Important Changes Were Made to Virginia Auto Insurance Law in 2015
One of the most important changes to car insurance law affecting people who are hurt in car wrecks took place in 2015. The legislature greatly improved the law related to underinsured motorist coverage. The changes in the new law completely alter the way some significant cases are handled in Virginia from the way that they have been handled up to this point during my 25‑year career.
The gist of the insurance law change that helps consumers if they are hurt in a serious accident comes into play when the at‑fault driver is carrying less insurance than you the person who got hurt has on their own insurance policy. That is what is referred to as underinsured insurance. For example if the person who injured you with their car was riding around with the minimum insurance in Virginia which is $25,000.00 per person per accident and you yourself were carrying $100,000.00 per person per accident on your car insurance then you get the benefit of the difference between your higher limits and the lower limits of the at‑fault driver.
Under the old system you could not accept an offer of the $25,000.00 from the at‑fault driver’s insurance company until you had reached a deal with your own insurance carrier under the underinsured motorist coverage. This never made any sense because it meant that even though the first insurance company wanted to settle with you you were not allowed to take that money without throwing away your right to pursue the additional insurance coverage. The new law changes that and allows you to make the deal with the first insurance coverage and take that money without losing the right to continue to pursue the second insurer for the underinsured motorist coverage. This is going to be a huge benefit to many of my seriously injured automobile accident clients.
One twist is the timing of the effect of the law. Even though the new law went into effect on July 1, 2015 it only applies to policies issued by insurers after January 1, 2016. So for the next year there will be essentially a phase in of this rule as policies are renewed across the state of Virginia over time.
This law change is something that I as an experienced personal injury attorney have paid a lot of attention to. These kinds of insurance rules applicable to serious automobile injury cases is what I do all day. However some people who are not as experienced or who may not keep as current in the law may not be aware of all of these changes and how they might affect your personal injury case. This is yet another reason that you should always seek out an experienced and specialized Virginia automobile accident attorney to handle any significant automobile accident case. The people who do this all the time are more likely to be able to efficiently handle your case, know what your rights are, and maximize the recovery for you.
If you have been hurt in a car wreck in Newport News, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake or elsewhere in Hampton Roads or Virginia, call our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation at 757.455.0077.