Each year, thousands of people suffer catastrophic injuries in accidents involving intoxicated drivers. In fact, in Virginia alone, over five thousand people were hurt in wrecks with drunk drivers and over 250 people died in these collisions.
When an irresponsible driver decides to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car, they are putting their life at risk and the lives of every driver they encounter on busy roads and highways like Interstate 264, Interstate 64, Interstate 664, Hampton Boulevard, Virginia Beach Boulevard, etc. Our firm works aggressively to pursue maximum compensation for clients injured by reckless drunk drivers. In some cases, we pursue punitive damages. These are a unique form of damages intended to punish a defendant whose conduct was reckless and wanton. We cannot pursue punitive damages in every case because Virginia law requires that a defendant acted “wantonly, oppressively, or with such malice as to evince a spirit of malice or criminal indifference to civil obligations.” This level of negligence warranting punitive damages exceeds simple negligence or gross negligence to such a degree that is reaches the level of willful and wanton negligence.
Furthermore, the Virginia legislature enacted § 8.01-38.1 which places a cap of $350,000 on punitive damages. This means that the most you can recover in a punitive damage award is $350,000 (even if a jury decides to award a higher amount).
Below is a list of some of the largest/biggest personal injury verdicts and settlements in Virginia. Keep in mind that every case is different. Simply because you see a case on this list that sounds similar to your case does not mean you will obtain a similar verdict or settlement.
$3.25 Million Jury Verdict for Teacher Seriously Injured in Head-On Collision with Drunk Driver in Newport News
- Case name: Rios v. Hicks
- Court: Newport News Circuit Court
- Injuries: Open reduction with internal fixation to the hip, left elbow, left femur, right femur, right tibia and fibula; collapsed lung, traumatic pancreatitis, and numerous soft tissue injuries; respiratory failure, hemorrhagic shock, internal bleeding and the removal of gallbladder; anoxic brain injury
- On June 8, 2011, at the intersection of Lucas Creek Road and Cabell Drive in Newport News, the defendant, while in an intoxicated state, took his eyes off the road to check his cell phone, crossed over a double yellow line and struck the vehicle driven by the plaintiff. A responding Newport News police officer testified that the defendant exhibited signs of intoxication at the scene, and that he had recovered an empty bottle of vodka from the defendant’s car. The defendant’s blood was drawn at the hospital approximately two hours after the accident showing a .09 blood alcohol content by weight by volume. An expert forensic toxicologist opined that based on the .09 reading two hours after the crash, the defendant had a .11 to .13 blood alcohol content at the time of the crash by weight by volume. The injuries suffered by the plaintiff were life-altering. The plaintiff spent two weeks in the hospital followed by several months in a rehabilitation facility, ultimately gaining the ability to walk under her own power after three-and-a-half months. Plaintiff was forced to take a one-year leave of absence from her work as a public school teacher as a result of the accident. She has since returned to teaching and remains a valued employee and a student favorite in the Newport News Public Schools. Plaintiff suffered an open reduction with internal fixation to the hip, left elbow, left femur, right femur, right tibia and fibula. Additionally, she suffered a collapsed lung, traumatic pancreatitis, numerous soft tissue injuries, respiratory failure, hemorrhagic shock, internal bleeding and the removal of gallbladder. Finally, she suffered an anoxic brain injury. She has returned to her role as a mother and teacher, but suffers from constant pain and occasional seizures. The jury returned a verdict in the amount of $3.5 million dollars, $1 million of which represents a punitive award.
- Learn more about this multi-million dollar drunk driving accident jury verdict here.
$2.86 Million Settlement for Highway Worker Injured in Collision with Drunk Driver on I-264
- A highway worker was hit by an intoxicated driver on Interstate 264 in Norfolk, Virginia. The highway worker suffered life-altering injuries. Specifically, he had to have both of his legs amputated. The injured highway worker secured a $2.86 million settlement including $936,775 for a personal injury claim and $1.9 million in workers' compensation.
$1.8 Settlement for College Student Injured when Drunk Driver Wrecked Their SUV After a Party
- Case name: Confidential
- Court: Rockbridge County Circuit Court
- Injuries: Burst fractures of the lower spine, liver laceration, rib fractures.
- Plaintiff was a 19-year-old healthy and active athlete prior to the accident. While a college student, she attended a party off campus late in the evening. At the end of the party, rides back to campus were scarce. Ten students jumped into an SUV whose driver indicated he was returning to campus. Plaintiff jumped into the cargo hold of the SUV with four other students. The driver ultimately admitted to driving while intoxicated. Most of the students admitted drinking alcohol at the party. Very shortly after departing the party, the driver lost control of the vehicle on a curvy road and flipped the vehicle in a culvert. Plaintiff sustained numerous injuries, the most prominent of which were burst fractures in her lumbar spine. Plaintiff had stabilization surgery including insertion of metal brackets in the lumbar spine. One year later, plaintiff had surgery in which the metal brackets were removed. Plaintiff was still experiencing lumbar pain two years after the accident with limitations on more vigorous activities. Her surgeon opined that it was more likely than not that she would need an additional surgery in the future for stabilization. The liability aspect of the case involved many issues relating to alcohol consumption, contributory negligence, assumption of risk, willful and wanton negligence and punitive damages. Plaintiff contended that she would establish that the defendant was guilty of willful and wanton negligence which would have eradicated contributory negligence as a defense. The initial mediation with retired Judge Johanna Fitzpatrick failed. However, Fitzpatrick continued to work with the parties who successfully resolved the case six weeks prior to trial.
$1.3 Million Settlement in T-Bone Drunk Driving Accident
- Case name: Escobar v. Rook
- Court: Greensville County Circuit Court
- Injuries: Rib fracture, sternal fracture, lung bruise, multiple tendon injuries, de-gloving of foot
- The 20-year-old defendant was driving his new Ford F-150 truck while drunk traveling at 70 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. The intoxicated driver crashed into the side of the plaintiff’s van when she pulled away from a stop sign. The impact was so powerful that the van flipped over several times and threw the plaintiff out of her vehicle. As a result of the impact, the plaintiff's foot was trapped beneath the seat in front of her, causing a degloving injury when she was thrown from her vehicle.
$1.2 Million Wrongful Death Settlement for Passenger Killed in Collision with Drunk Driver
- This settlement was agreed to between the estate of the victim and cell phone tower company and its employee. The employee was driving while intoxicated, crossed a double-yellow line and struck a Ford Taurus in which the victim was riding as a passenger. The employee driver had a history of D.U.I. and drunk in public arrests and convictions. Claims were filed asserting negligence by the driver and the company’s negligence in hiring and retaining this individual as a driver of company trucks. Case was filed in Fairfax County, Virginia.
$1.1 Million Settlement in Rear-End Collision
- Decedent was the driver of a vehicle owned by his back-seat passenger and traveling on Route 220 Bypass in Henry County. An F350 Ford pickup, with trailer in tow, rear-ended the decedent, forcing the vehicle off the roadway, with the decedent’s vehicle striking a tree. Both occupants were killed. The Virginia Department of State Police’s investigation revealed that the defendant was operating a corporate truck with a BAC of .190. The black box later revealed that two seconds prior to impact, when the airbags deployed, the defendant was traveling at 98 MPH. Additional insurance was found through the defendant’s personal auto policy and a demand was made for $1,100,000.00. The two decedents’ attorneys agreed early on, that the two estates would split the policy limits equally. The policy limits were tendered and accepted.
$895,000 Settlement for Tow Truck Driver Who Suffered a Brain Injury in a Collision with a Drunk Driver
- Case name: Confidential
- Court: Newport News Circuit Court
- Injuries: Mild traumatic brain injury
- A Portsmouth tow truck driver was hit by a drunk driver on the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel in Newport News, Virginia. He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury as well as shoulder, ankle and knee injuries that left him unable to return to his previous occupation.
$350 Settlement for Passenger Injured by a Drunk Driver who Drove on Wrong Side of Highway
- Case name: Meade v. Holmes
- Court: Warren County Circuit Court (suit pending)
- Injuries: Pelvis fracture, femur fracture, sacral fracture, liver laceration, neuropath, right hip fracture, and numerous cuts, scrapes and bruises.
- Plaintiff, an 18-year-old female, was the passenger in a vehicle that was hit head on by a drunken driver proceeding on the wrong side of Route 522 in Warren County, Virginia. The defendant pulled onto the wrong side of Route 522, which is separated by a median, and continued driving south in the northbound lane. The defendant then struck the vehicle, in which the plaintiff was a passenger, head on. The plaintiff suffered life-threatening injuries, and after being treated at a local hospital was taken by air to Fairfax Inova Hospital where she was treated in the trauma intensive care unit. The plaintiff had extensive orthopedic surgery to repair her femur, hip, and pelvic girdle. After release from the hospital, the plaintiff had to undergo extensive physical therapy. Prior to the accident, the plaintiff participated in ballet and had planned to enroll in college full time. Since the incident, the plaintiff has not been able to participate in ballet, attend school, or return to her pre-injury activities. The defendant was convicted of felony maiming of another resulting from driving while intoxicated, Virginia Code § 18.2-51.4, and is currently awaiting sentencing. The personal injury case involved complex coverage issues such as coordination of benefits and stacking of underinsured motorist policies. There were four separate car insurance policies involved which all provided their maximum policy limits. The plaintiff suffered a total of $131,620.98 in medical damages.
$300,000 Settlement for College Student Injured by Drunk Driver at Norfolk Intersection
- A young woman was injured when a drunk driver (DUI driver) left the roadway and struck her in Virginia Beach, VA. Our client, a young mother and aid to the mentally disabled, was walking, legally, on the sidewalk. The drunk driver lost control of her vehicle, and then fled the scene after injuring the student mom. Our client was lying hurt in a ditch for 25 minutes before anyone knew she was there. She suffered a very large laceration to her head, requiring staples, a broken finger, multiples cuts and bruises and worst of all, a closed head injury (yes, this is categorized as a traumatic brain injury by doctors). After we notified the insurance company of our representation of the student, the insurance adjuster quickly offered their complete policy limits very quickly as they knew that they had no defenses to this drunk driving case.
- Learn more about this Norfolk drunk driver accident injury case here.
$100,000 Settlement for Injured Engineer
- Plaintiff worked as an engineer in Norfolk, Virginia. He was leaving the gym after a workout when another driver drove up on the sidewalk and struck him as a pedestrian. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries to his lower leg. As it turns out, the driver of the vehicle was drunk and was found to have registered a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .17, over two times the legal limit.
- Learn more about this drunk driving settlement here.
$50,000 Settlement in Route 37 Accident in Frederick County
- On the evening of Jan. 13, 2016, the plaintiff was traveling on Rt. 37 and had stopped at a traffic light in Frederick County. The defendant, later convicted of DUI, struck the back of the plaintiff’s vehicle, pushing him into the vehicle in front of him. The plaintiff immediately presented to the Winchester Medical Center Emergency Room. He was diagnosed with soft tissue injury, including back sprain, and was treated by an area chiropractor. His past medical bills totaled $9,684.24. Lost wages were disputed. Had the case have gone to trial it would have qualified for a punitive damages instruction based upon the elevated BAC. The plaintiff’s case settled for $50,000.00.