Frequently Asked Questions About Virginia Car Accidents
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Will posting details of my car accident to social media hurt my case?
In the past decade alone, social media has changed the way people communicate. Most Americans use social media to stay in touch with family, politics, and the workforce. And it’s not just in big cities, where 64 percent of residents have accounts. According to the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of those in rural areas use social media, too. With sharing, liking, and commenting so common, it’s no surprise that insurance companies now use social media posts as a strategy to discredit car accident injury cases. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important to know how to use social media and how posting could eventually lower your compensation.
Social Media Posts Hurt Your Legal Claim for Compensation
It’s become a normal practice for people to post any detail of life to social media. After an accident, it might be your first instinct to let those in your network know what happened, but that would be unwise. Increasingly, insurance companies are using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as a way to limit payments to injury victims. Often, insurers and insurance agents can use the following to question the legitimacy of your injury:
- Photos. After an accident, the insurance company may look for photos posted on social media that show you engaging in physical activity, out late for dancing or a drink, or even doing housework to cast doubt on your claim.
- Videos. As with photos, insurance companies want to find any reason to say that your injury isn’t as severe as you say. Videos are unique because they show an injury victim in action, and the events can be skewed to support an argument that you can actually walk just fine or that your neck doesn’t appear to be injured.
- Text posts. After an accident, you want people to know you and your passengers survived. However, turning to social media and updating your status is a bad idea. Insurance companies can use a text post such as “Was in a car accident—everyone is OK” to undercut the validity of your injuries.
- Check-ins. Again, insurers look for any evidence that you’re better than you say, so checking in to restaurants, a mini-golf course, a walking trail, or any other location is a bad idea.
- Activity history. Not only do insurance agents look at your activity on social media after the accident, they could also rummage through the past. There, an insurer might find evidence that you drink irresponsibly, use your phone while you drive, or engage in otherwise dangerous behavior.
Don’t Post on Social Media to Protect Your Claim
Although smartphone apps and online connections make social media a large part of everyday life, it’s important to maximize the worth of your claim during the time after an injury and before a payout. To do this:
- Don’t post at all. No photos. Not videos. No check-ins. If you can manage, don’t even log on to scroll through feeds.
- Ask friends and family not to post. Sometimes, friends and family members will tag you in their photos, status updates, or check-ins and hurt your injury claim.
- Change your privacy settings. Change your privacy settings to “private,” so only friends can view your profile and posts. If you get friend requests from the polite insurance adjustor you spoke with on the phone, deny it—and deny any requests you get from people you don’t know.
- Get extreme. The adage “better safe than sorry” applies here: consider deleting all your social media accounts if you can deal with doing so. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will always be there when you get back, and you can save important memories and photos to your computer.
If you insist on posting, keep to the facts. Don’t let emotion interfere with your chances for a fair recovery. Don’t go on rants because you’re angry, and don’t mention your physical condition. Finally, if you’ve reached a settlement agreement, remember to keep it confidential.
After a Car Accident Injury, You Need Legal Assistance
Car accident injury claims can be complicated and involve intense negotiation. If you’ve been injured, you need the help of a trusted personal injury attorney. The team at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi can guide you through the process of your accident claim and help you build a strong case.
From our office headquarters in Fairfax, we serve all of Northern Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland. To ask questions or learn more about your case, contact us by starting a live online chat on our website.
What are the minimum car insurance requirements in Virginia?
To register a motor vehicle in most states, proof of insurance is required. The minimum requirements for adequate insurance coverage can vary by jurisdiction. In Virginia, this requirement is liability coverage, which covers the costs of injuries and damages of the other individuals in cases in which you are at fault.
Along with liability coverage, Virginia also mandates that drivers have uninsured or underinsured coverage for a collision in which another party is at fault and does not have enough or any insurance to cover injuries or damages.
This minimum coverage for both of these insurance types is the same and includes:
- One person - $25,000 in injuries
- Two or more people - $50,000 in injuries
- Property damages - $20,000
If you are not able to acquire the minimum insurance for your motor vehicle, the state of Virginia offers an uninsured motor fee for the amount of $500, which allows you to drive insurance-free for up to 12 months. However, this fee does not cover any injuries or damages caused by you or another driver, and you will be fully accountable for covering these costs if you are at fault for an accident. Those who wish to utilize the uninsured motor fee for only a brief amount of time may have their fees prorated.
Penalties for Failing to Meet the Requirements
The Department of Motor Vehicles of Virginia monitors insurance standings through an electronic insurance verification procedure. If you do not meet the minimum insurance requirements and have not paid the uninsured motor fee, you may be subject to suspension of your:
- Driver’s license
- License plates
- Vehicle registration
In order to restore driving and registration privileges, you must pay a $500 fee, file a report (SR-22) that proves you have adequate insurance coverage, and pay to reissue your driver’s license. In these cases, the SR-22 proof of insurance report cannot be satisfied by the uninsured motor fee, and the minimum vehicle insurance requirements must be met.
How Fault Is Determined
Virginia is a fault state, so if you are found to be even partially responsible for an accident, you are considered to be at fault. It’s important to know that liability insurance only covers medical costs and damages for the other party when you cause an accident but does not cover the costs of injuries or property damages you receive when you are at fault. Consequently, you may want to consider purchasing an insurance plan that covers more than the minimum liability coverage. Similarly, if you are driving with no insurance and have paid the uninsured motor fee, you will be responsible for covering injury and damage costs for both yourself and the other party and might benefit from full automotive insurance coverage.
In short, the safest protocol is to seek insurance options that cover your own medical and property expenses, as well as damages and medical bills for the other party. Keep in mind that if you don’t purchase overall coverage, you may end up with large medical and car repair bills. Full coverage can also protect your assets when you are in an accident with uninsured or underinsured drivers who are unable to pay the price for medical and property damages, even if it is 100 percent their fault.
Our Expert Lawyers Are Here to Help
There is a time limit to file a law suit after an accident, both for the courts and the insurance companies, so it is important to file a claim quickly and begin settling your claim before time runs out. In the event of a collision, you may want to seek legal advice right away, as even partial fault could cause you to lose your claim. If you are involved in an accident and are struggling with an insurance claim, feel free to reach out to us for a consultation today.