Virginia is not a “no-fault” state when it comes to financial responsibility for car accidents but follows a traditional “fault”-based system. This means that the driver responsible for causing an accident must pay for the resulting damages. Our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers see these accidents every day and wanted to simplify the rule for Virginians.
The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault States
In a fault-based state, like Virginia, the individual responsible for a car accident is on the hook to pay or have their auto insurance coverage pay for any medical, injury, or property damage costs. As a result, drivers are required to purchase liability coverage in the event they cause an accident. However, it is not always so straightforward when it comes to filing an insurance claim. If the at-fault driver denies they caused the crash, there is the issue of determining which driver is to blame. The insurance company will then assign a percentage of fault to each party based on their degree of contribution to the collision. If the other driver is to blame, you have the right to seek the total amount of compensation you are entitled to from their insurance company or by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
On the other hand, there is the option to purchase additional auto coverage that allows you to file a claim with your own insurer to cover your costs of an accident. For example, if you have collision coverage, you can file a claim with your insurer no matter which party was to blame. If the other driver was at-fault, your insurer will pursue the compensation they payout on your claim from the other party’s insurer.
In a no-fault state, drivers must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, also referred to as no-fault insurance. With this coverage, each driver will file a claim with their own auto insurance company regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident. There are only a limited number of circumstances in which an accident victim can step outside of the no-fault system and seek compensation directly from the other driver or their insurance company.
Virginia’s Insurance Requirements
Drivers are required to carry minimum amounts of liability auto insurance. The minimum amounts required in Virginia are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person per accident
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident.
- $20,000 for property damage per accident
The policy will cover the losses that other drivers or passengers suffer when you cause an accident, up to your policy’s limits. Keep in mind that liability insurance will not pay for your vehicle damage or injuries. As previously mentioned, you will have to purchase additional optional coverage to apply to your losses.
What If the Accident Was Partly My Fault?
If you are partially to blame for your car accident, Virginia’s contributory negligence doctrine will prevent you from recovering any compensation. Virginia is only one of four states that still use this harsh doctrine law that bars victims from obtaining compensation even if they were only 1% to blame. Most states have adopted a form of comparative negligence, which reduces your financial recovery based on your percentage of fault.