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Who Can I Sue After a Car Accident in Virginia?

In Virginia, a lawsuit is always brought against the at-fault driver and not against the insurance company directly. This rule is different than some other states which under certain circumstances allow you to name the insurance company for the at-fault driver as a party defendant. If you are hurt in a Virginia car wreck the insurance details will not be obvious in a case.

“Who can I sue after a car accident in Virginia?” is a common question our attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers hear from our clients. The proceeds from a legal claim can help victims pay their expenses and keep them financially stable as they recover from their injuries. In most cases, car accident victims file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer to recover compensation. If this does not yield a fair settlement, they can take their case to court.

Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. When they do, they can leave drivers and passengers with debilitating injuries. Recovery may take months or years, and medical bills can quickly pile up. Some victims are unable to return to work for the foreseeable future, resulting in a loss of income that only adds to the stressful aftermath of an accident.

A lawsuit may be your primary recourse to obtain compensation, but it’s not always clear who you can sue after a car accident. Should you sue the driver, an insurance company, or another entity responsible for the accident?

Virginia is an “at-fault” insurance state, meaning that car accident victims usually obtain compensation through an insurance claim against the at-fault party. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers can evaluate your case in a free consultation and make sure you know your full legal rights and options.

After a Car Accident in Virginia, Do You Sue the Insurance Company or the Driver?

One of the most common questions our clients ask is, “Who can I sue after a car accident?” The simple answer is that it depends on the facts of your case. 

The primary purpose of having car insurance is to protect you from the financial consequences of an unexpected car accident. Virginia law requires all drivers to maintain auto liability insurance or pay a yearly uninsured motor vehicle fee. Currently, the minimum acceptable insurance coverage

  • $30,000 for injury or death of one person 
  • $60,000 injury or death of two or more people
  • $20,000 for property damage

These numbers are set to increase in 2025. Further, you can always buy insurance above the set minimums, which gives you greater financial protection if a collision occurs. 

Maintaining a car insurance policy ensures people aren’t left high and dry after an accident. Your insurance company—or the other driver’s insurance company—pays for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages for people hurt in a collision. 

You initiate the process by filing a claim with the insurer following the accident. To make sure you are not taken advantage of by adjusters eager to deny your claim, it is best to consult with an attorney first. 

Suing the other driver may also be necessary if they simply don’t have insurance. An experienced car accident lawyer can help determine who to sue if your case does not settle. 

Bill OMara

Ask The Car Crash Experts -
Can I sue the state of Virginia after an injury?

Bill O'Mara, Personal Injury Lawyer

“Suing the Commonwealth of Virginia after you’ve been injured is possible. It can be complicated because there are many circumstances in which the Commonwealth of Virginia enjoys something called immunity, which can make it difficult or impossible to sue the Commonwealth of Virginia under some circumstances. Virginia did pass a law, though, known as the Virginia Tort Claims Act, where if the commonwealth of Virginia, through their employees or agents, causes injury to you, you can sue the commonwealth of Virginia up to a certain amount of money under certain circumstances. For example, suppose a Virginia Department of Transportation or VDOT employee driving a truck down the road were to cause an accident with you. In that case, there are some scenarios in which you can make a claim against the state for personal injuries. Again, it’s a very complicated area of law. It’s highly advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to attempt to do that. “

What If I Was Partly Responsible for My Accident?

Unfortunately, Virginia is one of the few states that follows a “pure contributory negligence” rule. Under this rule, you have to prove that someone else was 100% responsible for your injuries to secure compensation for injuries sustained in an accident. If you contributed to the accident in any way, you will be barred from recovering anything. 

That’s why it’s critical to seek legal assistance from a skilled Virginia car accident attorney if you are injured in a car accident. Our attorneys are standing by to push back when the at-fault party tries to pin the blame on you. 

Why Sue After a Car Accident?

Following a car accident, you will likely hear from insurers hoping to settle your claim quickly. Accepting the insurance company’s initial offer is rarely a good idea, especially if you have severe injuries and have not consulted with an attorney. Seeking legal representation can help you determine the true value of your accident, including future medical expenses, time away from work, lowered earning capacity, pain, suffering, and more. 

Insurance adjusters are paid to save their companies money, and one way to do so is by paying as little as possible to accident victims. An insurance company may make a lowball settlement offer, assuming they do not try to deny your claim altogether. Sadly, even your own insurer cannot be trusted to have your best interests at heart. 

Our experienced and compassionate attorneys will fight for you. We will use our legal expertise, negotiation skills, and knowledge of tricky insurance company tactics to hold the at-fault party fully accountable.

Most car accidents are caused by driver error, meaning the negligent party in these accidents would be liable for compensating injured victims. However, the success of your lawsuit depends on whether you can prove that they were at fault by a preponderance of the evidence. 

If the negligent driver doesn’t have insurance, it may also be possible to obtain compensation through your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

In some circumstances, you may also sue third parties. For example, if a vehicle’s defective parts caused your accident, you could sue the manufacturer or distributor. Or, if you collided with a government vehicle, it may be appropriate to seek compensation from a government agency.

How To Sue After a Car Accident

Preparation for a successful car accident lawsuit starts immediately following the crash. If possible, take the following steps after a car accident:

1. Document the Crash Scene

In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible if you’re physically able to. Use your phone to gather footage, ask witnesses for their contact details, and exchange insurance information with other drivers. Call the police so they can evaluate the accident scene and prepare a report. If you need immediate medical attention, get to a hospital for a full evaluation. 

The more information you have concerning the accident, the easier it is to prove your claim. That’s why it’s important to get professional legal support. The sooner you do, the sooner we can start gathering evidence before it disappears or deteriorates. 

Bill OMara

Ask The Car Crash Experts - What information should you exchange with the other driver after an accident?

Bill O'Mara, Personal Injury Lawyer

“After an accident, it’s advisable to always call the police. The police will investigate, which will help corroborate and preserve what happened that day. It will prevent another driver from trying to fabricate a story after the fact about what happened, which could complicate your ability to make a personal injury claim down the road. With that said, the law does not require you to report all accidents to the police department if both drivers agree to simply exchange contact information and insurance information; that is permissible under the law. This is usually, however, not advisable.”

2. Seek Legal Assistance

Speak with a Virginia car accident lawyer as soon as you can, especially if your injuries are serious. Avoid providing any written or verbal statements to insurers, who may later use them against you later on. Instead, explain what happened during the accident to your attorney. Your lawyer will assess the case and start the investigation process. They will handle any discussions with insurers so you can focus on your recovery.

During the investigation, your attorney will review crash footage, the police report, and witness statements. They will also review your medical records to understand the extent of your injuries and how much compensation you may be eligible for. Your personal injury lawyer will determine the appropriate parties to sue and begin the claims process.

3. Wait for the Outcome

Once your car accident attorney initiates a lawsuit, the defendant may attempt to settle the case to avoid going to court. If they offer a settlement, your lawyer will help you evaluate it and determine whether it’s enough to cover your losses. If it’s not enough, your attorney will continue the negotiation process. Ultimately, they can argue your case in court if negotiations don’t yield a meaningful settlement.

During this process, it’s critical that you take care of yourself. Your attorney will keep you informed throughout the life of your case, helping alleviate the stress you may be experiencing in the aftermath of your accident. Most car accident lawsuits take time, but you need to be patient during this period.

Rely on the Car Crash Experts at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers are the Car Crash Experts of Virginia. We’ve helped thousands of clients recover millions in compensation for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Let us do the same for you. We never represent insurance companies, and there is no fee for our services unless we win. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at our Hampton Roads offices.

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