Sadly, when it comes to highway safety, this holiday season is not starting too well for Virginia drivers. According to numbers recently released by the Virginia State Police, 11 people died over Thanksgiving weekend as a result of traffic accidents on state highways.
Although Thanksgiving traffic fatalities are down this year when compared to the 14 deaths that occurred during the same period in 2012 - the highest since 2009 - the double-digit casualty total still demonstrates that much still needs to be done to improve traffic safety in Virginia.
For instance, many of the recent traffic deaths were the result of accidents in which the victims were not wearing their seatbelts. Specifically, eight of the 11 dead were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their accidents.
Even worse, the Virginia State Police report that alcohol was a contributing factor in at least four of the recent fatal Virginia car accidents. Unfortunately, these alcohol-related accidents come as little surprise given that drunk driving is an epidemic that has plagued Virginia roadways for many years.
Dangers of drunk driving in Virginia
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 229 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Virginia in 2012, with an additional 5,861 injuries. Sadly, these nearly 6,000 drunk driving injuries represent a 7 percent increase from 2011 when only 5,465 alcohol-related traffic injuries were recorded.
Ultimately, many of those injured in Virginia drunk driving accidents must seek medical treatment, which can result in thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Consequently, it is important for Virginia motorists to know what their remedies may be if injured by a drunk driver so they do not end up footing the bill for accidents that were in no way their fault.
First, victims of drunk driving accidents can seek damages in civil court against the drunk driver for any injuries sustained, including damages to cover medical bills and lost wages. However, it is important to note that Virginia is unfortunately one of the few states that does not permit victims of drunk driving accidents to hold bars and taverns liable if they over served alcohol to the drunk driver prior to the accident - a form of legal responsibility otherwise known as Dram Shop liability.
In fact, while Virginia law expressly states that it is a misdemeanor for bars to sell alcoholic beverages to a patron that is already intoxicated, courts in Virginia have routinely held that Dram Shop liability does not exist if this same drunk bar patron leaves the bar and injures another in a drunk driving car accident.
Legal assistance is available
It is important for Virginia motorists to stay safe on the roads this holiday season. However, if you or a loved one is tragically and unexpectedly injured in a drunk driving accident, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced drunk driving accident attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in navigating confusing laws and help pursue all damages you may be entitled to.