In Virginia, a negligent truck driver and trucking company who caused you to suffer injuries in a truck accident are liable to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Depending on the cause of your crash and the trucker’s actions, you may also be entitled to punitive damages under Virginia law.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are only awarded in limited circumstances when the truck driver’s negligence is especially egregious. The purpose is not to compensate you, but to punish the trucker. These awards send a message to him and others that this type of behavior will not be allowed and will be severely punished.
Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Truck Accident Cases
One of the situations where punitive damages are commonly awarded is in drunk driving cases. Under Virginia Code Section 8.01-44.5, you may be entitled to these damages if you can show the following:
- The trucker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15 or higher.
- At the time the truck driver was consuming alcohol and when he was driving, he knew or should have reasonably known that his ability to drive a truck would be impaired.
- The truck driver’s intoxication was the cause of your accident.
If the truck driver refused to take a blood alcohol content test, his conduct may be presumed to justify a punitive damage award if there is other evidence showing his intoxication.
Punitive Damages Under Virginia Common Law
In other cases that do not involve drunk driving, punitive damages may be awarded under common law, which are laws that are stated in Virginia court decisions. To be entitled to punitive damages, you must show that the trucker acted with malice against you or that his conduct was so willful and wanton as to show a complete disregard for the rights of others. This standard is hard to meet.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Virginia?
There is a cap on the amount of punitive damages you can receive in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The maximum amount you are entitled to is $350,000. In addition, even if you prove your right to punitive damages, it is up to the judge or jury to decide whether to award them.
If you or a family member were seriously injured in a truck accident in Norfolk, our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to fight for all the compensation that you are entitled to—including punitive damages. To learn more about your legal options and our extensive experience fighting for the rights of truck accident victims, call our office to schedule your free case evaluation today.