Some of the most tragic car accidents in Virginia are caused by drunk drivers. According to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s crash facts, there were 7,048 alcohol-related accidents causing 264 deaths and 4,402 injuries in 2019. If you or a family member was injured or killed in a drunk driving crash, it is important to understand your right to hold the driver liable to compensate you under Virginia law.
Virginia’s DUI Laws
In our commonwealth, drunk drivers are punished harshly. A person can be found guilty of DUI if either of the following is true:
- His blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08 percent or higher
- His BAC was lower than 0.08 percent, but his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired.
If convicted, a person can be sentenced to a jail sentence or fine and have his driver’s license suspended.
Your Right to Compensation as a Victim of a Drunk Driving Accident
If you were involved in a drunk driving crash, you should contact the police at the scene and obtain a copy of the police report. This will help you prove that the other motorist caused the collision because he was intoxicated.
In Virginia, negligent drivers—including drunk drivers—are responsible for compensating the victims they injure or kill in a collision. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries if you prove that the driver’s intoxicated state was the cause of your injuries. You may be entitled to these types of damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity damages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Wrongful death damages if a loved one was killed
Your Right to Punitive Damages
In addition to compensation for your injuries, you may be able to recover punitive damages in a drunk driving accident. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the driver and are not a routine type of compensation awarded in car accident cases. However, it can be easier to obtain punitive damages if the driver was intoxicated under Virginia law. You would need to prove the following:
- The driver’s BAC was 0.15 percent or higher.
- The drunk driver knew or should have known that his driving abilities were impaired due to his intoxication.
- Your injuries or the death of a family member was caused by the driver’s consumption of alcohol.
Let Us Fight for the Justice You Deserve
Were you injured in a drunk driving accident? Was a loved one killed? Our skilled car accident attorneys are dedicated to obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve from the drunk driver and his insurance company. To learn more about your legal options, call our office to schedule your free consultation today.