As a personal injury lawyer practicing throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia in the area of automobile accident law, I make sure to stay informed about any new laws related to car crashes and automobile insurance. I recently went to a Virginia Beach Bar Association meeting where they provide an update on what new laws were passed by the Virginia General Assembly for 2008. The most significant change for attorneys focusing on personal injury was a new Virginia statute that requires automobile insurance carriers to tell the attorney representing someone hurt in a car wreck what the amounts of the automobile insurance are for the at-fault driver under certain circumstances.
Before this law was passed the rule was that the insurance company that I was negotiating with on behalf of an injured client did not have to tell me how much insurance coverage the other driver was carrying at the time of the crash. Sometimes this would force me to file the lawsuit, instead of just negotiating the claim before going to court, in order to find out the answer to how much insurance there was. In a significant injury case it makes a lot of difference if there is minimum coverage which is $25,000.00 per person per accident in Virginia versus a bigger policy like a $100,000.00 or $300,000.00 insurance policy. In any case that has a potential value more than $25,000.00, the personal injury lawyer should find out what the available coverage is so that they can make sure to maximize the client’s recovery.
Under this new law, if there are over $12,000.00 in medical bills or lost wages, then the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer can force the insurance company, whether that be State Farm or Nationwide, to disclose the liability limits of the at-fault driver. This law should have the beneficial effect of increasing settlements and providing better information to personal injury lawyers and their clients. Now, in a car wreck case, I can find out what the insurance policy is for the defendant without having to file an unnecessary lawsuit just to get that information. This should help me to maximize the recovery amounts for people hurt in accidents and speed up the claim handling.