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An Overview of Virginia Car Accident Laws

Despite the state’s recent measures to put an increased number of law enforcement officers on the roadways, a substantial number of Virginia car accidents still happen every year. Sadly, because of negligent drivers and distractions such as smartphones, more and more car accidents are occurring throughout the state. 

If you have been injured by a negligent or distracted driver, the law entitles you to collect financial compensation payment for the damages you incurred. Given the intricacies involved in filing and litigating a Virginia car accident claim, it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side during the legal process. Your attorney will ensure that you receive the highest amount of compensation possible for your injuries and damages. 

After being involved in a car accident in Virginia, it is important to understand the state’s car accident laws. No two accidents are exactly the same, and every victim can benefit from the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer to get the most out of their settlement. 

Our Virginia car accident lawyers have years of experience handling negligent and reckless car accident cases and have seen just about every type of accident imaginable. You can rest assured that they will work diligently to help you secure a just settlement or jury verdict that covers all of your damages. Call us at (888) 657-1460 to schedule your free consultation and find out what course of action our Virginia car accident lawyers recommend for you. 

Virginia Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

An Overview of Virginia Car Accident Laws

Virginia is home to more than eight million registered vehicles and six million licensed drivers. In 2022, those vehicles and drivers traveled roughly 87 million miles. 

Unfortunately, this high volume of miles, vehicles, and drivers paves the way for a high volume of car accidents, fatalities, and injuries. Every year, several thousand victims have their lives changed forever due to Virginia car accidents. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Highway Safety Office both keep an annual record of the total number of car accidents and their causes. Statistics recorded in 2018 show that:

  • Virginia saw 131,848 motor vehicle accidents in that year. 819 of these accidents produced fatalities, and 66,523 resulted in injuries. 
  • Over 7,500 of those injuries were classified as either serious or catastrophic. 
  • More than 80% of all car accidents statewide took place on non-interstate highways.

How Do Police Decide Liability for a Virginia Car Accident?

After a Virginia car accident, local law enforcement officers will respond to the scene and conduct an investigation. This will include taking statements from all drivers, passengers, and bystanders. The investigating officer will also examine any videos or photographs taken by anyone at the scene. 

Their objective is to gather enough information to be able to accurately fill out a Police Crash Report. This report will contain the officer’s written opinions and observations as formed by their investigation. It might also include certain evidence and details that help to prove liability, such as if the other driver was tailgating or speeding.  

The investigating officer will then file the report with their precinct as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Once the report becomes publicly available, you will need to request a copy.

Most police crash reports do not determine which driver is at fault. Even if your report does give the officer’s notes regarding liability, it does not mean the other driver is automatically liable for your damages, but it can be helpful.

Along with filling out a police crash report, the responding officer might also issue traffic citations. Traffic citations, informally referred to as traffic tickets, are written notices provided by law enforcement officers that accuse the driver to whom they are given of violating a traffic law.

Standard citations typically involve infractions such as running a stop sign or red light, speeding, making an illegal turn, or tailgating. If the driver is found guilty, they will most likely be fined.

While a traffic ticket is not indisputable proof that the other driver’s negligence was the cause of your accident and related injuries, it can be used as evidence in your case. If the other driver is found guilty, this is proof of liability and will help you and your Virginia car accident lawyer during settlement negotiations.  

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Liability for a Virginia Car Accident?

One of the first things you do after a car accident is file a claim with both the other driver’s insurance company and your insurance company as well.

Once your claim has been filed, the other driver’s carrier will assign your claim to an insurance adjuster. An insurance adjuster is an employee of the insurance company who reviews the police crash report, examines your medical records, and may even ask you to provide a recorded statement. After they have collected any information they deem necessary, they will determine which driver they feel is responsible for the accident and what, if any, defenses apply to the claim.

Then, if the insurance adjuster finds that its policyholder is at fault for the car accident, they will make you a settlement offer.  

The adjuster’s determinations regarding fault and the value of your damages are not carved in stone. You can, and often should, dispute them.

Virginia Auto Insurance Minimums and Collectability 

Another important factor in establishing whether you have a strong claim is collectability; that is, the defendant’s ability to pay the judgment. 

A default judgment or jury verdict is nothing more than a piece of paper if there are no funds to pay. Even if you win a verdict for several million dollars, it isn’t worth anything unless you actually receive the money. Provided that the defendant isn’t independently wealthy, you need the defendant to be covered by an insurance policy, such as from Geico or State Farm, to pay the judgment. 

During their pre-litigation investigation, a skilled Virginia car accident lawyer will identify all possible sources of insurance coverage. A full analysis should include first-party insurance coverage, like Uninsured Motorists’ coverage and MedPay, and third-party insurance coverage. 

Virginia law requires drivers to prove they are able to cover any damages caused by vehicles they own and/or operate. 

This requirement can be satisfied in one of two ways:  

  • Buying auto insurance 
  • Paying a $500 uninsured motorist fee

If you choose to purchase auto insurance to cover your vehicles, the minimum liability limits outlined in Virginia Code Section 46.2-472 must be met. Those minimums are:

  • $30,000 per person for death or bodily injury 
  • $60,000 per accident for death or bodily injury involving more than one person
  • $20,000 per accident for damage to property 

In addition to property damage and bodily injury liability insurance, you are also required to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. UM/UIM coverage provides property damage and bodily injury protection should an uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run driver cause your car accident. This may seem unreasonable, but nearly 11% of all drivers in Virginia are uninsured. 

What Damages Am I Able to Recover After a Virginia Car Accident? 

While proving fault is an excellent place to start, a solid personal injury claim requires a lot more. You also need to have sustained significant damages. 

A strong personal injury case is one that includes permanent or long-lasting injuries that have a substantial and detrimental impact on your day-to-day life. If your Virginia car accident attorney is able to convince an insurance adjuster, jury, or judge that your injuries have interfered considerably with your life, you stand a much better chance of collecting an equitable settlement.

In a personal injury claim, there are two main forms of damages: economic and non-economic. Together these are known as compensatory damages. 

Compensatory Damages in Virginia Car Accidents

Compensatory damages are comprised of economic damages and non-economic damages. Their combined total is your damages which, when awarded, are designed to put you in the financial position you would have been in if the accident never happened. Compensatory damages include:

  • Property damage: This includes the cost of vehicle repairs or replacement, along with any other personal items that were lost or damaged in the crash. 
  • Medical costs: This is compensation intended to cover the expense of any hospitalizations, doctor appointments, surgeries, orthopedic care, rehabilitation, therapy, diagnostic imaging, medication, palliative care (chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, etc.), prostheses, and transportation or mileage accrued by these appointments
  • Anticipated medical expenses: This covers the expenses associated with any pain management, medical treatment, home modifications, and prescription medicines you might require after you reach maximum medical improvement or settle your case. 
  • Lost income: This includes time away from work due to recovery, the loss of accrued paid time off, and lost work-related benefits.
  • Diminished or lost earning capacity: These damages cover the loss of work opportunities due to a permanent impairment preventing you from doing the same job as before your accident or forcing you to take a lower-paying position.  
  • Pain and suffering: This covers the pain, suffering, inconvenience, depression, emotional trauma, reduced quality of life, and anxiety, induced by the accident and your injuries.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Virginia?

Virginia’s statute of limitations for most personal injury claims, including car accident claims, is two years from the day the accident happened. In other words, you have until the second anniversary of your car accident to file a civil claim for damages. in car accident claims in Virginia.  

Keep in mind that the statutes of limitations will vary in the context of cases involving wrongful death, claims filed on behalf of minors, cases against a government agency, and medical malpractice. If you fail to file your claim before the statute runs out, you will be unable to collect any compensation for your damages, so consult a reputable Virginia car accident lawyer right away to determine exactly how long you have to file.  

Do You Need a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer?

If you were hurt in a Virginia car accident that was caused by another driver, you are likely entitled to collect financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and much more. The nationwide auto accident lawyers at Local Accident Reports can help you secure financial compensation that covers your physical injuries and emotional trauma. 

Call us at (888) 657-1460 to schedule your free consultation and find out what course of action our California car accident attorneys recommend for you. 

Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this accident.

If you or a loved one were injured in this incident, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Having your case evaluated by a lawyer immediately will ensure your rights are protected. The first step is to request a police report, and we can do that for you. 

 
Contact us today at

888-657-1460

to get the help you deserve. 

Local Accident Reports is here to provide you with valuable resources after you have been injured in an accident. In addition to your free police report, you can also schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys right now to find out more about pursuing compensation. If you any have questions at all about your legal rights following an accident, please don't hesitate to call. 

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Note: These posts are created solely for the use of Local Accident Reports. We have not verified the information in these posts as the information is gathered from secondary sources. If you have personal knowledge that the information contained in these posts is inaccurate, please contact Local Accident Reports immediately so we can make the necessary corrections or remove the story.

Disclaimer: We are providing this information to the general public as a resource to use in the event you or a family member are injured in a similar incident. Every effort is put forth to honor the victims of accidents, and hope the information presented helps others avoid the same type of accidents in the future. The photos depicted in these posts are not representative of the actual accident scene. Please contact Local Accident Reports at (888) 657-1460 to be connected with an attorney in your area who will answer any legal questions you may have.

Harvey Barbee is our chief content writer who also has nearly 15 years of experience as a practicing attorney. Combining his skillset as a strong writer along with his in-depth knowledge of the legal system, Harvey uses his talents to write informative pieces for law firms about a variety of topics that affect individuals. He enjoys helping people find creative solutions to their legal problems. When he is not writing or practicing law, Harvey enjoys golf, gardening, and spending time with his family in North Carolina.

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