What About Drunk Driving Personal Injury Cases In Virginia?
If vehicular accidents are the leading cause of personal injury in Richmond, Virginia, it is also a fact that the leading cause of vehicular accidents involves drunk driving. In fact, over a third of all such cases have a DUI involvement. The problem is so severe that the Virginia legislature has enacted special provisions for punitive damages against drivers who willfully disregard the safety of others. These are over and above the regular personal-injury compensatory damages for economic losses such as medical bills, loss of work, and reduction in future earning capacity. So if you have been affected by a drunk driver’s actions, you may be able to receive compensation not only for direct loss of financial resources as well as emotional trauma, but also for punitive damages imposed on the driver.
In order to receive this enhanced compensation, your attorney has to prove that a certain set of conditions existed at the time. It’s not always easy to show elements such as “intent” and “knowledge”, but based on past experience and by researching previous case history, your lawyer will be able to craft effective arguments to maximize the chances of a conviction and of you obtaining a significant monetary compensation.
Enhanced Punitive Damages in Virginia
The limit for DUI “per se” in Virginia is a Blood-Alcohol Concentration or BAC of 0.08%. “Per se” means that a detection of BAC levels above this is sufficient proof of being drunk regardless of any other kind of behavior displayed by the driver. However in order to be awarded punitive damages for accidents caused by drunk driving, you have to prove that the other person’s BAC level was over 0.15% instead. This will raise the level of the DUI charge to “aggravated” which is one of the key components necessitating enhanced damages.
The second component requires you to prove that the defendant knew or should have known that their ability to drive was significantly impaired. As you can imagine, this isn’t always an easy burden of evidence to meet. Proving intent has to be done by closely examining the circumstances around which the drunk driver happened to get into the vehicle. Verification of the facts and cross questioning are vital tools for arriving at the truth.
The final component is that the accident should have been caused by the driver being drunk. In other words, if some other intervening factor caused the injury, you are not eligible for enhanced damages.
In order to prove these three circumstances, you must contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Virginia who is familiar with the kind of arguments that will hold weight in court. Without one, the chances of you obtaining the maximum possible compensation for your losses is minimal. Don’t hesitate to walk in for a consultation. Contact our office at (804) 554-4444.(804) 554-4444.