Change in Virginia Drunk Driving Law Helps Victims
As a Virginia DUI accident injury lawyer, I often file claims against the insurance companies that represent drunk drivers who have hurt my clients
Intoxicated driving remains one of the most significant causes of injuries and deaths on the roads of Virginia, even though enforcement campaigns have helped tackle the problem over the last two decades.
Recently, a change to the laws of Virginia has helped families who file lawsuits against drunk drivers.
Under § 8.01-44.5 of the code of Virginia, evidence of similar conduct by the defendant after the crash that caused death or personal injury can now be admissible at trial. It can be used in lawsuits when “punitive damages” are being calculated. I very much welcome this change.
Punitive damages are damages over and above the payout the injured party of his or her family can receive after a drunk driving wreck. They are intended to punish the drunk driver. You can read more about punitive damages here.
Punitive damages can be awarded when a drunk driver acts with malice toward the victim. The driver’s conduct is considered to be wanton if he or she has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or more or 0.15 grams or more per 210 liters of breath and the accident was linked to drunk driving.
Punitive damages may also be awarded in some cases where a driver has refused to give a test.
Every year there are thousands of alcohol related accidents in Virginia. In 2015. For example there were 7,591 on the highways of the Commonwealth. Of these, 247 proved to be fatal.
Alcohol or drugs is a factor in almost a third of all fatal crashes in the state of Virginia.
Over the summer months, more people are drinking alcohol and these kids of accidents traditionally spike. If you are attending a party with alcohol you should identify a designated driver or arrange for a taxi or a ride from Uber or another service.
Every two minutes a person is injured in a drunk driving crash in the United States. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a drunk driver, it’s important to recover the most. Many of these drivers continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated, even after an accident. I am pleased that this kind of evidence can now be considered and may help victims receive what they deserve. If you have been hurt or if you have lost a loved one in a DUI crash, call us today at (757) 455-0077.