Can I bring a personal injury case against a hit and run driver in Virginia?


Yes. Virginia law allows you to bring a claim or file a lawsuit against a hit and run driver who caused a car accident, even if that driver is never identified.

There are several things that you should do immediately after the car accident to document your claim, however.

First, make sure that you call the police and get an officer out to the scene to take down any information that you have – license plate numbers, make and model of the car, description of the driver or of the property damage. Sometimes the police are able to find the hit and run driver based on a description of the damage done to the vehicle. In that case, you would not have to make a personal injury claim against an unknown driver.

Second, make sure that you call your auto insurance company and report the claim. Again, it is important to document your claim from the very beginning and to be specific about any details you know of the other driver.

Third, if you are injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible, just like you would in any other car accident case.

Finally, if you are seriously injured or if your auto insurance company begins to give you the runaround, you should contact an experienced Fairfax personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Does hiring a personal injury attorney for my auto accident case mean that I will have to go to trial?


Not necessarily. Though our firm prepares each and every client’s case as if it is headed for trial, the reality is that the majority of personal injury cases in Virginia are settled without going to trial. In fact, most Virginia auto accident cases are settled without even filing a lawsuit.

Before we file a lawsuit in your case, our attorneys will have reviewed all of your medical bills and records and provided you with an evaluation of your case. Then, a demand package is sent to the auto insurance company. In cases where liability (who caused the accident) is not disputed, the insurance company will typically make some sort of settlement offer. We then meet with our clients to discuss whether we will be able to come to an agreement with the insurance company or whether we should simply file suit and proceed with the litigation process.

How do I determine the settlement value for my Virginia auto accident case?


Determining the settlement value for a personal injury car crash case in Virginia is more of an art than a science. The value of any case depends on several factors including: amount of medical bills, amount of property damage, whether your injuries are permanent, whether you had pre-existing injuries, whether the other driver was intoxicated and the amount of your lost wages. If you have questions about the settlement value of your case or feel the insurance adjuster is treating you unfairly, you should consult one of our experienced Fairfax, Virginia personal injury attorneys.

How do I obtain a police accident report in Fairfax, Virginia?


In Fairfax County, car accident reports are maintained in Central Records for the Fairfax County Police Department. Instructions on obtaining your report are here. To get a copy of the police report from your City of Fairfax auto accident, go to you need to go to the City of Fairfax Police Department Records Station on Old Lee Highway or call Fairfax County Central Records Office at 703-246-2272. Accident reports can be released only to a limited number of people:

  • The personal injury attorney representing you;
  • Someone involved in the car crash;
  • The owner of a car involved in the auto accident;
  • A representative from one of the insurance companies involved in the crash.

If possible, you should obtain a copy of the accident report before meeting with a personal injury attorney in Fairfax. Bringing your accident report to the initial conference with your attorney makes it easier for him to determine whether you have a case, determine which parties are involved and submit the letter of representation to the appropriate insurance company.

I was involved in a car accident with a driver whose insurance coverage had lapsed. Can I still bring a claim for my personal injuries?


Believe it or not, we find that a number of drivers who cause accidents in northern Virginia do not have car insurance, either because their coverage lapsed or because they never bothered to purchase it in the first place.

Yes, you can still bring a claim for your injuries resulting from a crash with an uninsured driver. However, the claim you’ll be filing will actually be with your auto insurance company. When we tell people this, their first reaction is usually fear that their own auto insurance rates will go up. Fear not. By statute, an automobile insurance company is not allowed to raise your rates if you bring a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage for a Virginia car crash that was not your fault. If you want some more information, please read our guide on how to buy car insurance in Virginia.

I’ve had a couple of other auto accidents, but I haven’t had any sort of treatment recently, will these prior injuries impact my current car crash case?


Probably. Even if the pain you’re having now is to an entirely different part of your body and you haven’t had treatment in several years, you can bet that the insurance adjuster will argue that your recovery should be reduced because you have been previously injured. You can also expect the insurance defense lawyer to make the same argument at trial. Though it isn’t truly a valid argument, insurance companies use it all the time.

If your case goes to trial, one of the key issues before the Judge or Jury will be whether your testimony is credible.  If you have not been totally upfront about your previous claims, you will come across as trying to hide something.  This can be the case even if the omission has nothing to do with the case at hand.

Insurance companies have vast resources and access to intracompany databanks about your previous auto accident and medical treatment history.  You should assume that if you have previously made any sort of insurance claim – injury, property damage, worker’s compensation, etc. – that the insurance company knows about it and will use it against you.  The best thing that you can do is make sure that your personal injury attorney knows your complete medical history.

The degree to which your prior injuries will impact the settlement value in your case depends on the medical records in your own, individual case. However, if you have been in a prior accident – especially a recent accident – you will almost certainly need a Virginia personal injury attorney in order go get the type of recovery your case requires.

If my health insurance company pays my medical bills, do I still have a claim against the auto insurance company?


Telling you that they are not liable for your medical bills because your health insurance company has paid the bill is one of the many tricks used by the auto insurance companies to get you to settle your claim for less than it is worth. In Virginia, the amount paid by your health insurance does not operate as a “credit” or a “set-off” for what Defendant’s liability insurance carrier owes you. This is known as the collateral source rule: just because your bills were paid by your own health insurance company does not mean that the other guy is not also liable to you.

You will want to check with your health insurance company to see whether you’re going to owe them any money when you settle your auto claim, though. In general, Virginia is an “anti-subrogation” state. This means that if your health insurance company pays a portion or all of your bills, they cannot come back and demand that you repay them when you collect from the auto carrier. However, if your plan is self-funded or governed by a federal statute called ERISA, you will likely owe your health insurance carrier some money back. Check with your Human Resources director before settling your case to determine whether you might get stuck with a bill.

Is there a formula for settling Virginia car accident cases?


It would be nice if there were a formula for how to settle your Virginia accident case, but there isn’t. Determining settlement value depends on a variety of factors:

  • How bad was the property damage from the car crash?
  • What are your medical bills and what sort of treatment did you have?
  • How long did it take you to recover from your injuries (or do you have a permanent condition)?
  • How much insurance coverage is available?
  • Was anyone involved drunk or intoxicated?
  • Did the injured person do anything wrong?
  • Were there any prior injuries?

Personal injury attorneys joke that “back in the day” the insurance company used to just multiply the amount of the medical bills by three. This is no longer the case! Today, the insurance companies fight to safeguard every last penny. Insurance companies now spend small fortunes training their adjusters to look for every little hole in a case and to be skilled negotiators. You want someone on your side who has the same background.

The insurance adjuster wants to come to my house and write me a check after my crash. How much should I ask for?


Remember that, as a business, the insurance companies first goal is to make money. They do this by collecting premiums from the insureds and then settling cases as quickly and cheaply as possible. The adjuster on his way to your house is probably going to offer you something that sounds attractive today, but that you will regret after you sign the release and need more treatment. In most cases, the week after the accident is way too early to be settling a Virginia personal injury case. This is because you do not know the extent of your injuries or how long it will take to treat them.

In some cases, adjusters will attempt to get you to settle your case for “a sum of money plus your out-of-pocket medical bills up to a certain amount within the next thirty days.”  This is a loaded statement that requires some unpacking.  First, the adjuster is trying to shortchange you by offering only your out-of-pocket costs.  Under Virginia law, you are entitled to the full amount of your medical bills, regardless of whether your health insurance carrier has already paid them.  In some cases, this will be really problematic, because you might find that you owe your health insurance carrier back some money at the end of the case.  Second, the adjuster is putting two artificial limits on your case – caps on time and on the medical bills.  If the bills are too high or your treatment goes on for too long, you’re out of luck.  In short, you should never settle a Virginia auto accident case before you are finished with your medical treatment.

If you have already made the mistake of settling your case early, there may be good news. Virginia law allows people who settle their case within thirty days of the injury without help of an attorney to rescind the settlement. However, you must do so in writing within three days of signing the release. If you have made this mistake and are now regretting settling your case, you should call an experienced personal injury attorney in Virginia immediately.

The medical bills from my Virginia car accident are making me think about declaring bankruptcy. Would that affect my recovery in a personal injury case?


Yes. If you discharge some or all of your medical bills in bankruptcy, you are not entitled to turn around and claim them in your personal injury action.

If you’re concerned about mounting medical bills after a car crash in Virginia, we may be able to help. In the past, we’ve been able to get your medical providers to hold off on sending you to collections by signing an Authorization & Assignment, which tells them that they will be the first ones to be paid in the event that you do get a recovery from your auto accident.

This is not to say that, in your individual case, you might not be better off if you simply declare bankruptcy. If you are thinking about declaring bankruptcy, you need to talk to a bankruptcy attorney. We can only advise you of the impact the declaration would have on your recovery in the auto accident case.


We only take on cases we believe in and think we can win. Let us win for you.

No matter what you are going through, we are here to help. Timing is critical, so contact us as soon as possible to tell us what happened.


Law Offices of David L. Marks
10513 Judicial Drive, Suite 204
Fairfax, VA 22030
703-385-1983 fax

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