June 22, 2013

Hall & Sethi Wins $200,000.00 in Punitive Damages in Drunk Driving Case

On January 9, 2013, a jury awarded over $200,000.00 to clients of Hall & Sethi in a personal injury lawsuit filed against a drunk driver who caused a car accident in 2009. The defendant, a repeat drunk driving offender, had multiple prior DWI convictions and a revoked driver's license. In addition to his criminal history, the driver had been warned earlier in the day by police not to drive and at the time of incident had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Punitive Damages are extra compensation awarded when the negligence of the defendant is so gross as to necessitate further punishment to deter the defendant from repeating the offense. They are difficult to bring in a personal injury claim and are rarely awarded by juries in Virginia.

Thankfully, the Plaintiffs only suffered minor physical injuries as a result of the accident. However, Hall & Sethi believed the driver's conduct justified bringing a claim for punitive damages so that the driver, as well as other drunk drivers, would be deterred from undertaking such reckless and wanton behavior in the future.

In the third day of trial, the jury agreed and awarded $100,000.00 in punitive damages to each plaintiff. The jury also awarded compensatory damages of $14,000.00 and $5,600.00 respectively to the two plaintiffs. Despite the relatively minor injuries, the jury clearly believed that the defendant's egregious conduct warranted punitive damages.

Following the verdict, the defendant filed a motion to reduce the amount of punitive damages for each plaintiff, arguing that the punitive damages amounts were unreasonable in comparison to the compensatory damages. After oral argument, the motion was denied as to the plaintiff with the $14,000 compensatory award, but granted as to the plaintiff with the $5,600 compensatory award. Hall & Sethi has appealed the Court's ruling. The Petition for Appeal will be argued this summer.

Hall & Sethi continues to aggressively represent their clients' interests to their fullest capabilities. Have you been injured in a car accident because of the negligence of another driver? Please visit www.hallandsethi.com for more information about the firm or contact us at 703-925-9500 for a consultation.