What happens if I cause a Virginia car accident? Do I need to hire a lawyer and who pays for damages?

It only takes a second of distracted driving, or one error in judgment, to cause a major accident. It is so important to stay alert while you are driving, and follow all driving rules closely. If you caused an accident, there are some important things you should know.

Police Reports, Tickets, and Liability

After a car accident, you will likely be issued a ticket if you are at fault. Getting a ticket for an accident is a clear sign to both insurance companies that you are liable for the accident. In most cases, you are charged with simple negligence. Simple negligence means you failed to use the necessary amount of caution while driving.

Depending on the details of the accident, you could be charged with more than one violation, or even a felony. If this is the case, you are looking at criminal proceedings. If you want to dispute the charge, you will need to speak to an experienced criminal law attorney in Virginia.

Will The Insurance Company Settle or Go to Court?

Typically, if you were liable because you were issued a ticket, the insurance company will settle without going to court. They will probably not contest the claim too much, since you were responsible for the accident.

However, even if you were ticketed at the accident, there still could be questions about the other driver's liability. In Virginia, if you were responsible for the accident, even 1% at fault, you are barred from recovering damages. If the other driver contributed to the accident, even in the smallest way, your insurance company may take the claim to court.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

The short answer is yes. However, this depends on the nature of the accident or your particular insurance policy. Some policies offer "accident forgiveness" which will protect you from rate hikes if you only get into an accident once per period. This may or may not apply to your specific policy, so you will need to speak to your insurance agent.