Virginia Car Crash Statistics – 2009

In 2009, though the number of drivers on Virginia roads increased by half a percent over 2008, the number of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities were all down.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is reporting that in 2009, there were 116,744 traffic accidents. This is a decrease of a whopping 13.7% from 2008. In addition, traffic injuries were down nearly 9%, with only 62,976 reported. Finally, traffic fatalities were down almost 8%, with 756 traffic deaths.

Of those accidents, more than 10% occurred in Fairfax County, which had 14,233 accidents, 37 fatalities, and 7,590 injuries.

The most frequent cause of accidents in Virginia is following too closely, which often leads to rear-end collissions. The second leading cause is failure to yield the right of way. Though much is made of texting while driving and talking on the cell phone while driving, “driver distraction” accounted for only about 3% of all the motor vehicle accidents in Virginia.

Traffic accidents do not rank in the top ten leading causes of death in Virginia. However, on the national scale, motor vehicle accidents are the 8th leading killer, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The rest of the study can be found here.

Understanding Sprain/Strain Injuries After Auto Accidents

One of the most common injuries in an auto accident is the sprain/strain style injury. This is often referred to as hyperextension-hyperflexion injury, or whiplash. As Fairfax auto accident attorneys, we see these injuries on a regular basis. But most people who have been diagnosed with sprain/strain injuries do not actually know what is going on with their body.

This injuries occur when the muscles and ligaments in your neck and back are stretched or torn. These injuries are categorized by the part of the body that they occur in:

  • Cervical strain injuries occur in the neck.
  • Lumbar sprain injuries occur in the lower back.

Once torn, the muscles in your neck and back heal by developing scar tissue. Unlike healthy tissue, which is elastic, scar tissue is inelastic and can shrink during the healing process. Although the injury itself my heal, the scar tissue leaves the victim of the auto accident wtih less elasticity in their muscles and less functionality. For this reason, car crash victims often suffer at least some residual loss of strength or flexibility.

Common symptoms of sprain/strain injuries after a car accident include:

  • Pain;
  • Muscle spasming;
  • Stiffness;
  • Decreased range of motion; and
  • Headaches

Contrary to popular belief, these injuries rarely cause a whole lot of discomfort at the scene of an auto accident. Typically, the stiffness sets in about 12 to 24 hours after the crash. Shortly thereafter, you might start feeling pain in your neck and upper back.

If you have been in an auto accident and are beginning to feel the symptoms above, the first thing that you need to do is get treated by a medical professional. They will be able to give you a proper diagnosis after x-rays and an examination.

After you’ve sought medical attention, if you’re wondering what your legal rights are after a Virginia car accident, please give us a call at (703) 385-1100.

The Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement

You might not even be out of the hospital before the other driver’s insurance company calls and asks you for a recorded statement. The adjuster will give you all sorts of reasons why you should give them one:

  • It will help them evaluate the case;
  • They cannot make a determination as to fault (even in a rear-end accident case) without your statement;
  • They cannot begin to process your claim.

This is just another one of those lies that insurance adjusters tell. These reasons are all largely bogus. Anything that they want to know from you they can find out from their own insured or from the poilce report. The truth is that there is no reason that they want a recorded statement except in the hopes that you later contradict something that they have you recorded as saying. There is especially no reason to give a recorded statement during the first few days after the crash when you may have a hundred other things on your mind, be in pain, or be on medication.

Remember that despite their efforts to brand themselves as “good neighbors” or convince you that you are “in good hands,” priority number one for an insurance adjuster is to save the company money. They do this by denying claims and by paying less money out than they charge in premiums. This goal is always on their mind when they are evaluating your claim.

One-Third of Drivers Say They’ve Fallen Asleep at the Wheel

How many times have you been driving late at night and seen the car ahead of you or behind you begin to drift out of it’s lane and then jerk back over? You think to yourself: is that driver drunk? Or is he falling asleep? Maybe both? Then you think about how to get away from that driver and try to keep yourself and your family safe. Maybe you accelerate past him… maybe you stay back a safe distance… maybe you call the police. You just want to avoid being involved in an auto accident.

In a recent national survey, nearly one-third of all drivers admitted they had either fallen asleep at the wheel or almost fallen asleep in the past few months. An estimated 1.9 million car accidents a year are caused that way. And while drunken or texting drivers get more attention, a whopping one in six fatalities on the roads are caused by drivers who have fallen asleep at the wheel.

Drowsy driving has been listed as a high-priority concern by the National Transportation Safety Board for more than twenty years now. And the board is calling on regulators and employers to develop guidelines and fatigue management programs.

What Does the Law Say About Drowsy Drivers?

Virginia law on drowsy driving is very simple and quite clear. Of course, all drivers on the road owe a duty to each other to operate their vehicles in safe and prudent manner. But that is a subjective standard. The model jury instruction about drowsy driving is that if a driver falls asleep at the wheel he is negligent. Virginia lawyers use jury instructions as a set of “rules” for the jury to follow when they are reaching their verdict. The difficulty at trial, however, can be proving that you were involved in a crash with a sleeping driver.

One of the chief contributors to drowsy driving is drivers who have been on the road for too long. Virginia courts have a way of dealing with those drivers also. Drivers who have been at the wheel for more than thirteen hours of any twenty-four hour period are negligent. Again, you can have trouble proving how long a driver has been at the wheel at trial without his own admission. However, the people most likely to commit this sort of negligence are truck drivers – who are required to maintain log books detailing when they come and go from each stop.

Negotiating your Auto Accident case with Nationwide

Nationwide has the fifth largest market share of Virginia auto insurers, collecting more than $7 billion in premiums in 2009. Though Farmer’s rates ahead of Nationwide when you’re taking the state as a whole, we find that we are more often dealing with Nationwide than Farmers insurance company in northern Virginia.

Negotiating Cases with Nationwide

Determining settlement value with Nationwide can be more difficult than it is with other large insurers like GEICO or Allstate. On the whole, they are more reasonable than most, but Nationwide’s offers have surprised us as being both much higher and much lower than we expected. This may be because Nationwide places less reliance on a computer system to evaluate cases and gives more authority to their individual adjusters. However, once you have the initial offer from a Nationwide adjuster, you can make a reasonable estimate as to what the “final offer” might be – the two are not often very far from each other. This allows us to make an early decision with our clients about whether we continue to negotiate with the adjuster or simply file a lawsuit.

Nationwide Auto Insurance and Lawsuits

Lawsuits against Nationwide drivers are defended by staff counsel in northern Virginia. This means that the lawyers defending the lawsuit are salaried employees of Nationwide, and not outside counsel hired at an hourly rate to defend the case. This makes it less likely that Nationwide adjusters will quickly increase the value on any given case just because it will cost them a significant amount to defend.

Nationwide adjusters do appear to listen carefully to their attorneys when determining settlement value, however. And Nationwide’s attorneys are good about evaluating a case early in the litigation and making an offer that will be very close to the pre-trial final offer. This allows us to let our clients know early on (and often before we spend much money on expert witnesses and the other costs of litigation) whether we will be going all the way to trial or whether they should accept the settlement.

David L. Marks is a Fairfax car accident attorney and offers free consultations.

Loudoun County Car Accident Lawyer David L. Marks

Have you been in a car accident in Leesburg and you’re beginning to worry about how to get your medical bills paid for? How to get reimbursed for your lost wages? Maybe the insurance company is giving you the run around when you’re just trying to get your car fixed and you’re wondering whether it’ll get worse when you tell them you went to the hospital.

If you’ve got questions about your Leesburg auto accident, you’re in the right place. We are Virginia trial lawyers who only represent injured individuals against insurance companies and their negligent drivers. We don’t write wills. We don’t draft contracts. All we do is work on behalf of injured people to get them the compensation they are entitled to under the law after an accident. We are proud that our clients continually refer their friends and family to our firm to allow us to limit our practice to this very small area of the law.

Our lawyers will take the time to sit down with you and review the facts of the accident, talk about your discussions with the insurance company, and listen to the course of your medical treatment. We’ll analyze the case from a liability standpoint and let you know what problems we think might come up during the course of your case – and we’ll make a plan to avoid them. Our attorneys will then go over with you what insurance coverage you have and what you might be able to do to get some of your medical bills paid right now.

Finally, when it comes time to discuss the settlement of your case, our attorneys will give you an evaluation of what we think the case would be worth at trial before a jury or a Judge in Loudoun. Your lawyers will negotiate the case with the insurance company. Unlike some firms, your case will never be negotiated by a paralegal or legal assistant.

If we are unable to reach a settlement, our attorneys will file your personal injury lawsuit in Loudoun. Unlike some “personal injury mills,” we do not have to “farm the case out” when it comes time to trial. David Marks is an experienced trial lawyer who has what it takes to see your case through to the end.

Injured in an Auto Accident with a Runaway Drive

If you are rear-ended by a runaway driver, the first thing that you need to do (in fact, the first thing that you should do in every single accident) is call the police. Police officers will respond to the scene and put a call out to all other officers to be on the lookout for the car that you describe to them with damage from an auto accident. Many times, the police are able to locate the driver of the vehicle who hit you and fled the scene. Under Virginia law, this driver can be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor hit and run, depending on whether or not you are hurt and the extent of the damage done to your car.Even if the police are unable to locate the driver, they will generate a police report that can be vital to getting the insurance company to pay any of your medical bills.

Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Hit & Run?

If you are hit by a driver who has left the scene, you will be making a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage of your own auto insurance policy. Most policies require that you report the accident either to the police or to the insurance company within 24 or 48 hours from the time of the crash. This is another reason why it is important to protect yourself by having adequate Virginia UM/UIM coverage. Many people are worried that, if they make a claim against their own auto policy, they will be dropped from covearge when it is time for the policy to be renewed. The practice of dropping a first-time claimant from an auto insurance policy for an accident that they did not cause is illegal in Virginia.

As with any auto accident that results in injuries, you should go to the emergency room if you are in intense pain or to your primary care physician first and then follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to getting the care that you need.

If you have to file a lawsuit in order to get proper compensation for your injuries, you will be filing the suit against “John Doe.” The case is defended by an lawyer hired by your auto insurance company.

How to Undo Your Auto Accident Settlement

Did the adjuster show up at your house just a few days after the crash and get you to sign a release in exchange for a couple hundred dollars? Are you now experiencing more pain and want to seek medical treatment, but don’t know how you’re going to pay for it? Do you want to “undo” the settlement of your Virginia auto accident case?

Dirty Adjuster Tactics
Always remember that the insurance adjuster is not your friend. The first adjuster to handle your case is certainly not your friend. Sure, he might sound like a nice guy and it might seem like he’s on your side when he offers to drive over to your house, check out the damage to your car and pay for your initial hospital visit (and give you $400 on top of that!), but remember that he works for the insurance company. His job is to get your case settled as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible.

In exchange for the settlement, he’s going to ask you to sign a release. This release is a legal document that forever waives your right to come back to his company or to the driver who hit you and ask for more money. If you sign the release and later discover (even a week later) that you have a serious or even permanent injury, you can never undo the settlement and get more money. If you were to sue the driver in court, the driver would have an absolute defense to the lawsuit just by holding up the release.

Car insurance companies know that you are particularly vulnerable in the first few days after the crash and they will send out adjusters to offer to pay some of your medical bills and give you some money on top of that in order to get the claim taken care of. This is especially true in cases where there isn’t an awful lot of damage to the car.

Can I Take It Back?
So what happens a couple of days after you sign the settlement papers and you begin to feel a pain in your neck, back or shoulder? Or, what happens when you receive a bill from the x-ray company at the hospital that you didn’t know about (if you’ve never been in an accident before, maybe you didn’t know that you might get 3 or 4 bills from different entities as a result of just one visit.).

In most cases, the answer is “too bad.” You cannot undo your settlement.
There is one BIG statutory exception in Virginia, though. Under Virginia law, if you settle your personal injury claim within thirty days of the incident (without using a lawyer), you have until midnight on the third business day after signing the release to rescind your acceptance of the offer. This rescission must be made in writing and you also have to return the check. This law is codified in Virginia Code 8.01-425.1. This law applies to all kinds of Virginia personal injuries, including: auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, trucking accidents and dog bites.

Have You Made This Mistake?
If you find yourself in a position where you want to rescind your settlement, you should get to a Virginia personal injury lawyer immediately. You need to make sure that your rescission of the settlement is in line with the statute that allows you to undo the settlement.

Our Virginia car accident lawyer, David Marks is available to help you rescind your settlement. We are located right next to the Courthouse in Fairfax. Please give us a call at 703-385-1100 and put us to work for you.

How to Purchase Virginia Uninsured Motorist Insurance

Virginia only requires driver’s to carry liability insurance in the amount of $25,000 per injury and $50,000 per accident. This means that if you are hit by a negligent driver and injured or even killed in an auto accident, the most his insurance company is obligated to pay you is $25,000. If he is breaking the law and not carrying any insurance at all or has let his insurance lapse, his company doesn’t have to pay you a dime (and the guys without insurance typically don’t have many assets to collect from either).

Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is part of your insurance policy that protects you, your passengers, and your family in the event that your car is hit by one of these nitwits. UIM coverage pays for any medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you have endured in excess of the other driver’s liability coverage. For example, let’s say you have a $100K UIM policy. If you are hit by someone with a $25K policy and you have $75K in bills, his policy pays for the first $25K and your insurance company pays the next $50K. On the other hand, you have $125K in bills, his pays the first $25K and your policy pays the next $75K. The amount you can receive is capped by your UIM limit.

More importantly, your UIM policy puts you in the driver’s seat by letting you select your level of coverage. If you’ve ever been in a serious accident you know that medical bills can be incredibly high. A surgery and a hospital stay can easily rise to almost $100K in bills and you’d be left with zero compensation for your pain and suffering or lost wages.

For that reason, whenever we’re asked, we suggest that you carry no less than $300,000 in UIM coverage. It sounds like a lot, but it really doesn’t cost that much more than the lower policies. And if you find yourself in a position where you actually need that kind of coverage, you’ll be thankful that you have it.

Hit as a Pedestrian? Four Things You Need to Know

If you were hit by a car as a pedestrian, you need to know a few things before trying to deal with the insurance company. Pedestrian vs. car accidents can be tricky, because there are many pitfalls that can cause you to lose your case right off the bat, especially in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Insurance Company is Not Your Friend

No matter how friendly the adjuster on the other end of the phone sounds, they are not your friend. Insurance adjusters, especially early in a case, will go out of their way to be nice to you in an attempt to settle your case. They’ll send you a medical authorization so taht they can collect your medical records (to save you the trouble), they’ll check in on you every once in a while to see how your injuries are resolving, they might even come by your house to write you a settlement check. But make no mistake, the job of the first adjuster who handles your case is to get your case settled as quickly as possible, for as little money as possible.If you made the mistake of accepting a settlement check too early, you must read our article on rescinding a personal injury settlement in Virginia and call an attorney ASAP to take steps to correct your error.

Contributory Negligence Can Kill Your Case

Virginia has an ancient rule of law called Contributory Negligence. This rule says that someone who is even 1% at fault for their injuries can recover absolutely nothing from the other party. And in pedestrian accidents, there is plenty of room for an insurance company to blame you for being negligent. Maybe you weren’t in a crosswalk. Maybe you didn’t look both ways. Maybe you were wearing a black sweatshirt at night. Maybe you had headphones in while you were walking or running. Insurance companies can hang their hat on any one of these things and say that they are not going to willingly pay you any money.

Eyewitness Statements Can be Vital

The fact that contributory negligence can deep-six your case means that it is absolutely vital in a pedestrian accident case to have an eyewitness statement. Ask the police officer who drafted the police report whether he took any witness statements. If it’s just your word against the other driver’s and he is saying that you “darted out” into the street, the insurance company is probably not going to be settling your case easily.

Who Pays My Medical Bills?

The question of who should be paying your medical bills after a Virginia car accident comes up in all auto accident cases, but it is particularly important in a pedestrian case because pedestrian cases tend to have more significant injuries than most car crashes. If you have health insurance, they should be paying for your bills first. But be aware that some health insurance plans might be subject to repayment at the end of your case. If you do not have health insurance, you want to check your own auto insurance policy to see whether you have MedPay benefits (or PIP if you’re a Maryland resident). Most people don’t think to look at their own policy in a pedestrian case, but it is an additional source of money. Remember that you will not get a check from the driver’s auto insurance company until you finally settle 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

Injured? Find out if you have a case.
Arrested? Learn how you can protect yourself.