In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a driver who has caused an accident can be sued for the cost of medical care, pain and suffering, and damage to property. A driver who is negligent can suffer serious financial losses.
Virginia’s financial responsibility law
The purpose of Virginia’s financial responsibility law is keep Virginian’s safe by keeping drivers off the highway who are not financially responsible.
There are several ways to meet Virginia’s state requirements:
- By registering your vehicle with the state of Virginia. You must provide proof that the vehicle is insured by a Virginia-licensed insurance company at the time you are registering your vehicle.
Your policy must provide the following minimum limits of liability:
- $25,000 – bodily injury, one person
- $50,000 – bodily injury, per accident
- $20,000 – property damage
- By paying a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee. Paying this fee only allows registers you with the state and allows you to drive while uninsured; it is not insurance. Payment must be made to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Choosing this option means that you drive at your own risk.
- If you are the owner of business vehicles. Contact the state of Virginia DMV for more information about how to self-insure if you own a fleet of vehicles for your business.
Proof of Insurance
The DMV monitors the insurance of all vehicles registered in Virginia. It employs several methods to do this including electronic auto liability insurance reporting, notification from law enforcement and information gleaned from police accident reports.
Driving under the influence
In Virginia, drinking and driving is a serious offense. To reduce the large number of accidents in which alcohol is shown to be a factor, Virginia is fast becoming one of the most “get tough” states when it comes to imposing penalties on those who drink and drive. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) measures .08 percent or higher in the state of Virginia, you are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI). While this is the national norm, the penalties for a DUI range from a mandatory minimum $250 fine and suspension of your Virginia driving privileges for one year for the first offense, to a mandatory minimum $500 fine and possible incarceration of up to one year. Drivers who are arrested and charged with additional DUI convictions will receive increasingly higher penalties.
If you refuse to take a breath test and are convicted of such, according to Virginia law, the court is allowed to take away your driving rights for one year.
Who is liable
Virginia is now a tort liability state. This means that the at-fault driver in a car crash must pay a victim’s medical bills and rehabilitation costs. The at-fault driver, in addition to being responsible to pay vehicle damages to you, is also responsible for paying medical costs, pain and suffering and loss of wages as a result of the accident they caused. If you are in an accident and found not to be at fault, the passengers in your vehicle as well the passengers in the at-fault driver’s auto may also sue for their medical expenses, their pain and their suffering, as well as any loss of wages.
Average annual cost of insurance
It costs less to insure your vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia than in most U.S. states. The average annual premium for Virginia auto insurance in 2011 is $1,237.00, while the national average of $1,561.00.
Insurance Information Institute
Virginia Bureau of Insurance