What can you do if a person sues you for a car accident?
Can you protect yourself in court? How can you make the situation right?
Use this guide to understand your options about insurance, the lawsuit, injuries, and other problems.
Contact your local Virginia legal aid group by calling 1-866-534-5243.
You can also look up your local legal aid group online.
Lawyers can help you understand your options and next steps for your specific situation. Legal aid lawyers provide free help to people who qualify.
Follow the legal process to deal with a car accident lawsuit in Virginia
Reach out for more help if you are dealing with a car accident.
Learn answers to common questions people have after a car accident
If you were a driver involved in a car crash, you might have to report it to law enforcement.
You must report it if:
If either thing happened, then the car driver should call law enforcement to share their name, address, driver's license number, and vehicleregistration.
You must also share this info with any one who was injured, the other driver, and the owner of any property that was damaged.
Find out what your insurance situation is.
Your insurance company is likely to provide you an attorney to defend you.
The company may also protect you up to a certain amount of money.
Just because you were in a car accident doesn't mean you have to pay for other people's medical care or other costs.
Another person in the accident may bring a lawsuit against you. But you can raise defenses to protect yourself.
You may be liable to pay the other person's costs. Or you may be protected from having to pay.
Even if the accident was mainly your fault, the other people may not be able to force you to pay.
Under Virginia law, if the person filing a lawsuit against you is even 1% at fault (and you are 99% at fault), they can't make you pay for their injuries.
You also may have other legal defenses. A lawyer can help you.
Simply because you were involved in a car accident does not mean you’re liable for another’s injuries. You don't necessarily have to pay for their medical care or other costs.
In fact, even if you’re primarily at fault for the accident, the person suing you may be barred from recovery. This means they will not be able to force you to pay them money or take other actions.
Indeed, under Virginia’s “Contributory Negligence” law, if the person filing the lawsuit is even just 1% at fault for the accident (and you’re 99% at fault), that person is not entitled to compensation for their injuries.
In addition to contributory negligence, there are other legal defenses – such as assumption of the risk – which may come into play depending upon the facts of the case.
Talk to your insurance provider, to see how they can help protect you against claims.
If you have purchased valid automobile insurance and you’ve been sued because of a car accident, your insurance company is supposed to provide you an attorney to defend the claim.
The insurance company is also supposed to protect you up to the amount of coverage that you purchased. The insurer should also (if at all possible) assist you from being held personally liable for any amounts owed.
If you don't have insurance, you will likely have to defend yourself -- or find a lawyer to defend you.
Unfortunately, not every driver has auto insurance. If you don’t and you are sued because of an accident, you may either have to hire your own attorney or defend yourself.
If you are sued, be aware that there are important court deadlines. Be sure to follow all rules, attend all meetings, and meet all deadlines.
Find a Private Lawyer: To connect with a private lawyer, call Virginia Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-552-7977 or go to their website at https://vlrs.community.lawyer/. Some lawyers charge $35.00 for an initial interview.
Contact Legal Aid: You can call the Virginia Legal Aid Hotline 1-866-LEGLAID (1-866-534-5243). This will help you find your local free legal aid group.
If you are in Northern Virginia, seek help from the legal aid group Legal Services of Northern Virginia, visit https://www.lsnv.org or call (703) 778-6800.
If you are not in Northern Virginia, or need to find other groups, you can find a list of Virginia legal aid and help groups here, for more legal and financial assistance.
Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of a person's situation. The information on this page cannot replace the advice of competent, local legal counsel.
Before taking action based on the information on this site, first check for up-to-date information with your local court system, and seek the advice of licensed local attorneys in Virginia (or your state).
This platform is not a substitute for qualified legal advice.
Please contact a lawyer in Virginia to help you with your specific situation. You can find a private lawyer by calling 1-800-552-7977 or find a local legal aid group by calling 1-866-LEGLAID (1-866-534-5243).
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