Drunk driving accidents have some of the most horrific outcomes. An intoxicated driver cannot control their vehicle, wreaking havoc on the road and into innocent people’s lives. If you were the victim of an accident caused by a drunk driver, you deserve fair compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages due to the other driver’s reckless disregard for your life and safety. We strongly encourage you to seek justice with the help of an experienced Norfolk drunk driving accident lawyer at CAIL Law Firm.
We will examine your case with great care, get in touch with law enforcement authorities to gather all relevant evidence, and help you file a personal injury claim or take your case to court to win maximum compensation. We will argue that your accident injuries, lost wages, physical and mental pain deserve satisfactory financial compensation, beyond the fines the law imposes on the DUI driver.
Statistics on Drunk Driving
An auto accident attorney does not need statistics to know that no one should ever drive under influence. However, data is available and it speaks louder than words. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, 10,142 people lost their lives in a drunk driving accident across the USA. This means one person lost their life in deadly accidents every 52 minutes.
For the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles published detailed statistical data on vehicle accidents for 2018:
- 7,181 alcohol-related accidents
- 278 people died in severe accidents caused by DUI drivers
- 4,475 accident victims who suffered personal injury and property damage.
In Norfolk City alone, there were 204 DUI car crashes, resulting in 4 cases of wrongful death. CAIL personal injury law firm has helped many victims of a reckless and negligent driver obtain monetary damages to cover their medical expenses, financial losses and get the compensatory damages they deserve for losing a loved one or being left with life-changing injuries and permanent disability.
How the Commonwealth of Virginia Treats Driving under Influence
Each state has its own rules and thresholds for driving under influence. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to Virginia Code 18-2-266, a person is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle if their body contains:
- 0.8 percent blood alcohol content (BAC)
- 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood
- 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood.
Moreover, a person may be arrested on DUI charges even if the vehicle was not in motion at the moment when the law enforcement officer arrived at the scene. In an appeal to a DUI conviction at the Virginia Supreme Court, the judge affirmed and upheld the initial conviction, although the defendant was sitting in their car in their own driveway, with the engine turned off. In the understanding of the court, operating a vehicle means “engaging the machinery of the vehicle which alone, or in sequence, will activate the motive power of the vehicle”.
Last but not least, a new law in force since 2020 imposes harsher penalties on DUI drivers. If auto accident drivers suffer permanent and significant impairment in a crash caused by a driver under influence, the offense is a Class 6 felony instead of a Class 4 felony, carrying a penalty of 2 to 10 years in prison.
How Drunk Is Too Drunk to Drive?
Although the law states that the threshold for BAC is 0.8, once someone consumes even a little quantity of alcohol, they are not fit to drive. The NTHSA offers detailed information on how each BAC level influences the ability to operate motor vehicles. Thus:
- at 0.2 BAC, a person has reduced visual function and is unable to perform two tasks at the same time (use the steering wheel and press on the brake pedal, for example)
- at 0.5 BAC, the ability to coordinate movements and track moving vehicles is reduced; the person can operate the steering wheel with difficulty and has a delayed response to emergency driving situations
- at 0.8 BAC, the person is unable to concentrate and control speed, has impaired perception and reduced ability to process information.
Thus, driving after drinking, even your BAC does not meet the threshold set by the law can lead to serious pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, and crashes with another car. Even if you are not completely at fault for the crash, according to the contributory negligence rule applicable in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you are partly the fault driver for your crash, thus you may not file a personal injury claim and get compensation for losses.
Bodily Injury in DUI Crashes
An injured person hit by a drunk driver needs extensive medical care to recover. Due to the negligent driver’s ability to steer the vehicle away in order to prevent maximum impact, their victims may suffer:
- loss of limb
- broken bones
- spinal injuries
- neck injuries.
Often, auto accident victims are left with chronic pain and a reduced capacity to work, causing a serious negative impact on their future earnings. Thus, you need to hire an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney to calculate all your losses and prepare a fair settlement that also includes compensation for your physical pain, emotional trauma and other non-economic damages.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Crash with a Drunk Driver
Accidents involving DUI pose various challenges. Some of these reckless drivers already have several convictions and, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, may risk getting a fine of up to $1,000 and mandatory permanent revocation of their driver’s license for an indefinite period of time. They may also be uninsured motorists. Thus, they may also flee the accident scene, if their vehicle is still in driving conditions.
Request Medical Assistance and Law Enforcement Officers at the Crash Scene
Nevertheless, you need to focus on getting medical attention for your injuries and then consider your options for legal recourse. Thus, the first thing to do is to call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance and the police to investigate the crash scene and prepare the accident report.
Do not worry about your hospital bills. An experienced attorney will help you obtain your fair settlements, either from the other driver’s insurance company or out of your own insurance coverage for the uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Refuse to Discuss Your Case with Insurance Adjusters
Once you reported a car accident, you will be contacted by insurance adjusters representing either the fault driver’s insurance carrier or your own. They will make you an offer or say that you don’t have a case because you were partly responsible for the crash.
No matter what the insurance company representative tells you, refuse to discuss with them. Do not make any statements (for instance about your recovery prognosis or how you feel right then) and do not give any information. Everything you say may be used against you, either during settlement negotiations or in a personal injury lawsuit.
Remember the Statute of Limitations and Hire Legal Services
The Commonwealth of Virginia gives personal injury victims a time frame of two years after the date of the accident to take legal action. This period of time is even shorter – one year – if you are trying to sue government entities, for instance, in the case of victims of bus accidents, if the driver is directly employed by the public bus service company.
For this reason, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. With legal representation, the first procedures can be initiated on your behalf while you are still recovering from your injuries in hospital and you won’t run out of time to file a damage claim.
Hire a Personal Injury Legal Team with Experience and Dedication!
At CAIL Law Firm, each client is our first priority. We do whatever is necessary to collect information, investigate your car crash and build a solid case against the irresponsible drunk driver who hit you. We will consult with law enforcement representatives, medical experts and look at your medical records to prove the full extent of your injuries and their impact on your life from now on.
If the auto insurance company does not want to accept our settlement amount, covering your medical costs, lost wages, and the cost of future medical expenses, we will explain to you the legal process of taking the fault driver to court and demanding compensation.
We are your strength in your most vulnerable and uncertain times. And we want you to schedule your initial consultation with us with the confidence that you don’t have to further empty your pockets. We work on a contingency basis. This means that we don’t collect any fees until we win your case, and we retain our due fee out of your settlement amount.
Time is running out, and you may not get justice if you wait too long to take legal action. Get an experienced Norfolk drunk driving accident lawyer at CAIL Law Firm looking into your case and understand the legal options you have available to recover your financial losses. Call us to schedule a free case review: 1-800-HURT-123!
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