Vermont Car Accident Law, Lawyers and Attorneys
UPDATED: February 10, 2020
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Car accidents happen every single day.ï¿½ In a country with 4 million miles of highway within its borders, no state is immune from traffic accidents, and Vermont is no exception. Fortunately, there are many options available to protect yourself: seatbelts, airbags, auto insurance, and, as a last resort, the legal system. If youï¿½ve been in a car accident and are looking for help, youï¿½ve come to the right place. Of course, if the accident just occurred, or if you or someone else is injured, you should call 911 immediately. Donï¿½t leave the scene of the accident until youï¿½ve ensured that everyone is alright, and that all your required accident reporting tasks are complete. The information available here on FreeAdvice.com has to do with understanding your legal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Youï¿½ll also find information on issues ranging from claims and fault data to liability issues, as well as rules, laws and other information specific to the state of Vermont, and links to Vermont personal injury attorneys who will be able to evaluate your claim and offer advice on the best course of action for you after your accident.
Vermont Car Accident Articles:
How an Auto Accident Insurance Claim Works
What is Your Car Accident Injury Claim Worth
Who is at Fault?
Car Insurance and Auto Accidents: Are You Covered?
What You Can Expect to Recover for Property Damage in Auto Accident Cases
Auto Accidents: Options if Youï¿½re at an Impasse with the Insurance Adjuster
Car Accidents Involving Government-Owned Vehicles and Government Workers
Do I Need to Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident
Vermont Car Accident Lawyers:
Find an experienced Vermont Car Accident Attorney at JustAnswer Legal
Special Rules for Vermont Car Accidents:
Vermont Fault: Proportional Comparative Fault @ 51%
Vermont Car Insurance Requirements/Limits: Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability. The minimum level required by law is:
$25,000 per person for bodily injury
$50,000 per accident for bodily injury
$10,000 per accident for property
Proof of this liability insurance must be kept readily accessible in the vehicle at all times, including at the time and place of an accident, when renewing license plates, and of course any time a police officer or another government employee (such as Department of Revenue) asks to see such proof. Increasingly, insurers are directly asked by the government to provide the necessary proof themselves, though note that this does not waive your own obligations under state or federal law.
Physical proof of valid insurance is not required when registering a car, but you still should be prepared with the insurerï¿½s name and policy number should any forms require it during registration.
Vermont Small Claims Limits:ï¿½ $5,000
Vermont Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: 3 years
Vermont Auto Accidents Involving Government Vehicles: In most cases, government entities receive protection from private lawsuits under a legal doctrine known as ï¿½government immunityï¿½ or ï¿½sovereign immunity.ï¿½ This doctrine doesnï¿½t necessarily give the government complete protection from lawsuits, however. It may just impose extra notice requirements on you before filing suit. For more information on this type of government protection, follow this link to the FreeAdvice.com article on vehicle accident claims against government entities. Keep in mind that, depending on which government entity, there are frequently special requirements for how long you have to notify them of your claim. See below for some Vermont specific details:ï¿½
Requirements for Filing Against Government Entities:
1) For filing against the Federal Government: Use Standard Form 95 and follow the instructions on the back page. The form must be completed and submitted to the appropriate agency within two years after the claim accrues.
2) For filing against the State of Vermont: The law is clear in maintaining that the state of Vermont is liable for personal injury lawsuits just like any private citizen is, with the exceptions that 1) willful misconduct will exempt the employee from the stateï¿½s immunity/insurance protections, 2) there is a $250,000 maximum liability to any one claimant for each occurrence/accident, and 3) a nonresident may sue in superior court but the agent for service of process must be the attorney general (or his/her authorized representative). In general, any accidents causing over $1,000 in damages and/or resulting in injury of any kind must first file an accident report with the DMV. Be sure you have resolved any underlying issues with any suspensions or unpaid parking tickets you may have: thereï¿½s no limit in Vermont to how long your license can remain suspended, and the Vermont DMV is very strict on issues such as unpaid tickets, criminal alcohol case protocol, and license reinstatement protocol. The extra steps added to this process (for example, requiring filing of Financial Responsibility Insurance in criminal alcohol case) may push you over the very short time limit (measured in days to weeks) for filing notice claims to the government. See the Vermont Personal Injury Venue section below for Vermont car accident attorney contact information, and more information.
3) For filing against a Vermont county or municipality: The requirements vary with the entity, so youï¿½ll have to contact the specific county or agencies involved. In general, if you are planning to sue a municipal or district officer in Vermont, know that your right of action in court exists solely against the town or municipality that the officer works for, provided that the incident was truly accidental and took place within the scope of the officerï¿½s employment. The town must be named on the action itself and, by law, any defenses applicable to the town are applicable to the employee. See Vermont Personal Injury Venue below for more information on where and how to file a claim. See this directory for other public entities in Vermont.
In dealing with accidents involving government entities and workers, be aware that there are always special notices to be filed against the appropriate government unit responsible, whether in risk management, attorney generalï¿½s offices, or local agencies, and the time periods are limited in all cases: as little as 30-180 days after the accident to file a notice of claim. The rules for each jurisdiction may vary, so be sure to carefully check the forms linked above before you fill them out, and/or call the main office numbers of local agencies directly involved before filing your claim. Accident claims involving the government can be complicated; you donï¿½t want to risk losing your ability to recover damages for your injuries because of a filing error. Consult an experienced attorney right away to preserve your rights, and donï¿½t forget that you can post your case for free! Also seeCar Accidents Involving Government-Owned Vehicles and Government Workers.
Vermont Personal Injury Venue (Where to File Lawsuit): In the superior court located where the defendant (the person you are suing) lives, or where you live. If neither of those are options for you, the Court has the authority to change the location of a case to the jurisdiction necessary (i.e. yours or the defendantï¿½s resident jurisdiction) at its discretion.ï¿½ Non-residents may bring suit in any superior court in the state, as long as service of process is handled by the attorney generalï¿½s office (as agent). It may be easiest to try filing where the accident itself occurred, or where the defendant appears to have his or her place of business. If you are filing a claim against a government agency and are unsure of which agency is responsible, the most prudent course is to file a separate claim against each agency, or contact a Vermont auto accident attorney. ï¿½