Nothing could be nicer than a drive through the Green Mountains when the leaves are turning, but even the most careful driver can find themselves involved in a car accident. After a crash, Vermont drivers will need to know some important information. Should the accident be reported to the authorities? How do car accident settlements work? How long does someone have to file a lawsuit? This article provides information on these and other common issues related to the Vermont car accident settlement process and timeline.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Vermont?
Some Vermont car accidents must be reported to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. A written report must be mailed to the Commissioner within 72 hours of any accident involving a total of $3,000 or more of property damage, Pursuant to Vermont Statutes, Title 23, Section 1129.
Vermont Car Insurance Laws
Vermont, like most states, requires that drivers maintain evidence of their financial responsibility, typically in the form of an insurance policy that covers, at minimum:
- $25,000 for one person and $50,000 coverage for two or more persons killed or injured; and
- $10,000 for damages to property in any single crash.
Alternatively, a deposit in the amount of $115,000 can be filed with the Commisioner of Motor Vehicles in lieu of insurance. These requirements are found in Vermont Statutes, Title 23, Section 800.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Vermont?
The process for reaching a settlement in a car accident case will vary significantly depending on your individual situation, but the general process of reaching a settlement involves some common steps.
First, a claim is filed with the insurance company. The company then conducts an investigation that may involve verifying evidence that was submitted, interviewing witnesses, visiting the scene of the accident, reviewing police and other reports about the incident, and even reviewing your social media posts in some instances. After the investigation the insurance company may make an offer to settle. If the settlement offer is fair you may accept and, as part of the acceptance process, waive any other claims relating to the accident.
If you feel the settlement is unfair you may submit a counteroffer, additional evidence, and an argument for a larger amount, all of which may be best handled by an attorney. There may be several rounds of offers and counteroffers. If a settlement can't be reached you must then file a lawsuit in civil court, which has its own process for the submission of evidence and arguments and can render a decision ordering the payment of a particular amount or dismissing the claim.
What is The Average Car Accident Settlement in Vermont?
Average car accident settlements can be very misleading. There is an enormous amount of variation between accidents that can significantly change the settlement amounts offered. One significant factor, for instance, is the amount of insurance the responsible driver carries. Other factors considered in determining settlement amounts include:
- The amount of property damage
- The extent of your injuries
- The wages lost due to time off from work
- Your pain and suffering
- Your likelihood of success or failure if the case ends up in court
A review of the details of your individual claim may allow a local attorney to generate a reasonable estimate of the possible settlement.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Vermont?
Vermont requires that you start a lawsuit within a particular time frame following your accident. This is referred to as the "statute of limitations." Vermont Statutes, Title 12, Section 512 requires that lawsuits relating to injury or damage to personal property be commenced within three years after your accident.
Get Professional Help With the Vermont Car Accident Settlement Process
If you've been involved in a car accident a lawyer's assistance can be invaluable. They can help guide you through the process of ensuring that you're fairly compensated for your damages. Consider getting in touch with a Vermont accident attorney if you have additional questions or need representation.