Filing a Tort Claim
Note: Due to office closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, our service of process procedure has changed. Learn more here.
Individuals who believe that they have 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 for potential reimbursement. The Tort Claims Section 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.
The Tort Claims Section will review and assess the Commonwealth’s liability for any alleged property damage and will offer settlement for damages incurred when the circumstances and evidence support a finding that VDOT or its employees was negligent. The Tort Claims Section recognizes its stewardship role in protecting state resources by striving for efficient and timely service to citizens.
Please only submit a claim to the Tort Claims Section if you believe that you were harmed by VDOT or its employees. Claims resulting from another entity (for example, the United States government, another state, county, city, or private citizen) are not handled by VDOT. 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, you may submit an online claim at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ by selecting I want to submit a claim. If you want to submit a paper claim please completely fill out the tort claim intake form and mail it to:
VDOT Customer Service Center
1596 Deborah Lane
Salem, VA 24153
VDOT encourages all citizens to use the online claim process where citizens are able to view their submitted information and track the status of their claims. The processing time for paper claims may be longer than online claims.
Once you submit a claim, the Customer Service Center will verify your information and forward it for investigation. Once the investigation is complete, your claim will be forwarded to the Tort Claims Section for evaluation. To submit a claim, you will need the following information:
- One estimate of repair costs or a receipt for repair. (If there is no receipt for repair, a second estimate will be required if VDOT makes an offer of settlement.)
- Any pictures you wish to include; and
- Any additional supporting documentation that you would like the Tort Claims Section 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 will not be returned, please keep copies of everything submitted.
- Any documents submitted 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
How do I submit a claim?
When you create an account on myVDOT (https://my.vdot.virginia.gov), you will be able to file your claim online, track the status and receive email notifications. Your claim is not considered filed until all required information is submitted. It is your responsibility to provide all required information. After you successfully submit an online claim, an email verification will be sent letting you know that it has been received by VDOT.
Once an account is created, your dashboard will show your recent account activity, including account activity during the preceding two years.
You may also mail a written claim. A claim submission form with instructions is available here and must be mailed to VDOT Customer Service Center at 1596 Deborah Lane Salem, VA 24153. The processing time for mailed claims may be longer than online claims.
You may begin the claim process by calling the VDOT Customer Service Center at (800) 367-7623, but a written statement of the claim is required to be submitted either by mail or electronically, as described above. Your claim is not considered filed until all required information is submitted.
When can I file a claim?
Va. Code § 8.01-195.6(A) states 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.
What process does VDOT follow when administering a tort claim?
The Tort Claims Section 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.
After a claimant submits a claim, if it is the type of claim VDOT administers, the claim is investigated by VDOT. If the type of claim filed is not the type administered by VDOT, VDOT will notify the claimant. The investigation may include visiting the site where the incident occurred, reviewing records to see if VDOT was aware of any problems in the area prior to the incident and reviewing what steps VDOT took to resolve any problems that were discovered.
After an investigation is complete, the results of the investigation are forwarded to the Tort Claims Section. The Tort Claims Section uses the investigation, the claimant’s submission package and legal negligence principles to determine if VDOT will make an offer of settlement. The Tort Claims Section will notify the claimant of its decision using the claimant’s preferred contact method.
Claimants can view the progress of the claim submission online by logging into their myVDOT account.
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 the Tort Claims Section determines that VDOT or its employees were negligent.
How does VDOT determine whether to pay a tort claim?
The Tort Claims Section uses the investigation, the citizen’s submission package, and negligence principles to determine if VDOT will make an offer of reimbursement.
What is a contractor claim?
If the claim involves a VDOT contractor, the contractor handles the claim. The claimant will be notified by VDOT and contacted by the contractor. The contractor will investigate and resolve the claim. VDOT does not administer, resolve, or maintain an appeal process for contractor claims, and cannot offer any legal advice regarding these claims.
What happens if VDOT determines to pay my claim?
If VDOT determines that reimbursement is appropriate, you will receive an offer of settlement, release, and Commonwealth of Virginia Substitute W-9 Form (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number). If you accept VDOT’s offer, you must sign the release, completely fill out the W-9 and upload it to myVDOT or mail the forms to the Torts Claims Section. 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 30 days from receipt for the Department of Accounts to issue your check. You may also receive tax documentation regarding payment; please contact your tax professional if you have any questions.