Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 8.01. Civil Remedies and Procedure
3/24/2019

Article 7. Motor Vehicle Accidents.

§ 8.01-63. Liability for death or injury to guest in motor vehicle.

Any person transported by the owner or operator of any motor vehicle as a guest without payment for such transportation and any personal representative of any such guest so transported shall be entitled to recover damages against such owner or operator for death or injuries to the person or property of such guest resulting from the negligent operation of such motor vehicle. However, this statute does not limit any defense otherwise available to the owner or operator.

Code 1950, § 8-646.1; 1974, c. 551; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-64. Liability for negligence of minor.

Every owner of a motor vehicle causing or knowingly permitting a minor under the age of sixteen years who is not permitted under the provisions of § 46.2-335 to drive such a vehicle upon a highway, and any person who gives or furnishes a motor vehicle to such minor, shall be jointly or severally liable with such minor for any damages caused by the negligence of such minor in driving such vehicle.

Code 1950, § 8-646.2; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-65. Defense of lack of consent of owner.

It shall be a valid defense to any action brought for the negligent operation of a motor vehicle for the owner of such vehicle to prove that the same was being driven or used without his knowledge or consent, express or implied, but the burden of proof thereof shall be on such owner.

Code 1950, § 8-646.8; 1977, c. 617.

§ 8.01-66. Recovery of damages for loss of use of vehicle.

A. Whenever any person is entitled to recover for damage to or destruction of a motor vehicle, he shall, in addition to any other damages to which he may be legally entitled, be entitled to recover the reasonable cost which was actually incurred in hiring a comparable substitute vehicle for the period of time during which such person is deprived of the use of his motor vehicle. However, such rental period shall not exceed a reasonable period of time for such repairs to be made or if the original vehicle is a total loss, a reasonable time to purchase a new vehicle. Nothing herein contained shall relieve the claimant of the duty to mitigate damages.

B. Whenever any insurance company licensed in this Commonwealth to write insurance as defined in § 38.2-124 or any self-insured company refuses or fails to provide a comparable temporary substitute vehicle to any person entitled to recover the actual cost of hiring a substitute vehicle as set forth in subsection A, and if the trial judge of a court of proper jurisdiction subsequently finds that such refusal or failure was not made in good faith, such company shall be liable to that person in the amount of $500 or double the amount of the rental cost he is entitled to recover under subsection A, whichever amount is greater. If the trial court finds that an action brought against an insurance company or any self-insured company under subsection B is frivolous, or not to have been brought in good faith, the court may in its discretion require the plaintiff to pay the reasonable attorney's fees, not to exceed $350, incurred by the defendant in defending the action. This section shall in no way preclude any party from seeking such additional common law remedies as might otherwise be available.

Code 1950, § 8-646.9; 1975, c. 478; 1977, c. 617; 1979, c. 499; 1986, c. 296; 1987, c. 116; 1989, c. 348; 2010, c. 343.

§ 8.01-66.1. Remedy for arbitrary refusal of motor vehicle insurance claim.

A. Whenever any insurance company licensed in this Commonwealth to write insurance as defined in § 38.2-124 denies, refuses or fails to pay to its insured a claim of $3,500 or less in excess of the deductible, if any, under the provisions of a policy of motor vehicle insurance issued by such company to the insured and it is subsequently found by the judge of a court of proper jurisdiction that such denial, refusal or failure to pay was not made in good faith, the company shall be liable to the insured in an amount double the amount otherwise due and payable under the provisions of the insured's policy of motor vehicle insurance, together with reasonable attorney's fees and expenses.

The provisions of this subsection shall be construed to include an insurance company's refusal or failure to pay medical expenses to persons covered under the terms of any medical payments coverage extended under a policy of motor vehicle insurance, when the amount of the claim therefor is $3,500 or less and the refusal was not made in good faith.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, whenever any insurance company licensed in this Commonwealth to write insurance as defined in § 38.2-124 denies, refuses or fails to pay to a third party claimant, on behalf of an insured to whom such company has issued a policy of motor vehicle liability insurance, a claim of $3,500 or less made by such third party claimant and if the judge of a court of proper jurisdiction finds that the insured is liable for the claim, the third party claimant shall have a cause of action against the insurance company. If the judge finds that such denial, refusal or failure to pay was not made in good faith, the company, in addition to the liability assumed by the company under the provisions of the insured's policy of motor vehicle liability insurance, shall be liable to the third party claimant in an amount double the amount of the judgment awarded the third party claimant, together with reasonable attorney's fees and expenses.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections A and B whenever any person who has paid a fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register an uninsured motor vehicle pursuant to § 46.2-706 or any person who has furnished proof of financial responsibility in lieu of obtaining a policy or policies of motor vehicle liability insurance pursuant to the provisions of Title 46.2 or any person who is required and has failed either to pay such fee or to furnish such proof pursuant to the provisions of Title 46.2 denies, refuses or fails to pay to a claimant a claim of $3,500 or less made by such claimant as a result of a motor vehicle accident; and if the trial judge of a court of proper jurisdiction finds that such denial, refusal or failure to pay was not made in good faith, such person shall be liable to the claimant in an amount double the amount otherwise due and payable together with reasonable attorney's fees and expenses.

For the purposes of this subsection C "person" shall mean and include any natural person, firm, partnership, association or corporation.

D. 1. Whenever a court of proper jurisdiction finds that an insurance company licensed in this Commonwealth to write insurance as defined in § 38.2-124 denies, refuses or fails to pay to its insured a claim of more than $3,500 in excess of the deductible, if any, under the provisions of a policy of motor vehicle insurance issued by such company to the insured and it is subsequently found by the judge of a court of proper jurisdiction that such denial, refusal or failure to pay was not made in good faith, the company shall be liable to the insured in the amount otherwise due and payable under the provisions of the insured's policy of motor vehicle insurance, plus interest on the amount due at double the rate provided in § 6.2-301 from the date that the claim was submitted to the insurer or its authorized agent, together with reasonable attorney's fees and expenses.

2. The provisions of this subsection shall be construed to include an insurance company's refusal or failure to pay medical expenses to persons covered under the terms of any medical payments coverage extended under a policy of motor vehicle insurance when the refusal was not made in good faith.

1977, c. 621; 1979, c. 521; 1980, c. 437; 1989, c. 698; 1991, c. 155; 1997, c. 401; 2002, c. 631.

§ 8.01-66.1:1. (For January 1, 2016, applicability date, see Editor's note) Subrogation claims by underinsured motorist benefits insurer.

A. Any underinsured motorist benefits insurer paying such benefits to an insured, by way of settlement or payment pursuant to a judgment, shall have no right of subrogation against any individual or entity who settled with the underinsured motorist benefits insurer's insured pursuant to subsection K of § 38.2-2206 unless the underinsured motorist failed to reasonably cooperate in the defense of any lawsuit brought against him. An underinsured motorist shall be presumed to have failed to reasonably cooperate if he fails or refuses:

1. To attend his deposition or trial if subpoenaed to appear at least 21 days in advance of either event;

2. To assist in responding to written discovery;

3. To meet with defense counsel for a reasonable period of time after reasonable notice, by phone or in person, within 21 days of being served with any lawsuit and again prior to his deposition and trial; or

4. To notify counsel for the underinsured motorist benefits insurer of any change in address.

The underinsured motorist may rebut the presumption that he failed to reasonably cooperate. If the court finds that the underinsured motorist's failure to cooperate was not unreasonable or that the underinsured motorist otherwise acted in good faith in attempting to comply with his duty to reasonably cooperate with the underinsured motorist benefits insurer, then the underinsured motorist benefits insurer will not regain its right of subrogation.

B. The underinsured motorist benefits insurer seeking the cooperation of the underinsured motorist shall pay the reasonable costs and expenses related to procuring such cooperation, including any travel costs if the underinsured motorist resides more than 100 miles from the location of his deposition or trial. Travel costs may be considered by the court in determining whether the underinsured motorist's failure to cooperate was unreasonable or not.

C. If the court finds that the underinsured motorist satisfied his duty to cooperate with the underinsured motorist benefits insurer or that his failure to do so was not unreasonable, then the court may award him his costs in defending such subrogation action, including reasonable attorney fees.

2015, cc. 584, 585.

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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