Visitor Question

Can I sue personally if insurance company denies my claim?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Roanoke, Virginia)

I had just finished a day at work. As I was leaving the employee parking lot I came to a full stop at the point where the parking lot meets the traffic lane. I noticed my seat belt was too tight, so I unhooked it to adjust it. As I did, the driver in front of me backed up, striking the front of my truck.

The driver exited her car. As she approached she said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.” We moved our cars to a safe place. The driver worked in a building next to mine. We went back to her office where we made copies of our drivers licenses and insurance cards. We didn’t call the police.

The next morning I awoke in terrific pain. My husband drove me to the local hospital emergency room. I was diagnosed as having sustained a herniated disk in my lower back. The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers, Tylenol 3, and physical therapy. I endured 5 weeks of painful physical therapy.

While the driver’s insurance company paid for the repairs to my car, they denied my claim for medical treatment and physical therapy, saying I was partially at fault. What can I do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

The State of Virginia follows the common law Pure Contributory Negligence Rule.  When it comes to personal injury claims, pure contributory negligence means a driver who is even the slightest bit at fault in a car accident is completely barred from recovering any compensation from the other driver, even if the other driver was 99% at fault.

Pure contributory negligence is harsh. Many believe it to be outdated, unrealistic, and unfair. Maybe that’s why only 4 states (Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia) and the District of Columbia still follow the pure contributory negligence rule.

While there isn’t a statute under the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code specifically prohibiting cars from backing up into other cars, there is a statute prohibiting drivers from “Following too Closely.”

§46.2-816 of the Virginia Motor Vehicle Code states in part:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semi trailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time.”

Unfortunately, the driver’s insurance company is likely basing its denial of your injury claim on Section 46.2-816. The insurance company is taking the position you failed to remain at a “reasonable and prudent” distance behind the other driver. While seemingly unfair, it appears that is their position.

Just because the insurance company says the accident was partially your fault, doesn’t make it true.  Insurance companies, especially those handling claims in pure contributory negligence states, look for even a tiny bit of evidence of claimant fault. When they find what they believe to be that bit, they feel justified in denying a claim.

Seek the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most injury attorneys will not charge for an initial office consultation. After visiting with a few attorneys you will have a better idea of the probability of prevailing in your injury claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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Comments

One thought on “Can I sue personally if insurance company denies my claim?

  1. Yes I would like to know if it is legal for a home owners insurance company or claims adjuster to give my home lender information out to a restoration company which they sent out to my home just after a home fire occurred.

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