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Additional Damages Punish Drunk Drivers in Virginia

My hometown motivates me to work hard for my client and get results.- John Cooper

Attorney at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers

Additional Damages Punish Drunk Drivers in Virginia

Virginians are injured in car accidents caused by drunk drivers far too often.  A recent survey by the Virginia Highway Safety Office found that there were 7,591 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in the Commonwealth during 2015.  If you or a loved one is injured by a drunk driver, you may understandably feel a lot of anger and a sense of injustice. Fortunately, you may be entitled to additional damages to punish drunk drivers in Virginia.

The statistics amount to over 20 alcohol-related crashes a day.  Even more alarming are the study’s statistics regarding fatalities.

While alcohol-related crashes amounted to approximately 6 percent of all accidents in Virginia during 2015, they accounted for 34 percent of all accident deaths.  In 2015, 241 people were killed as a result of drunk driving in Virginia.

damages punish drunk drivers in Virginia

Punitive damages punish drunk drivers in Virginia

That’s 241 sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and friends whose lives were cut short due to drunk driving.  As a lawyer at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, I regularly witness the tragic consequences of drunk driving as I help my clients who have been terribly hurt or families who have lost a loved one, through the difficult process of holding the at-fault driver responsible for his or her actions.

Unfortunately, increased criminal punishment for DUI offenses has not had the effect of keeping drunk drivers off the road.  Every day, criminal defendants are sentenced to jail time by judges in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News.

Still, people continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated.  Nor has the development of ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft significantly decreased the number of DUI deaths in Virginia.  We as a community need to send an even stronger message that we are tired of drunk driving and its awful effects, and as criminal penalties do not seem to be getting the message across, it is time that we focus on financial penalties.

Damages Punish Drunk Drivers in Virginia – Punitive Damages

Virginia law authorizes the award of “punitive” damages up to $350,000 against a drunk driver under certain circumstances.  These damages are intended to punish drunk drivers in Virginia and to deter others in the community from driving drunk.

Those injured by drunk drivers have a right to have their cases heard by a jury composed of people from our communities and we need to send a harsh message that drunk driving will not be tolerated by awarding punitive damages.  Not all cases qualify for punitive damages. This measure is reserved for drivers who refused to take a BAC test, or had a Blood/Alcohol content of .15 percent or above.

If you have been injured by a drunk driver and want assistance in sending a clear message that Hampton Roads will no longer tolerate drunk driving, please contact me at (757) 455-0077 so we can work together to hold drunk drivers responsible and protect our neighbors.

Griff O'Hanlon

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John Cooper

John Cooper is a veteran of personal injury law practice in Virginia. A native Virginian, he was raised in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He has more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury cases and recently handled the largest auto accident settlement in 2010, according to VA Lawyers Weekly. The award provided $3.5 million to a child whose young father died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was rear-ended by a careless truck driver.

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Jim Hurley

Jim Hurley has been practicing law throughout Virginia for more than two-and-a-half decades. During his career, he has tried more than 100 jury trials — a staggering number — and handled hundreds more that were settled out of court. He is guided by the principle that the client is in charge of his or her case and should be kept fully aware of the litigation process. Jim has been awarded an AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating given, for his practice of law. He was named in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2014, 2015, 2016.

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Bill O’mara

Bill O’Mara started his legal career in 2008, moving back to his home town of Chesapeake, VA. He has practiced in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury and other litigation. He has gained extensive court room and trial experience, including contested trials before judges and juries across Hampton Roads. In 2014, Mr. O’Mara joined Injury Lawyers as an associate attorney. He became a partner in 2017.

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