Vermont Car Accident Laws

Whether you're in a crash due to bad weather or distracted driving, you’ll need to understand Vermont’s car accident laws to file a report or insurance claim.
Written by Mary Cahill
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you find yourself involved in a car accident while driving in Vermont, you’ll need to comply with the state’s laws regarding reporting the accident and submitting an insurance claim for damages in the aftermath of the crash. 
Car accidents are intense, unplanned events. Despite all your best efforts to avoid colliding with another vehicle or object—factors like icy roads or distracted drivers make it difficult to stay out of harm’s way. Vermont has specific laws in place that provide a guideline of what your responsibilities are when you get into an accident. 
To take you through the process of Vermont’s car accident law is
car insurance
comparison expert
. In this article, we’ll go over when and how you should report an accident, demonstrating financial responsibility, personal injury lawsuits, and how comparative negligence law works in the Green Mountain State. Then we can help you find the best
Vermont car insurance costs
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What to do after a crash: Vermont car accident reporting laws 

First things first:
after a car accident
, it’s important not to panic. Bring your car to a complete stop and take a moment to make sure you and any passengers in your car are alright. Call 911 in the event that you or someone else needs medical assistance
If you are involved in a traffic accident with another motor vehicle, Vermont law requires you to do the following:
  • Stop your vehicle (pull to the side of the road if you’re able to).
  • If necessary, provide reasonable assistance to anyone else involved in the crash.
  • Give your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle owner information to the other driver.
Failure to follow through on the above actions after a car accident could be viewed by Vermont law enforcement as a
. This is a very serious charge that carries fines of up to $2,000 or a maximum 2-year prison sentence. 
As long as you have not been seriously injured in the crash, you should also document the damages using photo or video evidence and take any applicable witness statements. You will need this information when you report the incident.

When to report an accident to the DMV

In Vermont, a driver must report a motor vehicle accident under the following circumstances: 
  • Someone has been injured
  • Property damage from the accident amounts to $3,000 or more
You will have no more than 72 hours to report the crash to
Vermont's Department of Motor Vehicles
by filling out a
report of a motor vehicle crash form
. You must send the report to:
Department of Motor Vehicles Agency of Transportation
120 State Street
Montpelier, VT, 05603-0001

What if the police were called to the accident?

Be advised that if the police arrived on the scene after the accident you will not need to fill out the crash report form or report the accident on your own—the responding officer is responsible for completing an accident report, just make sure you request a copy of it. 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Vermont's insurance laws

State law in Vermont obligates its drivers to demonstrate financial responsibility, as indicated by
23 V.S.A. § 800
The best way to prove you’re financially responsible is by carrying car insurance.
Vermont’s car insurance laws
are as follows: 
  • $25,000
    bodily injury liability
    for one person injured or killed in an at-fault accident 
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability for two or more people injured or killed in an at-fault accident  
  • $10,000
    property damage liability
    for property damage resulting from an at-fault accident. 
Licensed drivers in Vermont don’t have to carry
liability insurance
if they’ve filed evidence of having at least $115,000 of self-insured car insurance—but purchasing the minimum liability coverage is the most common way for drivers to abide by the legal requirements.  
Driving without insurance
is a violation of Vermont traffic law. First-time offenders who are caught driving without insurance can face being fined up to $500
If you are insured but cannot provide
proof of insurance
when asked by law enforcement to do so you could be fined up to $100 and will have 7 days to submit your insurance documentation. 
Recent data suggest that 8.8% of Vermont drivers are driving uninsured. If you’re in a situation where you get into an accident with a driver who is uninsured, it will be very difficult—if not impossible to get reimbursement after the collision. 
To avoid this disheartening scenario, it’s a good idea to purchase additional insurance like
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
. This policy will cover your losses after an accident when you’re unable to submit a third-party claim

Claiming damages after an accident: Vermont’s personal injury laws

In accordance with Vermont statute
12 V.S.A § 512
, if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver in a car accident in Vermont, you will have 3 years from the date of the accident to do so. Common claims in a personal injury lawsuit include: 
  • Pain and suffering, mental anguish
  • Loss of wages/business opportunities
  • Exorbitant medical bills
If the accident resulted in someone’s death and you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will have 2 years from the date of the individual’s death to file suit under the state’s statute of limitation code
14 V.S.A. § 1492

Exceptions to Vermont’s personal injury laws

There are certain cases where you won’t be able to file a personal injury lawsuit or claim damages after a car accident.  
For instance, if the statute of limitations passes—meaning you miss the 3-year window for a personal injury suit or the 2-year window for a wrongful death suit—you will not get your day in court. 
In the case of putting in a claim after a collision, there are also some limitations to be aware of. If you have been deemed as being more than 50% at fault for the crash, Vermont law prohibits you from being able to collect reimbursement for any sustained damages. This is part of
Vermont’s comparative negligence law

Who’s to blame: Vermont’s modified comparative negligence law

Vermont uses modified comparative fault to distribute the percentage of blame between drivers involved in a car accident. This is also known as comparative negligence. In Vermont, as long as you are found to be 50% or less at fault for the crash, you are entitled to receive compensation relative to your percentage of the blame. 
Here’s an example: Lin is glancing at the navigation app on his phone and ends up
running a red light
at the intersection and hits Reginald’s car—but Reginald was taking an illegal right on red when Lin struck him. When it comes to comparative negligence law, who’s at fault?
Seeing as both Lin and Reginald were in violation of traffic law when they passed under the red traffic light, each party shares a portion of the responsibility for the accident. Lin is found to be 70% at fault while Reginald is given 30% of the fault. Based on Vermont’s comparative negligence law, Reginald will be able to receive compensation for damages and Lin’s insurance company will be liable to cover them. 

How to save money on car insurance in Vermont

When you have a car accident in Vermont, your car insurance premium could increase by 10% afterward. To help you get the most savings on your policy, why not consult
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