Boy’s Brain Injury From Virginia Beach Drunk Driving Accident Results in Sizable Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

A 9-year-old boy suffered a concussion, facial abrasions and a neck injury when a woman who was subsequently charged with second offense driving under the influence hit the car in which he was riding.

The injured child experienced headaches, dizziness and nausea for a month following the crash on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, VA. The symptoms of his mild traumatic brain injury persisted despite immediate treatment at an urgent care facility and follow-up care from the family’s primary care physician. Fortunately, a brain scan and other diagnostic tests revealed no permanent damage.

The boy’s mother later hired our Virginia Beach-based car accident and brain injury law firm to take on the insurance company for the at-fault drunk driver.


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Key Legal Strategy

The DUI crash happened in October 2009, and the at-fault driver refused to participate in sobriety tests. Under Virginia law, a driver who refuses sobriety testing while being suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol becomes liable for paying punitive damages to people he or she injured in a crash.

Punitive damages are monies assessed over and above any compensation for medical bills, disability, and pain and suffering. They are also noncriminal fines intended to directly punish willful and reckless conduct and to indirectly discourage recklessness by other individuals.

Our Virginia car accident and brain injury lawyer pressed the injured boy’s claim for punitive damages by filing a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver and her insurance company. The child was represented in all legal matters by his mother and a guardian ad litem, who is a person appointed by a court to ensure a child’s interests and rights are protected.

Recognizing that it would likely lose a jury trial, the insurance company agreed to make a substantial settlement with our client. The dollar amount remains confidential, but the insurance company acknowledged in court filings that it paid more than it would have if its policyholder had not been driving drunk when she caused the car crash.

Our Virginia car accident and brain injury law firm also convinced the insurance company to pay the injured boy’s family part of the settlement immediately so they could clear up unpaid medical bills. The rest of the settlement was placed in a tax-free and interest-bearing account that will distribute funds to the child on his 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st birthdays.

As Virginia personal injury layers, we only sue, and never defend, drunk or drugged drivers. We also take a special interest in representing brain injury victims and children injured by adult driver’s recklessness. When victims cannot fully advocate for themselves, we step up.

Court and Dates: Norfolk Circuit Court, Norfolk, VA, Jan. 12, 2011

Staff: Staff attorney