DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS ATTORNEYS IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA
Call a DUI Accident Lawyer in Alexandria, VA
Car accidents are traumatic incidents that cause lasting damage and serious injuries. When these accidents happen because someone was so negligent, reckless, and careless as to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and put others at risk, the accidents that result can be, and often are, severe.
Sadly, impaired drivers do not limit themselves to driving cars. DUI accidents can involve SUVs, trucks, and even buses. Drunk drivers (DUI or DWI) are among the leading causes of accidents on Virginia roads.
If you have been the victim of a car accident involving a drunk driver, you need an experienced and aggressive attorney to fight for you, get compensation for your injuries, and hold the responsible person accountable for his or her actions.
Attorney Joseph A. Blaszkow has been fighting against drunk driving for his whole career. In 1988, in the case of Booth v. Robertson, 236 Va. 269, the Virginia State Supreme Court decided for the first time that punitive damages could be assessed against a drunk driver who negligently injured an innocent person. Mr. Blaszkow was among the first Virginia attorneys to take advantage of this decision, in a 1989 Prince William County case in which he obtained a jury verdict of $775,000.00, including punitive damages of $125,000.00! Mr. Blaszkow recently obtained yet another $250,000 settlement in an Alexandria case involving a drunk driver who struck a pedestrian. (multi-part settlement)
What can be claimed after a Drunk Driving Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you have the ability to file a claim for damages. Damages means the individual ways that you have been impacted by the crash, and/or suffered a loss as a result. Some common elements of damages include:
Pain and suffering
Time lost from work
Diminished value (for newer cars)
In an accident where the at-fault driver was impaired, you also have a potential claim for Punitive Damages. Punitive Damages are an additional set of monies assessed by the Court to punish the negligent party for conduct that the Court considers uniquely reckless and dangerous. These damages are distinct from - and in addition to! - compensatory damages, which seek to compensate you, the injured party, for the expenses, time lost from work, and pain and suffering caused by the negligent person's conduct.
In Virginia, in order to be able to claim Punitive Damages, the Defendant has to have had a blood alcohol content (BAC) or 0.15 or more.
Talking to Car Insurance Companies
After a drunk driving accident, the at-fault party's Insurance Company will almost always attempt to reach out to you and try to get you to settle the case early. They are doing this for a reason, and that is to minimize the amount of money that they are ultimately going to have to pay out! The insurance companies work for their stockholders, not for you. No matter how nice they sound on the phone. They know that as soon as you accept a settlement offer, your claim is over. They are banking on the fact that most people who are involved in car accidents will try to go it alone, instead of hiring a drunk driving accident attorney.
The punitive damages, discussed above, is the main reason for this. They know that the law allows a claim for these damages, but they also know that most injured parties do not! They recognize, under normal circumstances, when a person is represented by a car accident attorney, the value of the case generally triples. They know that in the event of a drunk driving car accident, that number can go much higher.
Make no mistake - the car insurance companies do not want you to talk to a lawyer. But you should!
Are Drunk Driving Cases Different From Regular Car Accidents?
The fact patterns of how the accident happened are investigated in a similar manner, but a drunk driving case requires a deeper investigation into the actions and history of the tortfeasor, or person who caused the accident - in this case, the person who was driving while under the influence, and who caused the crash. Our investigator searches for the drunk driver's movements, to find out where they were drinking, and how it came to pass that the drunk driver caused the accident in question. We are searching for patterns of behavior, and anyone else who knew of the drunk driver's conduct.
In a drunk driving accident case, from the injured person's perspective, however, the answer is "no," because we do everything we can to focus the client on simply getting better, while we handle the rest.
As in all cases, we are accumulating evidence for trial from Day One, when a client walks into our office. We prepare every case for trial, and the insurance companies know that.
How long Virginia drunk driving accident cases take?
These cases are very fact specific, but drunk driving accidents do take longer than regular car accidents. This is because most insurance companies want to do everything they can to reduce the client's settlement amount. Often, this forces an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer to litigate the case. Car crashes can go to court even if the other side accepts liability, but there is still a dispute over the amount of the claimant's damages.
Cases that are filed in the General District Court are generally heard within six to eight months of being filed. Cases in the Circuit Court can sometimes take up to two years before trial. However, the amount of compensation that can be obtained for our clients, especially considering the punitive damages aspect of the case, often makes the wait worth it.
What is Required for a DUI/DWI Claim in Virginia?
In order to assert a claim against another driver, beyond a normal negligence claim, we have to prove that the person was intoxicated. Under Virginia law, a person is intoxicated if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is in excess of 0.08%. In order to make a claim for punitive damages, the person's BAC must be 0.15% or more.
A claim can also be made if the person was under the influence of drugs/narcotics.
Contributory negligence and Drunk Driving Accidents in Virginia
Even though a drunk driver places the public at risk, and the law recognizes that, it does not change Virginia's underlying legal doctrine of contributory negligence. The person bringing the claim, called the claimant or plaintiff, cannot have been even 1% responsible for the accident. Because the insurance companies recognize how potentially exposed they are in these cases, this is the argument that they are going to work the hardest to prove. If they can convince a judge or jury that you were in some way responsible, it can act as a bar to your recovery.
Speak to an experienced drunk driving car accident lawyer right away to fight the arguments the insurance companies are going to make, and work hard to prove that your injuries were solely the responsibility of the drunk driver.
What Should I do If I Was Hurt by a Drunk Driver in Virginia?
If you have been injured due to the negligence, reckless, and careless conduct of a drunk driver, then let us help you hold that person accountable. Drunk driving is completely inexcusable, in a world where everyone has access to Uber and Lyft. You are going to have your hands full getting better - let us work on preparing your claim, and bringing the negligent parties to justice.
Call Blaszkow Legal today and Get Justice with Joe. Our team has represented countless individuals who have been hurt by drunks, and we are good at what we do. Put our experience to work for you, and call today for a free consultation: 703-879-5910.
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Virginia Punitive Damages Statute: https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title8.01/chapter3/section8.01-44.5/