Virginia Auto Accident Laws & Resources
No one wants to end up in a car accident. They are scary, messy, and can cause even more trouble in the days to come. But if you live in Virginia or are just passing through, you should be prepared with knowledge. This page discusses important Virginia auto accident laws and other laws and regulations.
Learn the basics of insurance laws, determining fault, and how long you have to file a lawsuit in the state of Virginia.
If you have questions about your Virginia auto accident claim or even a lawsuit, you can find an experienced Virginia car accident attorney on this website.
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Is Virginia A No-Fault State For Car Accidents?
Virginia is an at-fault state for auto accidents and auto insurance purposes. Unlike states with a no-fault standard, someone hurt in a car accident doesn’t obtain compensation from their own insurance policy. Instead, they seek compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
The only exception is if the at-fault driver has little or no insurance coverage.
In this state, you have three options to seek compensation after a car accident:
- File a car accident negligence lawsuit against the liable driver
- File a 3rd-party claim against the liable driver’s insurance company
- If the injured party has coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance company.
Note that about 10% of drivers in Virginia have little or no insurance coverage. It’s wise to carry this extra policy on your insurance to ensure coverage in all accidents. This is important because you could have thousands of dollars in damages and injuries. Without proper coverage, you may not get compensation if the at-fault driver lacks insurance.
How To Determine Fault In A Virginia Car Accident?
All drivers in this state have a duty to drive with a reasonable degree of care. If you violate this standard and cause an accident, the other driver can sue you for negligence.
To prove negligence in this state, you need to prove the following:
- The other driver owed you a duty. All drivers in this state owe others on public roads a duty to drive with a reasonable degree of caution and care.
- The other driver breached this duty. To prove it, you will need to show the other drive did not drive with a reasonable degree of care. An example is if the other driver was texting and driving.
- You sustained damages and injuries because of the breach. You need to show that the other driver’s failure to drive responsibly led to the accident. This means, except for the actions of the driver, the car accident never would have occurred.
While drivers are usually at fault for auto accidents, there are some cases where another entity could be liable:
- Manufacturers. Can be liable for an auto accident if there was a defective vehicle part that led to the accident. In this case, a product liability lawsuit could be in order.
- Government entities. In some citations, a poor road condition, such as an open manhole, may have caused the car crash. The local, state or federal government is usually responsible for maintaining the road.
If injured by a manufacturer or government entity, it’s important for you to hire an attorney skilled in these cases. These lawsuits are complex. Additionally, there will be aggressive attorneys on the other side trying to deny your claim.
How Long Do You Have To Report An Accident In Virginia?
You must report an accident in Virginia within 24 hours if there was a serious injury or death. It also is also a requirement to do so if there is any property damage.
As you would expect, most car accidents involve one or more of these situations, so you should definitely report the accident to the police within a day. If the police show up to the accident and file a police report, then you don’t have to do anything.
If they don’t, you should go to the nearest police station and file a report within 24 hours. This will help to ensure you don’t get a misdemeanor charge for not reporting an accident. Worse, you could be charged with hit and run if the other driver reports it. So, always remember to report any accident to the police in Virginia.
Regarding reporting to your insurance company, you should report it as soon as you can. But, within 30 days is the normal standard.
That said, you should not talk to the other driver’s insurance company on your own. The best thing to do is to have your attorney handle conversations with that insurance provider.
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If you are in the middle of a claim or lawsuit and need a copy of a crash report, you can obtain a report from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the crash report shows the other driver in Virginia caused the accident, this could be helpful for your claim.
Rendering Aid After A Virginia Car Accident
If you are in a car accident involving injury or death, you need to file a report to the police. Also, you need to render reasonable assistance to anyone hurt in such an event. This may include taking the injured to a doctor or hospital if it is obvious that medical treatment is necessary.
If the driver does not stop, everyone in the car who is 16 or older must report the incident to the police within 24 hours.
Keep in mind that if you are dealing with a hit and run driver in this state, the police will do their best to find them. But if they cannot, then you will need to rely on your own insurance to pay your damages. That is why you should have uninsured and underinsured coverage.
Virginia Dram Shop Law
There is no Dram Shop law in this state. This law refers to the right to file a lawsuit against someone who provides alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person, who then causes a car accident.
While there is no Dram Shop law, you can still sue an intoxicated driver for damages if he caused the accident.
Virginia Auto Accident Laws: Government Tort Claims And Sovereign Immunity
In this state, you can file a claim or lawsuit against a government agency for property damage or personal injury because of negligence on the part of a government employee. This claim needs to refer to the lawful action of the governmental employee in the scope of their work.
If the injury you sustained was because of an illegal action, then you can only sue the person for an injury individually. The government agency isn’t liable in this case.
Note that Virginia has caps in place for these cases. Claims made after July 1993 cannot be for more than $100,000. Also, you need to file the claim within one year of the accident.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For A Car Accident In Virginia?
If you cannot resolve your car accident claim with the insurance company, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit using your attorney. But you should be aware of the statute of limitations in this state.
If you want compensation for injuries that occurred during the accident, you have two years from the date of the crash. But if you want compensation for damages to your vehicle, you have five years from the date of the crash.
If you seek compensation for someone killed in a car accident, you must file the case within two years of the date of death.
It’s important to seek a car accident attorney as soon as you can in a serious car accident. Many attorneys will not take a case if it is too close to the statute of limitations. It can take months for a skilled attorney to put together a complex car accident lawsuit. Therefore, you want to give them as much time as you can.
Can Someone Sue You For A Car Accident If You Have Insurance In Virginia?
If you carry insurance in Virginia and cause a car accident, the insurance coverage will cover the damages in most cases.
However, if you carry a minimum amount of insurance, your policy limits could be reached. At that point, they could sue you for the difference and you would be required to pay the rest out of your assets. Some people don’t have a lot of assets, so it does not really matter if they get sued for the rest, although it is possible to garnish someone’s wages for years to get the money.
This is a strong argument for carrying insurance that is well above the insurance minimums. If you have a lot of assets, you could lose them in a lawsuit. In Virginia, this means they also could try to force the sale of your home to get compensation for injuries and damages.
Virginia Auto Accident Settlements
Settlements for auto accidents in Virginia vary a great deal so it is hard to say how much you could get. Some of the considerations in these situations include the amount of property damage. Also consider the injuries and medical treatment needed. Additionally, identify any pain and suffering, and lost wages.
In many car accidents, the settlement figure is about 1.5 times your medical bills and lost wages. The additional money is for your pain and suffering. Some surveys suggest the average car accident settlement across the country is about $15,000, and $3,000 for property damages only.
Virginia Accident Settlement Taxes
For the most part, a settlement that you receive from a personal injury is not taxable in the state of Virginia. The whole point of a personal injury settlement is to attempt to make you whole again. Taking taxes from this amount defeats that goal. After a car accident, the injured person likely receives compensation for lost earnings, medical costs, and/or pain and suffering. As a result of the accident, the injured person will usually have medical costs, lost earnings, pain and suffering, etc.
That said, there are instances where you can be taxed. If you receive punitive damages, those are taxable by federal and state. Punitive damages aren’t intended as reparations to the victim, but rather as punishment for the person responsible for the car accident.
Also, repayment for out of pocket medical expenses is taxable. This is something that you should review with a tax professional.
Lastly, interest or appreciation from your Virginia car accident settlement is also taxable.
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Virginia Auto Accident Laws: Contributory Negligence
Virginia has an unusual contributory negligence rule when determining liability for car accidents. This means you cannot receive damages for losses if you were even 1% at fault in the accident.
This rule makes it more difficult for some accident victims to receive compensation in Virginia. Many states have a comparative negligence standard, which means the amount of settlement you get depends on your amount of fault.
For example, most states say if you have $10,000 in damages but are 30% at fault for the accident, your settlement is $7,000. That is not the law in Virginia.
This is why it’s especially important to have an excellent attorney fighting for you if you have damages. You want to be sure that you don’t get any blame for the accident so you can get a settlement.
Virginia Auto Insurance Claim Laws
In this state, you are required to have a minimum amount of insurance:
- Bodily injury and death of one person – $25,000
- Bodily injury and death per accident – $50,000
- Property damage – $20,000
If you do not want to buy insurance, you are required to pay the $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee. This does not provide you with insurance, but it allows you to drive legally at your own risk. Virginia features a tort system in the case of an accident. This means if you are found to be at fault, you can be sued for a variety of damages, including economic and actual damages, as well as pain and suffering.
This state does not require you to carry other coverage such as collision or comprehensive insurance. But if you have a lot of financial assets, you would be wise to carry additional coverage in case you are sued after an accident.
People who have substantial assets should carry more insurance than the minimums so that your assets are protected if you cause a serious accident with severe injuries. There have been many cases where people with a lot of assets lose a lot of them because they caused an accident and didn’t have enough insurance coverage.
Get Legal Help With Virginia Auto Accident Laws
If you are in a car crash, it is highly upsetting and stressful. But you will be more prepared after digesting all the information on this page about Virginia car accident laws.
Please remember, if you are in a Virginia auto accident, you should stay at the crash scene until law enforcement arrives, and always seek medical attention immediately. You also should get in touch with your auto insurance company as soon as possible, and hire an attorney unless it is a minor accident without injuries.
If you do get in a car accident in Virginia, Lawsuit Info Center can help you find a skilled attorney in your area. You may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost earnings. Please use this website to locate a personal injury attorney to help you with your claim or lawsuit.
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