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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.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

In my years of practicing accident injury law, two questions come up the most: how long will my personal injury case take and how much money will I get?

Major factors shaping the value of your personal injury case include the nature of the injury, whether it is permanent, your health insurance and/or car insurance carrier, the amount of your medical bills, and whether or not the issue of liability is clear.  Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash may involve an emergency room visit with x-rays or CT scans and physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. If the injury heals in a few weeks or months, a very rough estimate of the claim’s value is the total of the medical bills multiplied by two or three.  To reiterate, this is a very rough guideline, not a guarantee, and the other factors mentioned above can change this equation drastically.

For permanent injuries the rough formula of medical bills times two or three is usually too low.  More factors come into play, such as loss of earning capacity, loss of quality of life, and future medical expenses.

In both types of injury, the permanent and non-permanent, liability, or the issue of who was at fault, serves as a potential limitation of claim value.  Where both the personal injury plaintiff and the defendant were driving vehicles and both claimed to have had a green light at an intersection, the chance of an outright loss for the plaintiff can significantly discount the value of the claim.

One factor that contributes to the value of your injury claim is the lawyer and law firm representing you. This factor is often overlooked or misunderstood.  Personal injury firms in Hampton Roads and Virginia may boast about having a great reputation or the resources to pursue your claim aggressively.  As in so many other aspects of life, the bark and the bite are not coextensive, that is, loudness and quality of representation do not directly correlate.   A law firm’s name or lawyer’s name means little to a juror, and can even be harmful.

There is no such thing as a personal injury settlement calculator.  Every case is unique and will have its own strengths as well as challenges.  In the final analysis, an injury claim is worth whatever the jury says.  Having a skilled car accident attorney will maximize your claim’s value, whether it settles out of court or goes before a judge and jury.