Virginia plays host to those seeking a glimpse into the earliest days of our nation's history. Whether you want to walk along the streets of Colonial America at Jamestown or peek into a day in the life of our first President, Virginia does not disappoint. But if your trip to Mount Vernon ended in misfortune, you better prepare yourself for the possibility that you may not be able to recover for your injuries under Virginia car accident compensation laws.
Proving Fault: “At Fault” and “Pure Contributory Negligence” Laws
Recovering damages for injuries sustained in a car accident in Virginia is not as easy as in many other states. First, you must prove that the other driver was 'at fault', or responsible, for your injuries.
Second, you must prove that the driver responsible was 100% at fault. In other words, Virginia employs the contributory negligence rule which dictates that you can only receive damages if the court finds that you were in no way responsible for the car accident. This is a much stricter rule than the comparative negligence rules that exist in most states.
Check out the table below for more information on Virginia Car Accident Compensation Laws:
Statute of Limitations
• 2 years for most personal injuries (Va. Code § 8.01-243(A))
• 5 years for personal property injuries and for personal injuries to an infant (Va. Code § 8.01-243(B)
Limits on Damages
• $350,000 in punitive damages (Va. Code § 8.01-38.1)
• $2,500 for a minor's willful or malicious destruction of property (Va. Code § 8.01-43, et seq.)
• $500 or double the cost of a comparable rental car for bad faith insurance refusal of a rental car (Va. Code § 8.01-66)
• Double the refused amount for bad faith insurance refusal of claims under $3,500 (Va. Code § 8.01-66.1)
• Limits on claims against the government (Va. Code §§8.01-195.1 et seq.)
Pure Contributory Negligence (Va. Code §8.01-34)
In estimating your total damages suffered in a car accident, keep in mind that you can often recover for economic and non-economic damages. Economic recovery includes out-of-pocket expenses such as car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages from time unable to work. Non-economic recovery is tougher to estimate, but pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life are all potentially recoverable.
Damages from a car accident might include:
Most states impose time limits on how long you can wait before filing a claim, and Virginia is no different. With only two years to file most personal injuries claims, Virginia's statute of limitations does not let you waste any time. However, the time limit is five years for personal injuries to an infant and for personal property damage claims.
Virginia has instituted multiple damages caps that may limit the damages recoverable in your case. If punitive damages are available in your case, Virginia imposes a limit of $350,000 on punitive damage awards. If a Commonwealth employee is the party at fault, Virginia limits liability of Commonwealth employees to the greater of $100,000 or the maximum of any applicable liability insurance policy. Finally, if your car accident involved the willful or malicious damage of public or private property by a minor, you will only be able to recover up to $2,500 from that minor's parents.
An interesting twist is that Virginia specifically protects against Insurance companies denying claims in bad faith. If your insurance company denies you a comparable rental car while your car is being repaired, your insurance company may owe you the greater amount of $500 or double the cost of a comparable rental car. If your insurance company denies in bad faith a claim of $3,500 or less in excess of the deductible, the court may award you double the amount due plus reasonable attorney's fees and expenses.
Learn More About Virginia Car Accident Compensation Laws from a Lawyer
Virginia is old fashioned in many ways, and if you were injured while driving in this Southern gem, you won't be able to recover for your damages unless you can prove that another driver was completely at fault for your injuries. But you don't have to do it alone; speak to a skilled car accident attorney in Virginia to determine if you may be able to recover for your injuries.
Contact a qualified attorney.