Suffering injuries or losing a loved one in a car crash in Virginia can be a traumatic experience, and leave you with feelings of sorrow, grief, and worry about the future. Learning that the other driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash, however, can only compound these emotions.
Unfortunately, far too many Virginia residents choose to act irresponsibly by having too much to drink and getting behind the wheel of the car, and put themselves and others at risk of serious injury or death. In fact, statistics provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles show that in 2016 alone, 7,482 alcohol-related crashes took place in Virginia, leading to 4,855 injuries and 262 fatalities.
In the aftermath of a crash involving a drunk driver, it can be difficult to move on with life, and many victims and their survivors are unsure of where to turn to help obtain compensation to pay for rising medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. Because of this, it is at this exact moment that we invite you to reach out to us for help. Our trained attorneys can answer any questions you have about the following information, and begin working on your case immediately to help you recover the damages that you truly deserve.
Criminal Conviction Can Be Used in Your Case
To begin, it is important to recognize the difference between the criminal and civil legal systems, and the results that each will achieve after a crash involving a drunk driver.
In the criminal system, the state brings a case against the drunk driver, using evidence they have at their disposal to convict the driver of DUI charges. Upon conviction, the driver will face criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines.
The civil system is separate; instead, in the civil system, the victim, or the survivors of a victim killed in a crash, will bring a lawsuit against the driver for the damages caused. If the victim or the survivors are successful, they will be awarded damages, or compensation for the harms they have suffered.
Although the victim will not participate in the criminal case, they can use the results in their civil lawsuit, however. Specifically, if the driver is convicted of DUI in a criminal court, any injured victims can present this as evidence of the driver’s negligence in order to recover damages.
Damages You Can Recover after a DUI Crash
Before going any further, anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a DUI crash in Virginia should understand what damages are, especially in this context. Damages are, in the most basic sense, financial amounts that are meant to compensate victims for the harms they have suffered. And damages can further be divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages, as can often be gleaned from their title, are comprised of any harms suffered that have an associated price tag. This includes immediate and obvious costs such as medical bills and the cost of ongoing rehabilitation, as well as those slightly less apparent, including current lost wages, as well as lost wages in the future as a result of any lasting disability.
Non-economic damages are harder to quantify, as they are less tangible and do not have a predetermined price. This may include, for example, any pain and suffering experienced by the victim of the DUI car crash, as well as loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and others. Because non-economic damages are extremely difficult to determine, this calculation should only be performed with the assistance of a trained attorney.
In some cases, a victim may be awarded punitive damages, as well. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for harms they suffered, but instead are intended to punish the liable party if their conduct was especially egregious. Punitive damages may be awarded in a DUI crash, depending on the circumstances, although this is not guaranteed.
How an Attorney Can Help You
Though on the surface the process of handling a DUI crash may seem simple, in reality it consists of a complex set of determinations that require experience and a trained eye. To be sure, a DUI crash victim may see that they are facing current medical bills, and simply assume that a damages award should be just enough to cover that. A legal professional will look much further into the future, however, and arrive at a calculation that not only takes into account the cost of medical rehabilitation, both now and in the future, but any lasting harms, as well. Indeed, it is the attorney’s job to ensure that their client is fully compensated for all that they have suffered, which demands an in-depth investigation and prior experience.
Furthermore, most DUI crash victims are unfamiliar with the variety of legal processes that must be followed in order to pursue a successful case. Take for example, the statute of limitations set forth in Virginia law, which provides that anyone who wishes to file a personal injury lawsuit must do so within two years of the date of their accident. This is not a rule that can be avoided; in reality, missing this deadline by even a day will generally lead to the case being thrown out altogether, subsequently preventing the victim from ever recovering compensation. With a trained lawyer, however, a DUI crash victim never needs to worry about filing deadlines or other administrative rules, and can instead focus on their recovery.
Contact our Virginia Attorneys for Professional Assistance
In reality, the benefits of reaching out to a Virginia attorney after a DUI crash cannot be overstated. A talented Virginia personal injury attorney can examine the specifics of your case, and put together a comprehensive plan to help you recover the compensation that you need to move on with your life.
Don’t wait any longer to get started on your claim. Call the dedicated legal team at the Pack Law Group today at 540-586-7225 for a consultation and to learn how we can assist you.