Meetings can be scheduled by appointment at various locations for the convenience of our clients. If you can't come to us, we'll come to you.
Baltimore, MD
410.576.4287410.576.4287
Tysons Corner, VA
888.540.2599888.540.2599
By Appointment Only
Bethesda, MD
301.470.7201301.470.7201
Washington, DC
202.659.0555202.659.0555

What To Do If You Are Involved In An Accident In Virginia

If you are involved in an automobile accident in Virginia, it is wise to consult with an attorney.  Some of the things you do or do not do, immediately after an accident, could end up reducing your ability to make an effective claim later on.

First of all, it is important to note that your safety and that of the public is of paramount importance. The law in Virginia reflects these priorities in so far as criminal law takes precedence. Therefore, do not flee the incident or you could be liable for certain criminal charges including obstructing justice. If you are not incapacitated, you should move your vehicle to the side of the road so that it is not in the way of oncoming traffic.

Common decency calls for you to attend to the injured. If you were the driver of the car that knocked someone, it would look very bad to a court if it appeared that you were more concerned about avoiding liability than helping someone who is injured. Leaving the scene without authorization can lead to a suspended or revoked driver’s license (Va. Code Ann. Sec. 46.2-894). Convictions for driving offenses stay on record for 11 years if the accident results in death or damages exceeding $1000 in value. There are exceptions to the general rule that you should not leave the scene. Examples include if there is an actual fire or imminent potential of a fire. Medical professionals can also leave the scene to attend to someone who is injured.

Reporting to the Law Enforcement Agencies

If there is an injury involved, it is imperative that the accident be reported to the police at the earliest opportunity. This will give the law enforcement agencies an opportunity to register the incident with the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. However they only report those incidents that involve fatalities or have led to property/injury damage that is likely to exceed $1,500. The information that is reported by the police will then appear on the driving records of all the drivers involved in the incident.

Even if you are not immediately injured, if there is significant property damage to your vehicle, it can help to report the incident to the police.

Make sure that you have exchanged accurate information with all involved drivers. If you are not physically able to do so, then the courts will not necessarily treat it as a negative indicator. That said, for your own protection, the most important information to capture, is the driver’s address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance policy. It is always advisable to try to independently verify this information, for example, by driver’s license, rather than just trusting the person who caused the accident to provide you with the correct information. Write down the tag number, and if you are able to, take some photos on your mobile device to document the scene or the other driver’s license.

Sometimes there is little time to record this information, particularly if the other party is trying to get away from the scene. If that is the case, then you should prioritize the vehicle license plate and the driver’s license number because an investigation into these items could help find the rest of the information.

The Legal Guidelines and Regulations

The officers that attend to the incident have a right to require proof of valid insurance or alternatively Uninsured Motor Vehicle fees. The car registration and driver’s license can be suspended if you are unable to provide this evidence. The officer will require you to complete form SR-22, which is in effect proof of future financial responsibility before the driving privileges can be restored. In any case, you should notify your insurer or they could disclaim the future financial responsibilities of the incident. Passengers who are older than 16 years must ensure that they report the incident within 24 hours even if the driver has not reported the incident (Va. Code Ann. Sec 46.2-895). In cases where you hit an unattended vehicle, you also have a duty to report the incident to the owner.

Claims for Damages

When the claim is straightforward and uncontested, it is possible to get an agreement amongst the stakeholders or parties. That definition includes the drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and owners of affected property. If an at fault driver for example, is willing to sign a written statement agreeing to fault at the scene, you should obtain a copy of such a signed statement where possible. In more complicated situations where parties cannot agree on fault, court involvement may be necessary.

If court involvement becomes necessary in your case, keep the following in mind:

  • Reporting Time Limits: Virginia operates a statute of limitations. You must therefore file a claim within two years of the incident if you are making a personal injury claim. If you are making a property damage claim, then you can file it within five years of the incident (Va. Code Ann. Sec. 8.01-243). Another exemption is a claim against the state which must follow much more stringent rules for notice of intent to sue as well as well as the actual lawsuit (six months for a city and one year for the Virginia government or transportation district).
  • Contributory Negligence: Virginia operates what many consider to be a harsh contributory negligence rule. That means that any fault on your part as a claimant invalidates the entire claim regardless of its merits of size. That is why it is important not to admit any level of liability without the explicit advice of your attorney. If the incident involved multiple defendants, then the total sum of their liability must come up to 100% with no contributory negligence on your part.
  • Compensation Limits: Virginia does not have a cap on economic damages for most personal injury claims. That means that the court has full discretion to award the amount that it considers appropriate in the circumstances. However two exemptions operate. The first is that medical malpractice claims must not exceed $2 million in value. The second exemption is the cap on punitive damages at $350,000.

Generally speaking, you should try to remain calm and focused after being involved in an accident. Where possible, try to follow the rules for reporting and making a claim and capturing the necessary information. While you may be tempted to leave the scene or quickly dispense with the formalities, you may later regret the decision if there turns out to be a liability dispute. A calm, rational approach in most non-emergency type accidents will often save everyone time and money and may make things simpler down the road.

Above all, if you have questions or are uncertain of what to do, consult your attorney before making any substantial decisions regarding your claim and responsibilities for the incident.

Read Some of Our Recent Client Reviews!

UniversalSniping
UniversalSniping
02:32 04 Aug 18
The lawyer who was initially handling my case parted ways with the company and I was assigned a new lawyer. This new lawyer was amazing! Christina Franetovich made me feel secure by double checking all the facts and notes in my case so that I was not worried during this transition. I was on disability from an a different accident while she was finalizing my case, and I had called and hounded her about the time frame of my settlement very frequently to the point that I felt guilty for calling so much. Christina was very sympathetic to my situation and assured me that she would do everything in her power to make sure the situation would be resolved quickly. She actually finalized my case before the time frame she had given me, was always very courteous and knowledgable on the phone, and I feel extremely lucky that she ended up handling my case because the previous lawyer was not as amazing with customer service as Christina. She also has a way of making you feel comfortable and builds incredible rapport quickly. I am going to highly recommend her to my friends and family. Thank you Christina!!!
Andrea Barajas
Andrea Barajas
15:13 16 May 18
My husband and I were in a car accident in August 2017. We contacted Bob Katz team for legal representation in our case. Kristen A. Turner was our paralegal and she was excellent. It took 9 months for us to receive our settlement and Kristen kept us updated throughout this entire process. She was very kind and patient as I happened to have several questions. She always answered my questions promptly and thoroughly. I would highly recommend this firm and Kristen if you are in need of legal assistance.
Richard Hose
Richard Hose
02:26 27 Jun 18
On Feb 23, 2017 I was in a bad accident on the JFX. I had been rear end by another driver. Almost immediately I felt pressured by the other drivers insurance. Everything from wanting a recorded statement; to failing to acknowledge responsibility. No one would answer my questions, nor would anyone take responsibility. I was frustrated and overwhelmed with everyone from the towing company, to the repair shop, to the insurance company nightmare I just entered. I reached out to Attorney Robert Katz and I was assured they were here to help. He provided with some much needed information, and told me not to worry, Sarah his Paralegal would be in touch to help get things moving. Sarah reached out as expected and explained their process and walked me through what my expectations would be. She as well assured me they were here to help me navigate the obstacles. What Sarah really did was so much more than help. She took the stress and burden off my shoulders and assumed ownership for handling everything on my behalf. I knew what to expect, and I received regular updates throughout the entire process. Honestly, I received so much more than I anticipated. Some of the most frustrating items to chase after are medical records and hospital charges. While I was trying to recall events and timelines, she had already obtained my records and information. She made this process so painless. I truly cannot say enough about the exceptional service she provided. Many thanks for all your help. Sincerely, Richard Hose
Claudette Pope
Claudette Pope
13:18 30 Aug 18
I was referred to Gordon & feindblatt in 2014 when my family was in an accident, Mr. Katz personally consulted with me by phone and he was very polite and professional, Mr. Carpuso, one of the litigation attorneys even came out to our home and went over our case with us, he made sure all of our needs was addressed and before he left our home that day I felt like we were old friends. that case was settled and I was very pleased, I have used this law firm twice since then and the results are always the same, I have nothing but great experiences with Gordon & Feindblatt the staff are courteous and professional and they get the job done but the one in particular that really stood out for me is Rebecca Slattery, she is truly a gem, she is so compassionate, she walked me through the entire process, she even checked up on me from time to time just to see how I was feeling and I really appreciated her kindness. I will use this law firm again and again for any future legal issue that may arise and I would highly recommend Gordon & Fiendblatt to friends, family and co-workers.
TheOfficalCeeandDee
TheOfficalCeeandDee
15:24 09 Feb 18
My experience here was great. My lawyer Rebecca was so professional and I love her personality. She handled my case well and kept me updated and made the process easy and always made me feel comfortable to call whenever I needed to know anything.
Next Reviews

Location: Tysons

Chris Shin
Chris Shin
18:23 20 Jun 18
They were very polite, professional. and informed current status of the case time to time. Great Job !!!
Jonathan Roane
Jonathan Roane
22:51 17 Nov 17
If you ever need any assistance with an accident or injury-related claim this is the firm you need hands down. These are the most professional and caring people I have ever met in my life. Two people you should contact are Rebecca Slattery who was actually my paralegal and also Allan Serrano. You will be in good hands.
Israel Thompson
Israel Thompson
00:52 06 Dec 17
Attorney MR Bob Katz outstanding Human being, went beyond and above to help me during my accident, he showed me tremendous kindness and support.Thank you so much will highly recommend him to anyone who needs help with their auto accident
Marta Kritselis
Marta Kritselis
16:19 01 Sep 17
Rebecca Slattery the paralegal She took care my case and she was very helpful throughout the whole process. I highly recommend to my family and friend the services of Attorney Bob Kats and there team .
Myong Kim
Myong Kim
22:04 31 Mar 17
I am grateful to Bob and Justin Katz and their team for working hard to get me the most money. They were very professional and easy to work with in Korean. I will recommend them to friends and family any chance I have.
Next Reviews