Is the insurance company low-balling me?


Is the insurance company low-balling me? I was in an auto accident in Arlington, Virginia. I was stopped at a red light. I was hit from behind. The lady who hit me had reached down to answer her cell phone. She was driving a company car. She got a ticket for failure to stop and my car was totaled. I was thrown forward in my seat and the seat belt caught me around the throat. I was stunned, and didn’t think I needed to go to the hospital. I missed several days of work and am just now beginning to feel normal again. I went to my primary care doctor and she took some x-rays and suggested keep seeing my chiropractor. I am ready to settle with the Company. They paid for my car, agreed to pay my co-pay and pay me for lost income. My question is there any other compensation that I should ask for?


Yes, the insurance company is low-balling you.

First, if you are only “just now” beginning to feel normal again, it is probably too soon to settle your claim. Remember that, in Virginia, once you have settled your claim and signed a release, you can never collect another dime for your claim. For that reason, it is very important to know that you have made a full recovery or that your doctor tells you that you are “as good as you’re going to get” before you settle your claim. The insurance company is probably pressing you to settle because they know that the quicker they can get you to settle, the more money they’ll save. Unless you’re running up against the statute of limitations (two years in Virginia), there really is no rush.

Second, the insurance company is legally obligated to pay the entirety of your medical bills which were caused in the accident – not just your co-pays. They are also obligated to compensate you with a reasonable amount of money for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that you’ve been put through.

Does filing a personal injury claim in Virginia mean that I have to go to trial in the courthouse?


No. Simply bringing a personal injury claim does not mean, in and of itself, that you are headed for the courthouse. The vast majority of cases settle without even having to file a lawsuit. However, in cases where the insurance company is unreasonable, you may be forced to file a lawsuit and even take your case to trial in order to recover what you are entitled to under the law.

At the Law Offices of David L. Marks, we approach every case from the beginning as if it were to go to trial. That way, we are not surprised when we get there.

How does Fairfax County define “dangerous and vicious dog?”


Each county in Virginia has its own set of local laws regulating what a dangerous and/or vicious dog is. In Fairfax, a “vicious dog” is one who has (1) killed a person, (2) inflicted serious injury to a person (multiple bites, seroiusly disfigured, seriously impaired the health of, or seriously impaired the bodily function of) or (3) continues to exhibit behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court that the dog is dangerous. A “dangerous dog” is one that has (1) bitten, (2) attacked, (3) inflicted injury on a person or companion animal or (4) killed a companion animal. Virginia keeps a directory of all dogs that have been labeled “dangerous” and it can be found at

What is MedPay?

Medical Expense Payments Benefits, also known as “MedPay,” is an optional insurance coverage that is offered in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  MedPay is essentially a supplemental health insurance policy that pays for your medical bills when you have been in a car crash or motorcycle accident.

MedPay is a no-fault provision.  It pays out if you are either hit by another driver or are the one who caused the accident.

MedPay is a good purchase even if you have regular health insurance because it can help you maintain a steady cashflow while you are waiting for your case to settle.  You will not recieve any money from the insurance company of the driver who hit you until you have actually settled your case.  Therefore, MedPay can be used to pay your co-pays as they come in or to offset some outstanding healthcare balances.

Additionally, the MedPay carrier does not have a right to be repaid at the end of the case if you ultimately get a recovery from the liability carrier.

We typically advise that our clients carry at least $5,000 in MedPay coverage.  Remember that, under most auto policies, the amount of MedPay that you carry is multiplied by the number of vehicles on the policy.  So, if you have a $5,000 policy and three vehicles, you have $15,000 in coverage.

Is Virginia a compulsory car insurance state? Can you drive in Virginia without auto insurance?

Most people are surprised to learn that Virginia is not a compulsory insurance state. This means that it is perfectly legal to drive a car in Virginia without any liability insurance at all – either for bodily injury or for property damage.

Most people believe that Virginia has a minimum auto policy requirement of $25,000. This is only partially true. A $25,000 liability for bodily injury (per person) is the lowest amount that you can purchase a Virginia car insurance policy for. However, if you pay $500 a year to the state’s Uninsured Motorist Fund, you do not have to purchase any insurance at all from GEICO, Allstate or Nationwide.

What does this mean for you?

It means you better protect yourself from the people out there trying to save money by not carrying liability insurance. You can do this by purchasing a decent amount of Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage on your own auto policy. Read our article on how to buy auto insurance in Virginia for more information.

How much auto insurance should I purchase in Virginia?

When you’re making the decision about how much car insurance to purchase, it’s best to over-purchase. The vast majority of auto accident cases are settled for under $100,000. But you do not want to have the case with $200,000 in medical bills and only $100,000 of coverage.

In Virginia, the minimum amount of insurance coverage you can purchase is $25,000 (and many drivers have these cheap policies). Therefore, it is your responsibility to protect yourself by having adequate uninsured/underinsured coverage.

We typically recommend that you purchase at least $300,000 in coverage (per person, not per accident). In addition, even if you have health insurance, we recommend that you purchase at least $5,000 in medical expense payments benefits coverage to help you out with co-pays and deductibles.

If you have any questions about how to read your auto insurance policy or how much insurance coverage is right for you, we are happy to answer those for you.

Are punitive damages available in Virginia cases where I am hit by a texting driver?


Texting has certainly become a major problems on the roads. But you probably cannot get punitive damages from the other driver under Virginia law.

“Punitive damages” are damages that are designed to punish drivers. They are compensation for injured victims over and above the medical bills, lost wages, and pain, suffering, and inconvenience that would be available in a typical case. Punitive damages are reserved for accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Punitive damages are also available when a person has intentionally caused an injury or demonstrated such a willful and wanton attitude toward whether or not they caused injury that punishment is appropriate. The vast majority of texting cases do not rise to this level. A driver who is texting might be negligent, but they are probably not out there intentionally trying to hurt you.

Can I be found liable for a Virginia car crash where I am rear-ended?


It’s hard to imagine a set of facts that makes you 100% liable if you are rear-ended in a Fairfax or Virginia car crash. An argument could be made that if you were driving on 495 and slammed on the brakes for no reason, you might be liable for the crash.

If the auto insurance company is making noise about you being at fault for a Virginia car crash where you hit from behind, the more likely scenario is that they believe you might have contributed to the crash. Virginia has a harsh law called Contributory Negligence. What this law states is that if a driver contributes to the cause of the crash – by 10%, 1% or even .01%, then they cannot recover a dime for their injuries or for the damage to their car. The insurance company might be arguing that you stopped too quickly, that you didn’t signal before slowing down, or that you knew your brake lights were out. In any of these cases, it is possible that you might be found to have been negligent.

If the insurance company denies your claim for injuries because of contributory negligence, you should consult a Fairfax car crash attorney about your options.

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.


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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