How Punitive Damages Can Help You Recover Financially After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver in Virginia

How Punitive Damages Can Help You Recover Financially After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver in Virginia

Being involved in a car accident can be a harrowing experience, especially when it was caused by a drunk driver. In Virginia, the law provides that victims of such accidents can receive compensation for the damages and injuries they have suffered, including punitive damages. But what exactly are punitive damages, and how can they increase your financial recovery? In this blog post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about punitive damages and how they can help you recover financially after being hit by a drunk driver in Virginia.

What Are Punitive Damages?

First, let’s define what punitive damages are. Punitive damages are additional compensation awarded to a victim of an accident that goes beyond compensation for actual damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which reimburse the victim for actual costs and expenses, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their misconduct and to serve as a deterrent to others. In the case of a drunk driving accident, if the driver was found to be grossly negligent or reckless, punitive damages may be awarded.

Virginia Law

In Virginia, there are specific laws that govern the use of punitive damages. In order to be eligible for these damages, the victim must prove that the defendant (i.e. the drunk driver) acted with “willful and wanton negligence”. This means that the driver acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others and knew, or should have known, that their actions could cause harm. If this can be proven, the court may award punitive damages in addition to any other compensation that the victim may be entitled to.

The amount of punitive damages that a victim can receive is limited by law in Virginia. The maximum amount that can be awarded is $350,000. However, in cases where the defendant was found to have acted with malice towards the victim, there is no limit to the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded.

Punitive Damages Versus Compensatory Damages

One of the benefits of punitive damages is that they can significantly increase the amount of compensation that a victim receives. Unlike other types of damages, such as compensatory damages, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victim for their losses. Instead, they are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. As a result, the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded can be much higher than other types of damages.

Seeking Legal Assistance

If you were hit by a drunk driver in Virginia, it’s important to seek the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney. Your lawyer can help prove that the driver was grossly negligent or reckless and therefore liable for punitive damages. This can significantly increase your financial recovery and help you move forward after such a traumatic experience.


It’s worth noting that not all cases involving drunk driving accidents will result in the award of punitive damages. In order to be eligible, there must be clear evidence of gross negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver. Your attorney will have to show that the driver had a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit, was driving erratically, or engaged in other dangerous behaviors that caused the accident.

Virginia Beach Car Accident Attorney

Being involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is a traumatic experience that can leave you with serious injuries and financial hardships. While compensatory damages can help cover your actual expenses, punitive damages can be a valuable tool to punish the driver for their gross negligence and provide you with additional compensation.

If you were hit by a drunk driver in Virginia, be sure to consult an experienced car accident attorney to help you navigate the complex legal system and increase your financial recovery. With the right guidance and support, you can move forward after a difficult experience and get the compensation you deserve. Contact Deering Hedrick today by calling 757-317-5677.

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