Despite increased efforts at enforcement by the police, passage of tougher laws, and more aggressive prosecutions, drunk driving remains a major problem in the United States. According to statistics maintained by the Center for Disease Control, 29 people per day die in automobile accidents involving an alcohol impaired driver. That amounts to one death every 51 minutes. Many more are seriously injured in accidents caused by drunk drivers.
Persons injured in accidents caused by drunken drivers may have rights under the law to seek damages in addition to those normally recoverable in auto accident cases. This is because drunken driving is rightly considered to be reckless behavior in violation of the rights of others who use our roads and highways.
In Virginia, for example, where a driver causes injury or death and is found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .15 or higher, by statute the injured party or the estate of a decedent may seek not only compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate for all losses, but also exemplary or punitive damages.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the offender and send a message in the community that such behavior is egregious and will not be tolerated. These types of cases often involve a degree of fault that goes well beyond what is normally considered ordinary negligence or carelessness. Depending on the circumstances, punitive damages may also be recoverable in instances where there is a BAC level below .15 or where the driver at fault has refused to allow blood alcohol testing.
If you have had the misfortune to be injured by a drunken driver, it can be very important to have the assistance of an auto accident attorney early on after an accident has occurred. Your attorney can conduct an investigation and obtain and preserve evidence that will be useful in the handling of a claim, and can monitor the prosecution of the offending driving for DUI or DWI.
At Goss & Fentress, PLC, our auto accident attorneys have successfully represented many clients who have been injured in accidents caused by impaired or intoxicated drivers. If you or a family member has been injured in such an accident, please contact us. We can help you.