Virginia Car Accident Settlement and Lawsuits
An overview of laws that could affect a car accident case in Virginia, including lawsuit time limits and rules on shared fault.
Drivers, passengers, and others who have been involved in a car accident in Virginia will want to have an understanding of the different car insurance requirements and state laws that could affect any claim or lawsuit over the accident. This page provides a summary of the Virginia-specific resources available on All-About-Car-Accidents.com, plus links to more detailed information.
Virginia Car Insurance Requirements
Vehicle owners in Virginia are not technically required to purchase car insurance, as long as they pay an annual $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
For vehicle owners who do purchase car insurance coverage, the following minimum amounts of coverage are mandatory in Virginia:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of a single person (a passenger, another driver, pedestrian, etc.)
- $50,000 total for the injury or death of multiple people in a single accident
- $20,000 for property damage (such as damage to another vehicle), and
- uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the policy purchaser's liability coverage limits, unless the purchaser requests lower UIM limits in writing.
For more details on car insurance for vehicles in Virginia, check out our companion article Virginia Car Insurance Laws.
Virginia Car Accident Laws
If you decide to file a lawsuit after a car accident in Virginia -- or even if you’re only making an insurance claim for the time being -- there are a few state laws to keep in mind, beginning with the time limit for getting a car accident lawsuit started (this is a state law called a “statute of limitations”).
In Virginia, the statute of limitations that applies to car accident lawsuits gives a prospective plaintiff two years to file a personal-injury-related case and five years to file a property-damage-related case. You can find the full text of these statutes at Virginia Code section 8.01-243.
If you don’t get your lawsuit filed before the deadline passes, it’s safe to assume that the court will refuse to hear your case when you do try to file. So it’s crucial to pay attention to the deadline, and that’s true even if you think your case is going to settle out of court. You always want to leave open the option of filing a lawsuit, not just for leverage in settlement negotiations, but also to make sure you can turn to the court system for a remedy if the settlement process isn’t promising a satisfactory solution.
Get details on other Virginia laws that could impact your car accident case in our article Car Accident Laws in Virginia.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Virginia
You might not find it necessary to hire a lawyer for every car accident claim you decide to file. For example, in a situation where the other driver’s insurance carrier isn’t disputing that its insured was at fault for the car accident, and you suffered only minor injuries, it’s probably fine to handle that kind of claim yourself as long as you’re comfortable with the process.
But what if the other driver’s insurer is saying that you caused the car accident? Or what if you suffered serious injuries and the insurer is balking at the extent or the costs of your medical treatment? In those situations, things can get complicated (and contentious) very quickly, and it may be time to discuss your situation with a local car accident lawyer in Virginia. Remember that most lawyers will take a car accident case on a contingency basis, meaning that the lawyer only gets paid a percentage of any successful settlement or court award.
A good attorney knows how to successfully navigate not just the back-and-forth of settlement negotiations with car insurance adjusters, but also the car accident lawsuit process if your case proceeds to Virginia civil court.