Filing a Tort Claim
Individuals who believe that they suffered damage to their property due to the negligence of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) or its employees may submit a claim to the VDOT Tort Claims Section (TCS) for potential reimbursement. TCS administers property damage claims in the amount of $5,000 or less. If you are seeking reimbursement for bodily injuries or property damage greater than $5,000, please refer to the Virginia Tort Claims Act (Va. Code § 8.01-195.1, et seq.) or consult an attorney.
TCS will review and assess the commonwealth’s liability for any alleged property damage and offer compensation for any claimant for damages incurred when supporting documentation is provided. TCS recognizes its stewardship role in protecting state resources by striving for efficient and timely service to citizens.
Please only submit a claim to the TCS if you believe that you were harmed by VDOT or its employees. Claims resulting from another entity (for example, the United States government, foreign countries, another state, a county, city, or private citizen) are not handled by the TCS. For such claims, you must contact the appropriate entity. Please note, VDOT does not maintain roads in certain cities, towns, or counties, and claimants may be referred to a local government entity for disposition of your claim. Also, VDOT does not administer claims involving contractors working on VDOT projects. If you believe that you were harmed by a private company working on a road maintained by VDOT, please file your claim directly with the company.
If you wish to submit a Tort Claim with VDOT, please contact the Customer Service Center (CSC) at 800-367-7623. The CSC will log your information and forward it to the local VDOT office for review. The local VDOT office will contact you within approximately five to seven business days with instructions regarding where to send your claim. To submit a claim, you will need the following information:
- A letter describing the date, time, location, and nature of the incident, including your contact information
- Two estimates of repair costs or proof of payment
- Any pictures you wish to include; and
- Any additional supporting documentation that you would like the TCS to consider in the determination of your claim
- Submission of a tort claim does not mean VDOT accepts liability and will pay the claim. VDOT is not an insurer of Virginia’s highways. Payment of a tort claim will only be made if a determination is made that VDOT or its employees were negligent.
- Any documents submitted to TCS will not be returned, please keep copies of everything submitted.
- Any documents submitted to TCS may be subject to public disclosure in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Va. Code § 2.2-3700 et seq.).
- If VDOT lacks the authority to administer your claim, VDOT will forward your correspondence and any accompanying documents to the Office of the Attorney General in accordance with the Code of Virginia.
Frequently Asked Questions
When can I file a claim?
Va. Code § 8.01-195.6(A) provides that “[e]very 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.” Please refer to the Virginia Tort Claims Act for any clarifications.
Can I submit a claim via email or the VDOT website?
No. At this time, only written notice of claims are accepted by VDOT.
Who should I contact if I need assistance filing my tort claim?
Please contact the VDOT Customer Service Center at (800) 367-7623 if you have any questions or need any assistance in filing a tort claim. However, be advised that VDOT employees cannot provide legal advice.
Does VDOT reimburse for every tort claim?
No, each claim is evaluated based on its own merits. Payment will only be offered to a claimant if TCS determines that VDOT or its employees were negligent.
How does VDOT determine whether to pay a tort claim?
Once the investigation has been completed by the local VDOT office, the findings are forwarded to TCS for review. TCS uses the investigation, the citizen’s submission package, and negligence principles to determine if VDOT will make an offer of reimbursement.
What happens if VDOT determines to pay my claim?
If VDOT determines that reimbursement is appropriate, a payment letter will be mailed to you with a release and IRS Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number). If you accept VDOT’s offer, you must sign the release, completely fill out the W-9, and return the forms to TCS. All documents must be completed before any payment can be issued. Once received, VDOT will initiate the process by which the Virginia Department of Accounts will issue you a check. Please note that it may take up to thirty (30) days for the Department of Accounts to issue your check.