claim does start to proceed to a trial, it may be possible to handle the majority of the preparatory work remotely, thanks to modern technology.
However, one fact cannot be overstated: It’s critical to have legal assistance from someone familiar with the area where the accident occurred. Their insight into both state laws and local judicial temperaments and procedures will likely prove essential to a positive outcome.