Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 8.01. Civil Remedies and Procedure
8/22/2017

Article 18.1. Tort Claims Against the Commonwealth of Virginia.

§ 8.01-195.1. Short title.

This article shall be known and may be cited as the "Virginia Tort Claims Act."

1981, c. 449.

§ 8.01-195.2. Definitions.

As used in this article:

"Agency" means any department, institution, authority, instrumentality, board or other administrative agency of the government of the Commonwealth of Virginia and any transportation district created pursuant to the Transportation District Act of 1964 (§ 33.2-1900 et seq.) of Title 33.2 and Chapter 630 of the 1964 Acts of Assembly.

"Employee" means any officer, employee or agent of any agency, or any person acting on behalf of an agency in an official capacity, temporarily or permanently in the service of the Commonwealth, or any transportation district, whether with or without compensation.

"School boards" as defined in § 22.1-1 are not state agencies nor are employees of school boards state employees.

"Transportation district" shall be limited to any transportation district or districts which have entered into an agreement in which the Northern Virginia Transportation District is a party with any firm or corporation as an agent to provide passenger rail services for such district or districts while such firm or corporation is performing in accordance with such agreement.

1981, c. 449; 1986, cc. 534, 584; 1991, c. 23.

§ 8.01-195.3. Commonwealth, transportation district or locality liable for damages in certain cases.

Subject to the provisions of this article, the Commonwealth shall be liable for claims for money only accruing on or after July 1, 1982, and any transportation district shall be liable for claims for money only accruing on or after July 1, 1986, on account of damage to or loss of property or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee while acting within the scope of his employment under circumstances where the Commonwealth or transportation district, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant for such damage, loss, injury or death. However, except to the extent that a transportation district contracts to do so pursuant to § 33.2-1919, neither the Commonwealth nor any transportation district shall be liable for interest prior to judgment or for punitive damages. The amount recoverable by any claimant shall not exceed (i) $25,000 for causes of action accruing prior to July 1, 1988, $75,000 for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 1988, or $100,000 for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 1993, or (ii) the maximum limits of any liability policy maintained to insure against such negligence or other tort, if such policy is in force at the time of the act or omission complained of, whichever is greater, exclusive of interest and costs.

Notwithstanding any provision hereof, the individual immunity of judges, the Attorney General, attorneys for the Commonwealth, and other public officers, their agents and employees from tort claims for damages is hereby preserved to the extent and degree that such persons presently are immunized. Any recovery based on the following claims are hereby excluded from the provisions of this article:

1. Any claim against the Commonwealth based upon an act or omission which occurred prior to July 1, 1982.

1a. Any claim against a transportation district based upon an act or omission which occurred prior to July 1, 1986.

2. Any claim based upon an act or omission of the General Assembly or district commission of any transportation district, or any member or staff thereof acting in his official capacity, or to the legislative function of any agency subject to the provisions of this article.

3. Any claim based upon an act or omission of any court of the Commonwealth, or any member thereof acting in his official capacity, or to the judicial functions of any agency subject to the provisions of this article.

4. Any claim based upon an act or omission of an officer, agent or employee of any agency of government in the execution of a lawful order of any court.

5. Any claim arising in connection with the assessment or collection of taxes.

6. Any claim arising out of the institution or prosecution of any judicial or administrative proceeding, even if without probable cause.

7. Any claim by an inmate of a state correctional facility, as defined in § 53.1-1, unless the claimant verifies under oath, by affidavit, that he has exhausted his remedies under the adult institutional inmate grievance procedures promulgated by the Department of Corrections. The time for filing the notice of tort claim shall be tolled during the pendency of the grievance procedure.

Nothing contained herein shall operate to reduce or limit the extent to which the Commonwealth or any transportation district, agency or employee was deemed liable for negligence as of July 1, 1982, nor shall any provision of this article be applicable to any county, city or town in the Commonwealth or be so construed as to remove or in any way diminish the sovereign immunity of any county, city or town in the Commonwealth.

1981, c. 449; 1982, c. 397; 1986, c. 584; 1988, c. 884; 1989, c. 446; 1993, c. 481; 1998, cc. 203, 820; 2007, c. 250.

§ 8.01-195.4. Jurisdiction of claims under this article; right to jury trial; service on Commonwealth or locality.

The general district courts shall have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear, determine, and render judgment on any claim against the Commonwealth or any transportation district cognizable under this article when the amount of the claim does not exceed $4,500, exclusive of interest and any attorneys' fees. Jurisdiction shall be concurrent with the circuit courts when the amount of the claim exceeds $4,500 but does not exceed $25,000, exclusive of interest and such attorneys' fees. Jurisdiction of claims when the amount exceeds $25,000 shall be limited to the circuit courts of the Commonwealth. The parties to any such action in the circuit courts shall be entitled to a trial by jury.

In all actions against the Commonwealth commenced pursuant to this article, the Commonwealth shall be a proper party defendant, and service of process shall be made on the Attorney General. The notice of claim shall be filed pursuant to § 8.01-195.6 on the Director of the Division of Risk Management or the Attorney General. In all such actions against a transportation district, the district shall be a proper party and service of process and notices shall be made on the chairman of the commission of the transportation district.

1981, c. 449; 1984, c. 698; 1986, c. 584; 1987, cc. 567, 674; 1989, cc. 121, 337; 1991, c. 23; 1992, cc. 111, 796; 2002, c. 645; 2005, c. 144; 2011, cc. 14, 702.

§ 8.01-195.5. Settlement of certain cases.

The Attorney General shall have authority in accordance with § 2.2-514 to compromise and settle claims against the Commonwealth cognizable under this article.

The chairman of the commission for a transportation district against which a claim was filed pursuant to this article, or such other person as may be designated by the commission, shall have the authority to compromise, settle and discharge the claim provided (i) the proposed settlement and reasons therefor are submitted to the commission in writing and approved by its members or (ii) the settlement is made in accordance with a written policy approved by the transportation district commission for such settlements. The Director of the Division of Risk Management may adjust, compromise and settle claims against the Commonwealth cognizable under this article prior to the commencement of suit unless otherwise directed by the Attorney General.

1981, c. 449; 1986, c. 584; 1991, c. 23; 1992, c. 796.

§ 8.01-195.6. Notice of claim.

A. Every claim cognizable against the Commonwealth or a transportation district shall be forever barred unless the claimant or his agent, attorney or representative has filed a written statement of the nature of the claim, which includes the time and place at which the injury is alleged to have occurred and the agency or agencies alleged to be liable, within one year after such cause of action accrued. Failure to provide such statement shall not bar a claim against the Commonwealth or a transportation district, provided that (i) for claims against the Commonwealth, the Division of Risk Management or any insurer or entity providing coverage or indemnification of the claim or the Attorney General or (ii) for claims against a transportation district, the chairman of the commission of the transportation district, had actual knowledge of the claim, which includes the nature of the claim, the time and place at which the injury is alleged to have occurred, and the agency or agencies alleged to be liable, within one year after such cause of action accrued. However, if the claimant was under a disability at the time the cause of action accrued, the tolling provisions of § 8.01-229 shall apply.

B. If the claim is against the Commonwealth, the statement shall be filed with the Director of the Division of Risk Management or the Attorney General, except as otherwise provided herein. If the claim is against a transportation district, the statement shall be filed with the chairman of the commission of the transportation district. If the claim is against the Commonwealth and the agency alleged to be liable is the Department of Transportation, then notice of such claim shall be filed with the Commissioner of Highways. If notice of such claim is filed with the Commissioner of Highways and is outside of any settlement authority delegated to the Department of Transportation by the Attorney General, then the Commissioner of Highways shall promptly deliver the notice of such claim to the Attorney General.

C. The notice is deemed filed when it is received in the office of the official to whom the notice is directed. The notice may be delivered by hand, by any form of United States mail service (including regular, certified, registered or overnight mail), or by commercial delivery service. If notice is to be filed with the Commissioner of Highways, it may also be delivered electronically in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner of Highways.

D. In any action contesting the filing of the notice of claim, the burden of proof shall be on the claimant to establish receipt of the notice in conformity with this section. A signed United States mail return receipt indicating the date of delivery, or any other form of signed and dated acknowledgment of delivery given by authorized personnel in the office of the official with whom the statement is filed, shall be prima facie evidence of filing of the notice under this section.

E. Claims against the Commonwealth involving medical malpractice shall be subject to the provisions of this article and to the provisions of Chapter 21.1 (§ 8.01-581.1 et seq.). However, the recovery in such a claim involving medical malpractice shall not exceed the limits imposed by § 8.01-195.3.

1981, c. 449; 1984, cc. 638, 698; 1986, c. 584; 1991, c. 23; 1992, c. 796; 2002, c. 207; 2007, c. 368; 2016, cc. 760, 772.

§ 8.01-195.7. Statute of limitations.

Every claim cognizable against the Commonwealth or a transportation district under this article shall be forever barred, unless within one year after the cause of action accrues to the claimant the notice of claim required by § 8.01-195.6 is properly filed. An action may be commenced pursuant to § 8.01-195.4 (i) upon denial of the claim by the Attorney General or the Director of the Division of Risk Management or, in the case of a transportation district, by the chairman of the commission of that district or (ii) after the expiration of six months from the date of filing the notice of claim unless, within that period, the claim has been compromised and discharged pursuant to § 8.01-195.5. All claims against the Commonwealth or a transportation district under this article shall be forever barred unless such action is commenced within 18 months of the filing of the notice of claim, or within two years after the cause of action accrues.

The limitations periods prescribed by this section and § 8.01-195.6 shall be subject to the tolling provision of § 8.01-229 and the pleading provision of § 8.01-235. Additionally, claims involving medical malpractice in which the notice required by this section and § 8.01-195.6 has been given shall be subject to the provisions of § 8.01-581.9. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, if notice of claim against the Commonwealth was filed prior to July 1, 1984, any claimant so filing shall have two years from the date such notice was filed within which to commence an action pursuant to § 8.01-195.4.

1981, c. 449; 1984, cc. 638, 698; 1985, c. 514; 1986, c. 584; 1988, cc. 778, 801; 1992, c. 796; 2016, c. 772.

§ 8.01-195.8. Release of further claims.

Notwithstanding any provision of this article, the liability for any claim or judgment cognizable under this article shall be conditioned upon the execution by the claimant of a release of all claims against the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities or against the transportation district, and against any officer or employee of the Commonwealth or the transportation district in connection with, or arising out of, the occurrence complained of.

1981, c. 449; 1986, c. 584; 1991, c. 23.

§ 8.01-195.9. Claims evaluation program.

The Division of Risk Management of the Department of the Treasury and the Attorney General shall develop cooperatively an actuarially sound program for identifying, evaluating and setting reserves for the payment of claims cognizable under this article.

1988, c. 644; 2000, cc. 618, 632.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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