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How Much is My Virginia DUI Accident Claim Worth?

— August 16, 2022

The value of your non-economic damages depends on the severity of your injuries and how significantly they impacted your life.

Richmond, VA – One-third of all fatal accidents in Virginia are caused by drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year almost 300 people are killed and thousands are injured in DUI accidents on Virginia roads. The financial consequences are terrible for the victims and their families and it is their right to seek damages. 

Recovering damages is an extremely daunting process as you have to deal with seasoned insurance adjusters who would do anything to minimize the value of your claim. Then you have to contend with Virginia’s strict negligence laws. 

You don’t automatically get damages for a DUI accident

If you were injured in a DUI accident, never assume you’re the wronged party and you’ll surely be compensated. Virginia follows the contributory negligence doctrine which means that if you’re even slightly at fault in an accident you don’t get anything. 

Let’s say a driver with a BAC three times over the legal limit going at 100 mph slams into your car. If it is determined that you were also a bit over the speed limit or you were a little distracted, that counts as negligence. Minor, but under the contributory negligence rule you lose your right to recover. If you want to avoid such an unpleasant situation, it’s best to talk to an experienced Virginia DUI accident lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. 

Types of damages you can recover for a DUI accident

According to the law, when you file a personal injury claim you are entitled to get compensatory damages, which are of two types:

Economic damages

Image by Andrew Khoroshavin, courtesy of Pixabay.
Image by Andrew Khoroshavin, courtesy of Pixabay.

These refer to your financial losses, those you can prove with bills and payslips. You are entitled to be compensated for your medical expenses, including ER visits, hospital stays, surgery, follow-up medical care, at-home care, the cost of medical equipment and home alterations you may need, etc. Never hurry to draw the line. Seasoned Virginia drunk driving accident lawyers will have you wait until you’re fully recovered or until you’re reached what doctors call the maximum improvement point, so you know how your life is going to look in the future and what medical expenses you’ll have. 

You can also seek damages for your lost wages, past and future. If you’re left with some sort of impairment and you won’t be able to go back to your old job, you can seek compensation for lost earning capacity.

Non-economic damages

These are also known as pain and suffering damages. They are meant to compensate you for your physical and mental suffering. In Virginia, there is no cap on non-economic damages. 

The value of your non-economic damages depends on the severity of your injuries and how significantly they impacted your life. It also depends on the skill of your accident lawyer. 

Typically, accident attorneys use testimony from medical experts describing the pain and limitations your injury causes. They will also call on your family, friends, or coworkers to testify about the kind of life you used to have before the crash and how much you have changed since. 

If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, don’t hesitate to talk to a mental health professional. You’ll be compensated for the expenses and the expert can testify about your mental issues.

Can I get punitive damages in Virginia?

If you were injured in a DUI accident, you can sue the other driver and seek punitive damages on top of your compensatory ones. Punitive damages are meant to punish drunk drivers for their egregious behavior. However, in Virginia, punitive damages are capped at $300,000. 

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