In Virginia, if a court determines that a municipality and/or a municipal employee are protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, can I still pursue a personal injury lawsuit for injuries I sustained in a car accident?

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The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Maybe. In Virginia, the doctrine of sovereign immunity insulates municipalities from liability for negligence in the performance of or failure to perform governmental functions. The determination of whether an act or omission involves a governmental function for which a municipality is afforded sovereign immunity, as opposed to a proprietary function for which the municipality has no sovereign immunity, is very complex and fact specific. Furthermore, employees of municipalities can also be protected by sovereign immunity under the right set of circumstances. Click here to learn more about the application of the sovereign immunity doctrine to personal injury cases in Virginia.

If a person files a personal injury lawsuit against a municipality and/or a municipal employee as a result of a car accident and the judge hearing the case enters an order finding that the doctrine of sovereign immunity applies to the municipality and/or municipal employee, the injured person may be able to proceed with the injury claim in order to make a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage of his or her policy. In Virginia, all automobile insurance policies are required to include uninsured motorist coverage, which is coverage that protects the injured person in the event that the person who caused the accident is uninsured. Click here to learn more about uninsured motorist coverage in car accident cases in Virginia. Included in the definition of an “uninsured motor vehicle” in the Virginia Code is the owner or operator of a motor vehicle that is immune from liability under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia or the United States. The hypothetical injured person discussed above could perfect his or her uninsured motorist claim under his or her own Virginia insurance policy by proceeding against the named defendant(s), but any judgment obtained by the injured person against a defendant protected by sovereign immunity would be entered in the name of “Immune Defendant,” rather than in the name of any defendant protected by sovereign immunity. The judgment against the “Immune Defendant” would then be enforceable against the injured person’s Virginia automobile insurance policy under the uninsured motorist provisions of the policy.

Questions regarding the application of the sovereign immunity doctrine and the availability of uninsured motorist coverage are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact one of our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  We can assess whether a municipality and/or a municipal employee are protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity and whether an exception to the doctrine of sovereign immunity, such as gross negligence, applies to the facts of the personal injury case. As in all personal injury cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can also advise the injured person as to the value of the injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making a claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

Personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach serving all of Hampton Roads.

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