If you get into a car accident in Virginia, you should always contact your own insurance company and report it—no matter how serious the accident or who was at fault. Virginia allows vehicle owners to drive without auto insurance if they pay a $500 no-insurance fee, so there’s a chance the other driver will not have car insurance.
If the other driver does not have insurance, you will have to use your insurance to cover your injuries and vehicle damage. Even if the other driver had insurance, you may still need to rely on your own insurance coverage as you work to get compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Either way, you want to report the accident and your injuries to your insurance company immediately so you can get your benefits as soon as possible.
You should also understand how insurance companies determine fault and how that can affect your compensation so you know what to expect. You also need to contact an experienced auto accident attorney in Virginia right away to review your case, advise you of your rights and options, and deal with the insurance companies for you so you don’t have to worry about it.
What Are Virginia’s Rules for Fault in Auto Accidents?
As an at-fault state, Virginia recognizes that both drivers may bear some responsibility for causing a car accident. As such, both drivers’ insurance companies will need to investigate the crash, assess the evidence, and determine which party is responsible for causing the accident.
You will especially need to consult an attorney for accidents involving buses, taxis, rideshare services, delivery services, or commercial vehicles like trucks.
Dealing with Virginia’s pure contributory negligence policy is challenging and often frustrating for victims, but an experienced Virginia accident attorney can help.
Do I Report an Accident With Only Minor Damage?
By law, you must report any accident to law enforcement involving injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,500. You must also report the accident within 24 hours, and failure to do so can result in criminal charges.
Even if no one was injured, or you had only minor damage to your car, you still need to report the accident. For one, it will provide documented evidence regarding the accident, and many insurance companies will require that information as part of your claim.
Second, the accident report will contain important information about the officer’s opinion and findings of what caused the accident and which driver was at fault. The accident report may also contain accident reconstruction models and other information that can help prove the other driver was totally at fault, which is vitally important in obtaining compensation in Virginia.
Third, although you may only see a minor scratch on your fender, bumper, or door, you still want to report the damage in case the body shop has to replace a whole side panel or the entire door or bumper.
Additionally, the collision could have affected internal structures and components in your car you can’t see, or it could have compromised important safety systems or damaged wiring. You won’t know until you get an estimate, and you don’t want to be left with a large repair bill you must pay out of pocket.
If the other driver was at-fault, you also need to get their insurance information and have an attorney file a claim with their insurance company and deal with them throughout the process.
You should not talk with the other party’s insurance company because they may ask questions in a way to blame you. They may also undervalue your claim or even refuse to cover your property damage or injuries. An attorney will understand these tactics and can fight to get the compensation you need and deserve.
File Your Claim Quickly
Virginia’s statute of limitations gives you five years from your injury to file a lawsuit in court. However, insurance companies often have their own deadlines for submitting accident claims, and you may have only 30 days from the accident to file your claim with them.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Since Virginia does not require drivers to have car insurance if they pay a $500 no-insurance fee, the state does require insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist protection to their policyholders. Also, drivers who do not pay the $500 fee must carry auto insurance to drive legally in the state or face legal repercussions.
Virginia currently requires drivers to have the following minimum liability insurance coverage:
- $30,000 for injury or death of one person
- $60,000 for injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage
Policy limits will increase in 2025, and you can always purchase coverage with higher limits. If you have more coverage on your policy than the person who hit you, your insurance company will pay for the amount over the at-fault driver’s policy limit if your damages exceed it.
For example, say someone hit you on West Broad Street in Richmond, and they carried only the minimum liability limits. Their insurance company would pay you $30,000 for your injury and $20,000 for your vehicle damage. However, your damages total $100,000 for injuries and property damage.
If you had increased coverage, and your limits are $100,000 for injury and $50,000 for property damage, for instance, your insurance company would make up the difference. Your insurance company would then likely go after the at-fault driver (or their insurance company) for reimbursement.
Get a Car Accident Attorney Immediately
You want to report your accident immediately to your insurance company no matter how serious or who was at fault. You should have an attorney file your claim with the other party’s insurance company and help you deal with your own insurance company.
You do not want to unintentionally admit fault, miss deadlines, or make any mistakes that can affect your ability to get compensation, so contact a reputed Virginia personal injury law firm‘s attorney promptly for a complete evaluation of your case.