Do You Know Your Rights And Legal Options After Being Hit By A Drunk Driver?
At Sethi & Sledd, PLLC, our attorneys have more than 30 years of combined legal experience representing injury victims in Virginia and DC. Drunk driving accidents are some of the most heartbreaking cases we encounter, and we work tirelessly to help victims and their families seek full and fair compensation.
On this page, you’ll find important information about your rights and legal options as the victim of a negligent drunk driver. After reading, please contact us for case-specific advice and guidance.
Criminal Charges Do Not Limit Your Ability To File A Civil Suit
When drunk drivers cause an accident that injures or kills others, they deserve to face criminal consequences. But criminal charges do almost nothing to compensate victims financially. That’s where the civil court system comes in.
Even when the drunk driver has been criminally charged, you can pursue a separate civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. And, in the unlikely event that the driver is criminally acquitted, that outcome doesn’t necessarily prevent you from being awarded compensation. The standard of guilt is lower in civil court than in criminal court, so the driver may be considered civilly liable despite evading criminal punishment.
Compensation For Your Injuries And Losses
Clients often ask us what their case is worth. But because every case is unique, we won’t know the answer to that question until we dig into the details. We can help you seek compensation for all of your injuries and losses, including:
- Medical expenses (present and future)
- Lost wages from time spent unable to work
- Loss of earning capacity if the accident left you with a disability
- Damage to your vehicle and other property
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability and or disfigurement
In a wrongful death lawsuit, plaintiffs can seek compensation for many of the damages listed above, as well as additional damages related to their loved one’s death, like funeral and burial costs.
You May Be Able To Seek Punitive Damages
In most personal injury lawsuits, victims can seek compensatory damages (like those mentioned above) but are generally not able to seek punitive damages – damages meant to punish the person who committed the harm. Drunk driving cases are often a notable exception.
In Virginia, an injury victim can seek punitive damages if they can show that the at-fault party acted with “willful and wanton negligence.” In a drunk driving accident case, a jury might be convinced to impose punitive damages if the drunk driver’s behavior was particularly shocking, like driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher.
Punitive damages are not guaranteed, and Virginia law caps punitive damages at $350,000. However, they may be available in your drunk driving case.
Contact Us Today To Learn More
Sethi & Sledd, PLLC is a personal injury firm serving clients throughout Virginia. To schedule an initial consultation about your case, please call our office in Reston at 703-214-9671 or fill out our online contact form.