Approximately 28 people in the United States are killed in car crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That translates to one death every 51 minutes. This is why Virginia and North Carolina have laws designed to penalize drunk drivers that cause injuries when a civil claim is filed. When you file a personal injury action, you can recover the following forms of financial restitution:
- Accident-related medical bills
- Lost income
- Future income that may be lost due to an inability to return to work
- Pain and suffering (including mental anguish, emotional distress, etc.)
In addition, drunk drivers could also be held liable for punitive damages. These are damages meant to punish and deter reckless and wanton behavior like getting behind the wheel of car after drinking heavily. Under Virginia Code § 8.01-44.5, a jury, in its discretion, may award punitive damages to the injured party if the evidence proves that the defendant acted with malice or their conduct was so willful or wanton as to show a conscious disregard for the rights of others. This statute also states that it will be presumed that the drunk driver's conduct was sufficiently willful or wanton when there is evidence that the driver had a blood alcohol content at or above .15 at the time of the accident, or the driver refused to take a breathalyzer test.
To discover the legal options available to you, talk with a knowledgeable attorney at our car accident injury law firm about your potential case.