A car's driver who hit and severely injured a motorcycle rider in Williamsburg, Virginia (VA), on November 8, 2014, now faces multiple felony charges for causing the wreck. According to the Virginia Gazette, the resident of York County must answer in criminal court for driving under the influence of alcohol, "maiming as a result of DUI, driving without headlights and driving on the wrong side of the road."
Each allegation could bring significant jail time and monetary fines if the at-fault driver gets convicted. Perhaps the most serious is the DUI maiming, which Virginia code defines as "driving while intoxicated ... in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life, unintentionally causes the serious bodily injury of another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment."
That particular charge caught my attention as a Virginia personal injury lawyer whose firm has helped dozens of bikers injured through the negligence and recklessness of others. While the results of criminal proceedings cannot determine the outcome of civil claims filed to secure compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, the evidence collected by police and used by prosecutors can be employed by civil attorneys.
Also, evidence of recklessness can serve as grounds for seeking punitive damages. Virginia law allows the awarding of cash judgments over and above any compensation due directly for accident-related injuries and long-term care. If the man blamed for causing the wreck near the campus of the College of William & Mary was indeed so drunk that he could not remain in his own lane or even remember to switch on his car's headlights, then he should be held liable to fullest extent of both criminal and civil law.