When you have been involved in a serious auto accident and have suffered personal injuries and property damage, you are likely thinking about your options for obtaining financial compensation. Depending upon the specific facts of your case, you may be able to obtain full compensation by filing an auto insurance claim, or you may need to file a lawsuit against the driver (or another party) who was responsible for the collision. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, a majority of motor vehicle accidents result from driver error, which often means that a specific motorist is at fault for the crash.
Since each case comes with its own set of facts and circumstances, it is critical to seek advice from an experienced Richmond auto accident lawyer about your options for seeking financial compensation after a collision. In the meantime, however, we want to provide you with some helpful information about options for obtaining the money you need to pay your bills and to compensate you for the variety of losses you have experienced as a result of the crash.
File a Third-Party Auto Insurance Claim
For purposes of auto insurance claims after an auto accident, Virginia is a fault-based or tort state. Accordingly, under Virginia auto insurance law, a person who sustains property damage and suffers personal injuries in a motor vehicle collision typically can file a third-party auto insurance claim through the at-fault motorist’s auto insurance policy. By filing a third-party claim, you will not have to pay a deductible associated with your own insurance, but the process can go a bit more slowly, and you may run into the problem of insurance limits (which we will discuss below).
File a First-Party Auto Insurance Claim
Instead of filing a third-party auto insurance claim, you might opt to file a first-party insurance claim through your own auto insurance policy. You will need to pay your deductible up front, but the process can go faster than a third-party claim, and you ultimately may be eligible for a larger settlement based on your coverage limits.
There are benefits and limitations to both third-party and first-party auto insurance claims, and you should work with your Virginia car accident attorney to determine which option is best for you based on the specific facts of your case.
File a Car Accident Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Party (or Parties)
There are many reasons that you may not obtain the full amount of compensation you need from an auto insurance claim. Most often, auto insurance limits prevent a person from receiving compensation to cover all of his or her losses. In Virginia, the minimum required liability coverage is $25,000 for one person, $50,000 for two or more people, and $20,000 for property damage. If your injury damages exceed $25,000, or if you were injured alongside one or more other people, insurance limits might mean that you simply are not eligible to receive compensation for the full amount of your losses through an insurance claim. You will need to file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties. In a car accident lawsuit, you can seek economic and non-economic damages to cover losses that include, for example:
- Medical bills
- Surgery costs
- Lost present and future wages
- Pain and suffering you have experienced
It is critical to pay attention to the statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit when you are going through the claims process. Insurance claims can take quite a long time, and Virginia law requires that most car accident lawsuits be filed within two years from the date of the crash.
Contact a Richmond Auto Accident Lawyer Today
If you have questions about seeking compensation after a motor vehicle collision, or if you need assistance with your auto insurance claim or car accident lawsuit, one of the experienced Richmond car accident attorneys at our firm can begin working on your case. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us to learn more about your options for obtaining the financial compensation you need and deserve. Contact Hundley & Johnson today to get started on your auto accident claim.