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What Your Teen Needs to Know About Car Accidents in VirginiaYour teen has just started driving...Yikes! I get it; there's a lot to be worried about!  To help you out, I've decided to write a quick article about what things kids need to know before getting behind the wheel here in Virginia. 

Feel free to print this out, and add it to their reading list.  Here you go. 

1. Texting and driving.  It may not seem like a big deal, but texting and driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.  As I'm writing this article, there is a successful attorney (about my age) facing manslaughter charges here in Virginia because it's alleged she was texting and driving when she hit a vehicle with a family in it.  Sadly, the accident lead to multiple deaths, and she's looking at serious jail time and losing her law license.  If you can't abide by this rule, you can't drive.  It's that simple. 

2. Drunk driving. In the same vein, I've worked on multiple cases where young people have been charged with manslaughter for causing the death of another by having a few drinks and causing an accident.  Of course, you shouldn't be drinking at all if you're under 21.  But if you find yourself having made a mistake, don't only compound that mistake with getting behind the wheel.  Download Lyft and get a ride home.  I'm sure mom and dad would prefer you catching a ride home rather than the alternative. 

3. Contributory negligence. You probably have no idea what this means.  But if you're involved in an accident, here in Virginia, and you contributed even just 1%, you are barred from being compensated for your injuries.  Even if your parents incur 10's of thousands of dollars in medical bills because of your treatment, you will not be awarded anything (and may very well be sued) if you were at fault at all for your car accident.  I say this to focus on the point that you're driving a great piece of technology that can vastly improve your life.  It can also end your's or someone else's life if you don't give it the respect it deserves. 

4. What to do if you've been in a car accident.  A couple of things here (assuming you're physically able to, and everyone is safe):

  • Take photographs of the property damage (a picture is worth 1000 words);
  • If there are witnesses to the accident that help establish that you weren't at fault, get their contact information.  You may need them later;  
  • Don't admit fault.  Your admission can and will be used against you; 
  • Contact your parents right away to let them know that you are OK and so they know to contact the insurance company; 
  • Never try to flee the scene of an accident because it's likely a felony charge if you do;
  • Make sure to get the treatment you need and follow your doctor's orders. 

Do you have any questions?

I practice both personal injury and criminal defense here in Northern Virginia.  If this article raised more questions, or you have anything else you were wondering about Virginia personal injury, traffic, or criminal law, reach out.  We love talking to people that care.  Our phone number is 703-591-9829. 

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.