There are 12 states that have no-fault insurance laws regarding car accidents, but Virginia is not one of them. Virginia is an “at-fault” insurance state, which means the injured individuals seek compensation from the at-fault party, not from their own insurance carrier.
A difficult needle to thread
With that said, determining fault is particularly tricky in Virginia, which, along with Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland and North Carolina, is a pure contributory negligence state. With this legal standard in play, if the injured party contributed in any way to the collision, they will not be able to recover damages.
Limits to the damages that can be recovered
If the injured party is without fault and proceeds to sue, there are ceilings the law imposes:
- If your fender bender was caused by a minor engaging in willful property destruction, you will only be able to recover $2,500 from the minor’s parents.
- If a Virginia government employee is the at-fault party, the recoverable damages are capped at $100,00 or the maximum amount available under the applicable insurance policy.
- If punitive damages are available because wrongdoing can be assigned to the defendant (as, for instance, in a DUI case), the award may not exceed $350,000.
The statute of limitations allows only two years to file most personal injury claims, so it is wise to speak as soon as possible with a skilled attorney experienced in this area of the law to know your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. Having the support that you need from someone with experience and knowledge may make a tremendous difference in your case.