Virginia is for lovers and its beautiful parks, beaches, and majestic mountains are ample reason to take to the state's highways. It isn't all beauty and romance though, accidents happen. If you have been involved in a car accident in Virginia you'll have questions about your rights and responsibilities. The following article outlines the Virginia car accident settlement process and the timeline for significant events.
Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Virginia?
Where an accident results in a person's injury or death they must immediately give notice to a law enforcement officer under Virginia Code, Section 46.2-371. Unlike other states, Virginia doesn't require a written report be submitted by the driver involved in serious accidents, although Virginia Code, Section 46.2-372 states that a written report is permitted, but not required.
Instead, other authorities, including police officers, medical examiners, and even auto repair shops may have an obligation to report evidence of accidents that they encounter in their course of business. Filing a written report may still be desirable, despite the lack of obligation, to rebut the statements of other documentation of the same incident.
Virginia Car Insurance Laws
Virginia requires that drivers maintain evidence of their financial ability to respond to a judgment arising from a car accident. Pursuant to Virginia Code, Section 46.2-368 this requirement may be satisfied by acquiring an insurance policy or by applying for a certificate of self-insurance.
Those unable to obtain a motor vehicle liability policy can apply to the State Corporation Commission to have their risk assigned to an insurance carrier under Virginia Code, Section 46.2-464.
Adequate insurance policies, as described in Virginia Code, Section 46.2-472 cover, at a minimum:
- $25,000 for injury or death of a single person in a single accident;
- $50,000 for injury or death of two or more persons in a single accident; and
- $20,000 for injury or destruction of property in a single accident.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Virginia?
Car accident settlements take place when you and the insurance company are able to come to an agreement about the amount of damage for which the insurer is liable. The settlement process is initiated when you file a claim with the insurer detailing your property damages, injuries, and other compensable claims. The insurance company then conducts an investigation into the claims. After the investigation is complete the company may submit a settlement offer.
If you feel the offer is unfair you may submit additional evidence and arguments along with a counteroffer. There may be multiple rounds of negotiation. If a mutually acceptable figure is found, you will waive your right to sue in exchange for the agreed-upon amount. If an agreement cannot be reached, you will need to file a lawsuit in civil court and pursue your claim through the court system. Settlement may still occur at any point prior to the court's judgment on the matter.
What is The Average Car Accident Settlement in Virginia?
Settlement figures are virtually impossible to estimate. The details of an individual's damage are highly variable and depend on many different elements. Some of the considerations involved in determining settlement amounts include:
- The extent of the property damage involved;
- Your injuries and the necessary medical treatment;
- Lost work or wages arising from the accident; and
- Your pain and suffering.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Virginia?
Legal actions are a use-it or lose-it proposition. Although you should seek a settlement before taking on the expense and complication of a court case you should also be aware that if you fail to file a claim before two years pass or you lose the opportunity to have your case heard in court at all. This time limit, frequently referred to as a "statute of limitations," is found in Virginia Code, Section 8.01-243.
Learn More About Virginia Car Accident Settlements: Speak to an Attorney
You don't need to puzzle your way through the car accident settlement process alone. A lawyer can help you ensure that you communicate with insurers and comply with state regulations. Contact an experienced car accident attorney in Virginia today to receive an individualized assessment of your case.