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Can you sue for punitive damages if you are injured by a drunk driver?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2021 | Drunk Driving Accidents

If you are the victim of a drunk driving accident in the state of Virginia, you may be able to sue for punitive damages.

Punitive damages are awarded in addition to simple compensation to punish a defendant. This is done when a defendant acts out of malice or gross negligence.

According to Virginia law, punitive damages in a drunk driving case can be sought “if the evidence proves that the defendant acted with malice toward the plaintiff or the defendant’s conduct was so willful or wanton as to show a conscious disregard for the rights of others.”

What actions might qualify as malice or gross negligence in a drunk driving case?

  1. If the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.15 percent.
  2. If the defendant knew or should have known that their ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired.
  3. If the defendant’s intoxication was a proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff.
  4. If the defendant has unreasonably refused to submit to a test of their blood.

It is important to note as well that any evidence of previous similar conduct is admissible at trial for consideration to determine the amount of punitive damages to be rewarded to the plaintiff.

This may include previous OUI or DUI convictions, previous motor vehicle accidents where alcohol was a factor, or eyewitness accounts and testimonies that help establish a pattern of negligent behavior involving alcohol.

Also, all alcohol-related arrests may be considered whether or not a motor vehicle was involved.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, understand that you may be entitled to damages beyond simple compensation. Punitive damages for cases that involve injury caused by an impaired driver are determined on a case-by-case basis. Seek support to maximize your compensation.