Virginia (VA) law requires car insurance companies to inform car crash victims and their lawyers how much they can recover under an at-fault driver’s existing policy. What this law, enacted in 2008, means in practical terms is that if you or family member got injured or killed in a traffic accident caused by someone else, you can learn how an offered settlement for medical care, lost wages suffering, and damages to your car, truck, motorcycle, van or SUV compares to the maximum amount of money that is available to pay the claim.

My colleagues and I have had to hold insurance companies to this legal obligation more than once, and it is a great tool for ensuring justice for victims of other drivers’ carelessness. When we learn that insurers have low-balled settlement offers or do not have contractual liability for paying a victim an adequate amount, we know how to best go forward with a claim or lawsuit.

Under the law, insurance companies have 30 days to respond to a written request for disclosure of their liability for injuries and damages caused by policyholders.

To ensure that response, crash victims or their legal representatives — who can be lawyers, family members or other people with legal authority to act on the injured or deceased person’s behalf — must send companies written requests that include the following information:

You do not need to fall victim to insurance company tricks and delays after you’ve already fallen victim to the mistakes, negligence or irresponsibility of another driver.