Punitive Damages

In Virginia, punitive damages are damages above special damages or in layperson’s terms over and above the damages that are clearly identifiable on your medical bills. Punitive damages are above and beyond the regular damages such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and, property damages. When we think of punitive damages, these are the damages that are allocated to an injured party when hear the circumstance of the injury and are shocked by the audacity. Penalty damage would be another way to refer to punitive damages. If you have been in an accident where someone was "road rageing" or drunk when they caused the accident you should call a punitive damages attorney.

Virginia Law

In Virginia, punitive damages are typically available in three sets of circumstances:

“The court has examined the cases in which the Supreme Court has found sufficient evidence of willful and wanton conduct in the operation of a motor vehicle to support submission of the issue of punitive damages to the jury. All of the cases in which the Supreme Court found a sufficient factual basis for a finding of willful and wanton conduct involving operation of a motor vehicle, involved one of three scenarios: (1) excessive use of alcohol plus very dangerous driving maneuvers; (2) acts supporting a finding that the injuries were intentionally caused or (3) the defendant creating an extremely hazardous condition contrary to specialized training.” Lovelace v. Moser, 98 Va. Cir. 315, 316 (Cir. Ct. 2018)

Punitive Damages for Drunk Driving Car Accident

Drunk Driving Accident

Drunk Driving Accident

Usually, punitive damages are generated when a tortfeasor has done something that is illegal in the commission of their tort. For example, in a car accident, this is often when a drunk driver causes an accident severely injuring a client. I have represented clients for drunk driving accidents. One of my clients, was sitting at a stop light when a drunk driver slammed into her going over 35 miles per hour. The impact caused my client severe injuries. My client was forced to go to medical treatment for several months just to be able to go to work again. Needless to say, the damages were substantial. Punitive damages were applicable because the party at-fault for the injuries was committing the crime of driving while intoxicated at the time of the accident. The at-fault party later pleaded guilty to § 18.2-266. Driving motor vehicle, engine, etc., while intoxicated, etc.

Punitive Damages for "Road Rage" Car Accident

Punitive Damages Attorney

Punitive Damages Attorney

The standard for punitive damages varies. Another one of my clients was injured in a road rage accident. The at-fault party that rearended my client was swerving at my client, flicking my client the middle finger, and generally harassing my client. Fortunately, my client got this on video otherwise we would have had a difficult time proving the road rage part of the case. Road rage is a crime and amounts to aggressive driving. The at-fault driver was guilty of Virginia Criminal offense § 46.2-868.1. Aggressive driving; penalties. The Virginia code specifically references “(ii) that person is a hazard to another person or commits an offense in clause (i) with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person.”

Policy Limits for Punitive Damages

Road rage accident Lawyer

Road rage accident Lawyer

I had an additional client that initially did not report his auto accident road rage case as a road rage case to the authorities. Initially, he came to my office wanting to pursue a medical negligence case. I always provide clients or potential clients with a free consultation. While listening to my client, I realized that I could quickly help him obtain the full Uninsured Motorist Policy limits for him from his own insurance policy limits.

His circumstances where unfortunate, a road rage perpetrator was cursing at him on the road and followed him almost to his house. When he was at a stop light the road rage perpetrator rearended my client slightly. My client was forced to stop and provide the perpetrator with his information, because that is the law if you are in an auto accident. Upon exiting his vehicle and attempting to do so, my client was severely beaten up, even suffering a brain bleed. Because it was initially reported as an assault and battery and, not an auto accident injury the insurance company did a brief fact finding investigation including an examination under oath. After my clients deposition detailing the event, we were able to secure the full insurance policy limits for my client. § 18.2-57. Assault and battery; penalty

Conscious disregard for the rights of others

Virginia case law is specific on when punitive damages are available in a car accident involving an at-fault party that is far beyond the standard of mere negligence.

“In determining whether punitive damages may be considered by a jury in an automobile collision case, the trial court's inquiry is limited to ascertaining if reasonable persons could differ in their conclusion whether the defendant's negligent conduct, considered in its entirety, was so willful or wanton as to show a conscious disregard for the rights of others.” Lovelace v. Moser, 98 Va. Cir. 315, 316 (Cir. Ct. 2018).

The Standard

This standard has been repeated throughout Virginia case law. "acting consciously in disregard of another person's rights or acting with reckless indifference  to the consequences, with the defendant aware, from his knowledge of existing circumstances and conditions, that his conduct probably would cause injury to another." Griffin v. Shively, 227 Va. 317, 321, 315 S.E.2d 210, 212-13 (1984).

If you have been injured in a car accident as the result of another person’s illegal punitive conduct, you should call me for a free consultation (434) 660-9701.

Lynchburg Punitive Damages Attorney

Chris White Lawyer, LLC. is a Lynchburg, Virginia Law Firm available for free consultations in person, via Facetime, Skype, Zoom or phone (434) 660-9701. Please also check out my practice areas in Personal Injury AttorneyCriminal Defense Lawyer and, Security Clearance Attorney. At my Law Firm we focus on the best result for the client. To stay connected I have a Youtube ChannelInstagram, FacebookTwitter, LinkedInTumblrBloggerRedditRumbleTruthSocialPatreonVimeoThreadsYelp,  Avvo and Justia.

Chris White lawyer, LLC

Cellphone: (434) 660-9701

Available with appointment (434) 660-9701:

700 12th St, Lynchburg, VA 24504

100 Tradewynd Dr. Lynchburg, VA 24502

9424 Baymeadows Rd Unit 250, Jacksonville, FL 32256

1701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram