back and spinal injury

Atkinson Law Gets $15,000 Settlement for Newport News Man Hit By Drunk Driver

Soft tissue injuries only

Atkinson Law recently settled a punitive damages claim for a client injured in car accident by a drunk driver. The drunk driver, who also had no car insurance, was attempting to make a right turn onto a one-way street. He even attempted to flee the scene but passed out.

The client suffered back and neck pain. Thankfully, through chiropractic care, he was able to make a full recovery.

Because of the uninsured motorist’s intoxication, our client was entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are damages exceeding simple compensation (medical cost reimbursements, loss of wages, even pain and suffering) and are awarded to punish the defendant for unusually reckless behavior.

Recent amendments to Virginia Code Section 8.01-44.5 added language creating a rebuttable presumption that the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of an accident was at least as high as the test result as shown in a valid breath-test.

In presenting a punitive damages drunk driving claim, evidence of similar conduct by the same defendant after the date of personal injury or death arising from the operation of the motor vehicle, is admissible for determining the appropriate amount of punitive damages to deter the defendant and others from similar action. In other words, a judge or jury can consider the question of how much money it would take to teach the defendant a lesson.

Atkinson Law has extensive knowledge and understanding of Virginia personal injury law including the application of punitive damages and drunk driving accidents. Many victims of drunk drivers may be entitled to punitive damages and not even know it. If you or a friend is in an accident with a drunk driver, call Atkinson Law and discuss the case to see what its real monetary value is. Car insurance companies will not simply tell you this without an attorney helping you.

Norfolk Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Norfolk Motorcycle Crash Case Settles for $61,000

It’s the time of year when I like to review some of the more interesting cases I’ve handled and assess the results.  One of my better cases this year concerned a young Navy medical corpsman.  One evening a large SUV (sport utility vehicle, in this case a Cadillac Escalade) pulled out in front of him when he was driving home on his motorcycle.  He tried to avoid a collision, but struck the rear of the Escalade.  The driver of the Escalade admitted fault at the scene and received a ticket for failure to yield right of way.

My client was immediately hospitalized.  He suffered a number of injuries, including multiple transverse fractures of the upper spinal vertebrae.  He stayed at a local Sentara Hospital for seven days.  Even after discharge, he had extreme limitations in his activities.  He ultimately made a full recovery after lots of physical therapy.

Many interesting points can be made about this case.  From the personal injury attorney’s point of view, perhaps the most significant was the issue of liability insurance coverage limits.  My client was allowed to “stack” two policies: the liability coverage from the negligent driver’s policy, and the underinsured coverage from the client’s significantly larger automobile liability policy.  Even though the client’s automobile policy was not a motorcycle policy (he had a motorcycle policy that was much smaller) he was allowed to use it under Virginia law for underinsurance purposes.

Citing Virginia Code section 38.2-2206, I first convinced the negligent driver’s insurance company to tender the limits of the entire insurance policy.  Then I approached my client’s own insurance company and pointed out that they would be responsible for attorney fees if the case went to trial, and sure enough, we got a settlement that my client was happy with.

I think this case show that even when there is clear-cut negligence accompanied by serious bodily injuries, one should always contact an attorney in order to maximize recovery.  To most people, the concepts and laws behind underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage are not familiar.  I would advise every driver to have as much liability insurance as possible and to contact a lawyer if they are injured by another’s negligence in an automobile accident.

Disclaimer: every personal injury case is different; no specific dollar value or results are guaranteed.