Gainesville Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
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If your family has suffered losses from an alcohol-impaired motorist’s driving, you have every right be angry. Drunk driving accidents are a senseless tragedy that no one should have to endure.
However, you may be able to hold the driver liable and recover compensation. A drunk driving accident lawyer in Gainesville at the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC can help.
Call today for a free consultation to discuss your options: 571-229-1800.
How Do I Establish Liability?
Operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is a crime. It is also a form of negligence. If you can prove another driver’s negligence caused your injuries, you are entitled to compensation.
To prove negligence, we can obtain the police report and any drug or alcohol test results. However, this only proves intoxication. We must also prove that the other party’s intoxication caused the accident. This usually means defending against any accusations that you caused or contributed to the accident.
Jim Parrish used to defend insurance companies, so he knows how they operate. He will identify any issues with your case and bolster them. This will ensure the other side’s insurer does not successfully pin some of the blame on you.
Jim and his team must also prove that your injuries were a direct result of the accident in question. We will gather medical records and obtain expert testimony to establish this link.
Once we have established negligence and injury causation, we must establish you suffered damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and “pain and suffering” and inconvenience.
Are There Any Other Parties I Can Hold Liable?
Possibly. Virginia does not have a “dram shop law” which creates a legal duty on the part of alcohol vendors.
However, you might be able to hold another party liable if, for example, while visibly intoxicated, the driver borrowed another person’s car. Consider the following: Sally and Jenny are at a party. Jenny is visibly intoxicated, but Sally allows her to borrow her car. In this case, Sally could be liable for any injuries resulting from an accident Jenny causes. The law refers to this as “negligent entrustment.”
Another example of third-party liability could be a trucking company owner who allowed a truck driver with a history of driving while intoxicated get behind the wheel.
We will thoroughly examine your case to hold as many parties responsible as the law allows.
What Compensation Might I Be Able to Recover?
Drunk driving accidents can create lasting injuries that affect a victim’s health, income, family life, and social life. Compensation available to victims and their families could include payments for:
- Medical bills (hospital and treatment providers)
- Various forms of therapy
- Rehabilitative or long-term care facilities
- “Pain and suffering” and inconvenience
- Emotional trauma
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Loss of consortium and/or familial relationships
- Household chores or child care expenses necessitated by the accident
- Wrongful death benefits
- Punitive damages
The law deems all but punitive damages “compensatory” in nature, with the goal of making the victim whole.
What Are Punitive Damages? How Can I Recover Them?
Virginia law treats drunk driving accidents differently than other traffic accidents. In certain situations, victims can pursue punitive damages from the impaired driver. To recover punitive damages, a victim must show that the impaired driver showed a conscious disregard for the rights and safety of others.
You would be accurate in stating that, in all cases, a driver has shown a conscious disregard for the rights of others when getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. The applicable statute, however, is very specific concerning what the evidence must show:
- The impaired driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 percent or more at the time of the accident;
- The driver knew or should have known that drinking would impair his ability to operate a motor vehicle; and
- The driver’s intoxication was a proximate cause of the injury to or death of the plaintiff.
In some cases, drivers refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. If there is no conclusive objective data as to the driver’s BAC, Virginia law allows a court to consider subjective information.
If a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, then the court can infer that the impaired driver showed a sufficient, conscious disregard for the rights of others. For the court to accept this argument, a first-hand witness or admissible documentation must show that:
- the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident as evident from his conduct or condition;
- that at any time during the driver’s alcohol consumption he should have known that drinking would impair his ability to operate a motor vehicle; and
- the driver’s intoxication was a proximate cause of the injury or death of the victim
The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC can walk you through the steps of computing the damages available in your particular case.
The Parrish Law Firm, PLLC is On Your Side
Whether you have already made an insurance claim or not, consulting with a drunk driving accident lawyer is vital to moving forward. It is a good idea to speak with a lawyer prior to making a claim against even your own policy.
Insurance coverage can be difficult to navigate, but you do not need to handle it alone. To have an insurance industry insider review your case and discuss available resources, call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC at 571-229-1800. While money cannot rewind the clock, financial compensation can help you deal with the economic losses your family is facing.