Virginia gets a lot of out-of-state drivers. People come here for vacation, business, or just passing through on their way up or down the East Coast. Because Virginia has some of the worst traffic in the nation, we see many out-of-state drivers involved in car accidents and fender benders. When this happens, one common question I get from out-of-state drivers (or out-of-state attorneys) is whether they should get a Virginia attorney on a case for a Virginia accident. The answer is simple - yes.
Your Accident Case Is Where The Accident Happened
Personal injury claims arise in the location where you were injured. So if you were in Virginia just on vacation, and got hurt in an accident, your case will be here. That means Virginia laws apply, and your case will be determined by Virginia laws.
Just like every state, Virginia has unique laws that may seem unusual to out-of-state drivers. The biggest issue for car accident victims is Virginia's contributory negligence stance. That means if you were partially at fault for an accident, even 1% at fault, you are barred from recovering damages from your accident.
Virginia is one of only four states, including Washington D.C., that have pure contributory negligence laws on the books. Out-of-state attorneys won't be accustomed to pursuing personal injury cases with this high threshold of comparative fault.
Given that, you need a Virginia attorney to work on the case. Virginia attorneys are better suited to know the ins-and-outs of Virginia laws and courts. It's just commonsense.
I Found An Attorney In My Homestate. Can't That Attorney Just Handle My Case?
Well technically, yes. However, should the case actually need to be litigated, that attorney will either have to be permitted by the court to practice in Virginia (and get a Virginia attorney to sponsor him or her). Or the attorney will have to ultimately hire a Virginia attorney to resolve the matter.
Personally, I think it adds unnecessary complications to cases to hire out-of-state attorneys to handle Virginia claims. Just like I'd never handle a case in Colorado or Tennessee, I think you'd be best served to hire a Virginia attorney for your Virginia claim.
Many believe that retaining an attorney who lives out of state is complicated, but in reality it's not hard. While we recommend meeting the attorney you will hire in person, if it is unreasonable to travel into Virginia, you can do phone consultations or video interviews with many attorneys before you hire. The statute of limitations for car accident cases is two years in Virginia, so you should have time to recover from your injuries and interview attorneys before you have to file your claim.
Don't let the insurance company rush your decision. Though you are an out-of-state driver, you still have time to research Virginia car accident cases and hire the right attorney that will help you.
Any questions? Disagree? You can contact BenGlassLaw for more details.