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Car Accidents

Mr. Smith did everything he promised and more. He comforted me when I was worried, and fought hard for me. He was my friend. I have already recommended a co-worker to The Smith Law Center and will speak very highly of your firm when asked about my case for years to come. Mr. Smith is truly and asset to your firm, as he is a terrific person and attorney. Thanks for excellent representation.
– Sincerely yours, Joe


The time period immediately following a car wreck can be stressful and confusing. As experienced accident lawyers in Virginia, we at The Smith Law Center understand what you’re going through. This page covers a checklist for what to do right after you’ve been in an accident, frequently asked questions about car accident lawsuits and a list of the types of car accident cases our law firm accepts.

If you have a question and do not find your answer here, please do not hesitate to call and speak to our attorneys for free at 877.537.4340 or fill out this short form. We welcome your questions!


Were you just involved in a wreck? Click the button for a checklist of 9 Things to Do if You’ve Just Been in a Car Accident.



How much is my car accident case worth?

Each person’s situation is different, so this answer will vary depending on several factors. We highly recommend having a qualified car accident lawyer in Virginia review your unique circumstances to provide you with the most accurate value for your potential case. Factors such as damage to your vehicle, the severity of your injuries, all related medical costs and how much work you missed due to the accident will all combine to count as economic damages. You may even qualify for non-economic damages, such as emotional pain and suffering. A car accident can cause significant distress, especially if you’ve lost a loved one or developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These are examples of non-physical damages that you may be able to claim in your case.

How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?

Car accident lawyer fees will vary between law firms. However, the attorneys at The Smith Law Center only collect a fee if we are successful in winning compensation for you. This means the filing fees, investigations, court appearances and everything else that goes into building a strong case on your behalf is at no cost to you if we do not win your case.

Can I hire your firm if I don’t live nearby?

Yes! Our firm accepts  car accidents cases all throughout the U.S. and Virginia. We also understand that certain individuals are not able to travel due to their injuries, in which case we are more than happy to come to you at a hospital or even your home.

When should I hire a car accident lawyer?

The best way to make sure you receive maximum compensation for your losses is to hire a car wreck attorney as soon as possible following your accident. Not only does this ensure valuable, time-sensitive evidence is secured, it gives your car accident attorney time to dispatch investigators and build an effective case on your behalf.

client and lawyer

How can a lawyer help me?

To put it simply, a car accident attorney is going to protect your best interests when your insurance company is not. Your losses deserve to be recognized and compensated for, and your attorney will go to bat for you so that you can properly heal. Auto accidents can be devastating; we will shoulder the burden while you focus on getting your life back together. Compensation from a lawsuit can help cover the financial stress that often ensues after a wreck to pay for costs, including:

  • All related medical expenses, including ambulance rides, doctor appointments, medication and physical therapy
  • Missed wages due to time away from work, so that you have adequate time to rest
  • Repairing or replacing your vehicle
  • Emotional pain and suffering, including counseling or therapy for trauma related impact
  • Loss of a loved one, if necessary

You are not required to hire an attorney after a car accident, but it is a wise decision to. You can trust the experienced lawyers at The Smith Law Center with the details of your specific situation.



What’s the deadline for filing a car accident claim?

In Virginia, you have until two years from the date of the accident to file a car accident claim. There are rare exceptions to this rule that most will not qualify for. If you’re unsure about the details surrounding your case, please call to speak with our Virginia auto accident attorneys today. Your call is completely free of charge.

How is your law firm different?

The Smith Law Center has recovered more than 1 billion for clients, including record-setting verdicts. We have 300+ years of combined experience as one of Virginia’s largest personal injury firms. The Smith Law Center is internationally-recognized, specifically for our work with serious and catastrophic injuries, including brain injury.

Firm director Stephen Smith is a graduate of Marquette University’s Neuroanatomical Dissection of the Human Brain and Spinal Cord program. His experience with a scalpel gives him an edge in the courtroom.™ At The Smith Law Center, you’ll find the caring and aggressive representation you want with the experience and skill you need.


african american person had an car accident

Single-vehicle Accidents

Single vehicle accidents occur when no other car, truck, motorcycle, or cyclist is involved. More than 60 percent of single-car accidents are run-off-road crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Single Vehicle Accident Liability

The driver is responsible for these accidents in the vast majority of cases. Passenger injury claims in single-car accidents caused by the driver are typically straightforward. Passengers who are hurt or bystanders like pedestrians often bring injury claims. It may be possible to shift this liability to a third party who is responsible for a dangerous condition.

Examples include a local authority if a driver swerved to avoid an unrepaired pothole, a truck driver whose load slipped onto the road causing a wreck, or a contractor who left machinery on the highway. If an animal like a deer ran onto the road and the driver did not have time to take evasive action, the driver may not be liable for the accident.

Rear-end Collisions

Rear-end accidents occur when a driver is hit from behind. Usually, the driver who crashes into the vehicle in front is to blame for injuries, though there are exceptions.

Rear End Collision Liability

The driver of the car that was hit from behind may be at fault if they stopped suddenly, ran a red light or failed to check for other traffic on the road. Virginia’s strict contributory negligence law means you may not be able to make a recovery from the other driver’s insurance policy if you were even 1 percent at fault for a wreck. 

Causes of Rear End Accidents

Causes of rear-end collisions include: 

  • Tailgating
  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Drugged driving
  • Traffic congestion
  • Tired driving
  • Excess speed
  • Road rage
  • Mechanical failure
  • Poor weather

Neck injuries such as whiplash are common in rear-end collisions, but more serious injuries like fractures and brain injuries can also occur.

Rear-End Collisions in Hampton 

I-64 in Hampton, Big Bethel Road and Settlers Landing Road are all known sites in Hampton for rear-end collisions. Stop and go traffic is common, like the kind seen on Jefferson Avenue in Newport News or Warwick Boulevard. Driver inattention or negligence often causes many of these wrecks.

Rollover Car Accidents

A rollover accident occurs when a vehicle tips onto its roof or its side. They are often the result of sudden braking on curves, lane change accidents, or crashes when cars run off the road. The vehicle’s momentum tips it over.

SUVs have a reputation for flipping over. However, improved safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) have helped. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts rollover testing that assesses each vehicle’s rollover risk. Of the 10 vehicles rated a higher rollover risk, nine were SUVs and pickup trucks.

Types of Rollover Accidents

There are two different types of rollover accidents: tripped rollovers and untripped rollovers. Tripped rollovers are the most common type and occur when a car leaves the road and rolls over on soil or grass or another surface. These crashes have a high fatality rate because drivers and passengers often hit trees.

Untripped rollover accidents occur when the vehicle tips over without sliding off the road or hitting an obstacle. Top-heavy vehicles like SUVs or trucks are more likely to tip over on curves or when the driver swerves to avoid an obstacle or a crash.

Causes of Rollover Accidents

The most common causes of rollover wrecks are:

  • Tripping, which causes about 95 percent of all rollover accidents, according to NHTSA
  • Road hazards such as potholes or construction zones
  • Tire failure
  • Top heavy design on high-sided vehicles like minivans, SUVs and pickups
  • Chain reaction accidents 

Ejections are common in rollover accidents, and the trauma of the impact with the glass compounds often compounds the severity of injuries when this happens. Using a seat belt increases your chances of surviving a rollover crash or escaping serious injuries.


Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk drivers caused 7,285 accidents and 248 deaths in 2017, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Arrests of intoxicated drivers led to 18,701 DUI convictions. Men are more likely to be convicted of drunk driving than women. Almost 70 percent of DUI convictions were male.

Drunk Driving Accident Liability

If you have been injured by a drunk driver or have even lost a loved one, we understand the trying time you are going through. We’re here to help. You may be entitled to full and fair compensation for your losses and potentially more.

Under Virginia code, a court may award punitive damages, which are in addition to the compensation the victim of a DUI crash Smith Law Center is entitled to. The maximum recovery for punitive damages is $350,000. They are not available in every case, though The  has successfully won punitive damages for clients in many cases.

T-bone & Side Impact Crashes

Side-impact collisions happen where vehicles intersect perpendicularly. They are also called T-bone, broadside or side-impact crashes. Unsurprisingly, almost three-quarters of broadside accidents occur at intersections when a motorist fails to stop at a stop sign or a red light.

Although automakers added stronger side impact bars to their vehicles in recent years, this is the part of the car where protection is at its thinnest. Cars contain just a thin piece of metal between the flank of a vehicle and a driver or a passenger. When a heavy pickup or a tractor-trailer causes a crash, the consequences can be dire for victims.

Various factors determine the seriousness of a side-impact crash, including:

  • Size and weight of the vehicles
  • Speed of an approaching vehicle
  • Collision points
  • Seat belts use


T Bone Crash Liability

The driver of the car that broadsided another vehicle is often to blame for a wreck, though this is not always the case. For instance, a driver who runs a red light may be broadsided by a car that has the right of way. Likewise, a driver who fails to comply with a stop sign and merges onto a busy highway risks being broadsided. We often see this in rural areas with fast-moving highways like Route 13 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

T-Bone accidents are usually caused by negligence, most commonly by:

  • Red-light runners
  • Stop sign runners
  • Drivers who fail to yield the right of way
  • Drunk motorists
  • Texting or other distracted driving at the wheel
  • Mechanical issues such as brake failures or a tire blowout

Hit & Run Accidents

Drivers should never leave the scene of an accident. They can face criminal charges even in property-damage-only wrecks. You should always wait for a police officer to arrive. Minor fender benders may not require a police investigation, however, be sure to exchange insurance information with the other driver before leaving the scene.

A Virginia driver who hits and damages an unoccupied vehicle is required to make a reasonable effort to find the driver or contact the driver about the accident under Virginia law.

Hit and Run Accident Liability

If you were hit by a driver who left the wreck scene, you can sue the hit-and-run driver.  “Hit and Run” or “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” are charges that can result in serious consequences. These range from a simple fine to a prison sentence, depending on the severity of a personal injury or the extent of property damage.

When a driver causes death or injury, hit-and-run is a felony offense. In cases when police lack sufficient evidence to charge a suspect with hit-and-run, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against this driver. The burden of proof – or the standard you need to prove in the case – is lower in a civil case than in criminal prosecution.

Although many hit-and-run drivers are tracked down by the police, there are occasions when the at-fault motorist is never found. This causes issues for victims who have no party to sue for their injuries. Fortunately, Virginia law allows you to use uninsured motorist coverage to make a claim against your own insurance policy in these cases. 

Red-light Runner

Red-light running accidents are one of the most dangerous types of collisions, often caused by inattention or reckless and aggressive driving. A motorist commits a traffic violation by entering an intersection after the signal turns red. Motorists who are inadvertently already at the intersection at the time the signal changes are not red-light runners.

However, when a right turn on red is allowed, drivers who do not come to a complete stop before turning may be fined for a red-light violation. Turning right on red at intersections where you are not allowed to turn right on red is also considered an offense. 

Red Light Accidents in Hampton, Virginia

Many intersections in Hampton Roads have red-light cameras, including the intersection between Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Road, one of the busiest and hazardous on the Virginia Peninsula. Although the cameras appeared in 2012, it remains an accident hot stop. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, more than 350 accidents have been reported here since 2014.

Certain states do not permit left turns on red, though Virginia allows drivers to turn left after stopping at a red light at the intersection of one-way streets. A driver can make a left on red from a one-way street onto another one-way street in Virginia as long as the road is clear and the driver stopped. 

Auto Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents make up roughly 10 percent of Virginia’s fatal traffic accidents and are often caused by careless, reckless, drunk, or distracted drivers. Because they lack the protection of a vehicle frame, even an impact at a low speed can cause fatal or serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries.

Virginia Pedestrian Laws

Under Virginia law, pedestrians must use a sidewalk where it’s available. If they have to walk on the road, they must walk on the extreme left of the roadway. Virginia’s contributory negligence law states that if a pedestrian is at all responsible for their injuries, he or she loses the right to claim damages.

Under Virginia code, § 46.2-924, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians at:

  • Clearly marked crosswalks
  • Regular pedestrian crossings at the end of a block
  • Intersections when a driver is approaching on a highway where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour

If you or a loved one were hurt on a crosswalk or other place where you have the right of way as a pedestrian, you may have grounds to sue a driver. The attorneys at The Smith Law Center can help you understand your rights.





A range of factors can cause car accidents, including:

  • Excessive speed
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Driver fatigue
  • Texting or distracted driving
  • Overcorrecting to avoid a hazard
  • Poor weather
  • Animal in the road, such as a deer
  • Faulty mechanic work
  • Mechanical failure, such as a tire blowout
  • Road defects

We cover a few of these in more detail below.


The effects of driver fatigue can be as serious as drunk driving. In fact, driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is similar to driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent, according to The National Safety Council.

Fatigue results in 1,550 deaths every year in the US (NHTSA). Almost 60 percent of drowsy driving accidents involve a driver who drifts across the road or into the lane of another vehicle.


Drivers Most at Risk

Drivers who spend long hours on the highways of Virginia or elsewhere are most likely to fall asleep at the wheel. High-risk groups include:

  • Commercial vehicle drivers (tractor-trailers, buses, tow trucks, company vans, etc.)
  • Night shift workers
  • Drivers with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Senior citizens
  • Drivers using certain medications

Fatigued driving wrecks in Virginia are particularly serious when commercial vehicles are involved. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates about 13 percent of all truckers were tired at the time of their crash. However, it’s not always easy to prove a driver was drowsy. An experienced injury lawyer will look at the underlying facts, such as the driver’s medical history and required break times.

Mechanical Failure & Defective Auto Parts

A carmaker or a third party like a workshop can also be held liable for an accident caused by a brake failure, a tire blowout, or another serious defect. If a defect caused a vehicle to veer off the road and crash, you may have grounds to sue the manufacturers of a car or a component. Claims related to defective cars that cause injuries are complicated.

Tire Blowout

Tire blowouts are often serious because they are sudden and the driver may have little time to take corrective action. NHTSA’s Crash Causation Survey found tire issues caused as many as 1 in 11 crashes (9%). 


Causes of Tire Blowouts

Factors for crashes due to tire blowouts can include:

  • Extremely high temperatures – Triple digits increase tire pressure, stretching tires to their limits. The tire expands, spreading the tread.
  • Under-inflation – Experts say low tire pressure can also lead to a range of problems, including longer stopping distances and added wear and tear to tire components.
  • Tire age – Manufacturers recommend replacing tires that are six to ten years old, regardless of tread wear. If your car is fitted with a used replacement tire, try to establish the age of the tire before it is fitted.
  • Tread depth – With tread depth of 2/32” or less, cars and trucks experienced three times more tire issues before the crash than vehicles with tread depth between 3 to 4/32”.
  • Manufacturer defects – When tires are properly maintained, manufacturer defects can still cause a blowout. Defective tires are more likely to fail in hot weather, but a tire blowout may also be caused by poor fitting of the tire on the rim.

Those injured in crashes due to design defects in a car or its parts may have grounds to sue the manufacturer. However, if poor maintenance was to blame, a driver may accept full liability for damages or injuries.


Two persons involved in a car accident

  1. Do not admit fault – even if you think you might be responsible in any way
  2. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Seek medical attention – even if you feel fine. This will be critical for proving any injuries you’ve had and could also determine how much you receive in damages.
  3. Move to safety if your car is operable to avoid causing traffic or another collision.
  4. Call 911 and obtain a police report.
  5. Limit conversation with the other driver. Avoid offering your opinion or accepting blame.
  6. Collect information, including:
    1. Driver’s name, address and phone number
    2. Witness names and contact info
    3. Police officer’s name, badge number and contact info
    4. Insurance company and policy number
    5. Vehicle make, model, year, registration info and license plate
    6. Collision details:
      1. Date, time and location of the accident
      2. Direction both vehicles were traveling in
      3. Weather, visibility, driving conditions
      4. What happened: Sketch it, write it out or record yourself describing it on your phone
      5. Take photos from different angles with your phone
  7. Call your insurance, preferably from the scene and open a claim within 24 hours.
  8. Do not speak with the other party’s insurance company. This could hurt your claim and we will handle that for you.
  9. Call the car accident attorneys at The Smith Law Center as soon as possible.


Smith Law Center is one of Virginia’s largest personal injury law firms with 28 attentive staff members and a combined 300+ years of legal experience. You’ll find the caring and aggressive representation you need for your car accident, and firm Director Stephen M. Smith is also a graduate of Marquette University’s Neuroanatomical Dissection Course for the Brain and Spinal Cord. His experience with a scalpel gives him an edge in the courtroom.™ Contact us today to find out how you can receive compensation for your damages and injuries. We are more than just your attorneys, we are your advocates.


Award to School Librarian for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Auto Wreck

Awarded: $4,750,000.00

Summary: HAMPTON, Virginia – Company pays $4,750,000.00 to school librarian for mild traumatic brain injury in auto wreck.


Award to School Librarian for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Auto Wreck

Awarded: $4,750,000.00

Summary: HAMPTON, Virginia – Company pays $4,750,000.00 to school librarian for mild traumatic brain injury in auto wreck.

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Your legal questions answered, completely free of charge.

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We are one of Virginia’s largest and most successful law firms.

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There are absolutely no out-of-pocket fees for filing a claim.


Use the simple form below to send a message directly to our lawyers. We will respond within 1 hour or less during business hours.
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Your legal questions answered, completely free of charge.

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There are absolutely no out-of-pocket fees for filing a claim.

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We are one of Virginia’s largest and most successful law firms.



Use the simple form below to send a message directly to our lawyers. We will respond within 1 hour or less during business hours.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.