The defendant was charged for your Virginia car accident.  What should you do?

Were you injured in a Virginia car accident and the other driver was issued a criminal charge for their driving behavior?  If so, it’s important that you pay attention to what happens to the defendant’s case because it may affect your personal injury claim.

As such, we believe you shouldn’t simply rely on law enforcement and the courts prosecuting the defendant and keeping you in the loop. You need to take an active role.

The Virginia Constitution protects injury victims.

Under Article I, Section 8A, the Virginia Constitution affords injury victims certain rights, to include timely notification of judicial proceedings. 

Unfortunately, far too often, I have injury victims consult with me regarding their personal injury claim.  And when I ask what happened to the defendant’s court case, they have no clue. Upon digging deeper, often times, I’ll see that the defendant’s case will have already been resolved, without the victim’s input.  Sometimes the result is good for the injury victim, sometimes it’s not.

You have to be your own advocate.

Because of this, we advise injury victims to be proactive when it comes to the defendant’s case.  First, here’s a video explaining how to find the defendant’s court case online.

Additionally, we recommend that you call the investigating officer to get an update on the prosecution and making sure they calendar the defendant’s next court dates.  As court approaches, we also encourage the victim to stay in touch with the officer.  If you get no response, we further recommend you reaching out to the local commonwealth’s attorney to let them know you are very interested in being involved in the case and have a vested interest in the outcome.

What might you have to do as the injury victim.

Look, most cases resolve short of court.  However, often, traffic court results in trials.  Given that you’re an injury victim, your testimony could be vital in proving the case against the defendant.  Therefore, yes, you may be required to testify in court.

If you are an Abrenio Law client, we will talk to you in detail about this process. In short, you’ll work with the prosecutor who will facilitate you telling your story to the court.  While this certainly can be a stressful process, it’s important that you are willing to help out if a prosecutor needs it.

You likely won’t be happy with the outcome, even when the prosecutor and courts do their job.

Look, you may have suffered a catastrophic injury due to the defendant’s driving.  Your life may be forever changed.  If so, you’ll likely also be surprised that the defendant is perhaps only facing a reckless driving charge or a traffic citation, like failure to yield.  How is it possible that they may only receive a fine or driving school?!

To be clear, we don’t have a fair answer for you.  All we can advise you to do is focus on how the outcome in the defendant’s case may be used in your personal injury claim.  Indeed, if the defendant is charged with a reckless driving, but pleads to a traffic citation of improper driving, this may be in your best interest when it comes to your personal injury claim.

More questions?

James Abrenio is an award-winning Fairfax Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney.  Abrenio Law handles cases throughout Northern Virginia.  If you have additional questions, reach out to as at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.  You can also email James directly at james@abreniolaw.com. Also make sure to check out more questions we’ve answered on our Car Accident Practice Page.