young people drinking in a bar If you have been injured in a car accident and the other driver was deemed to be impaired or under the influence of alcohol, you might wonder if you can sue those who served the driver for being partially responsible for the accident. Laws that allow you to hold bars, restaurants, and hosts responsible for harm caused by a drunk driving crash are known as “dram shop” or “social host” liability laws, but Virginia does not have such laws.

What Is a Dram Shop Law?

“Dram” is a way we used to measure liquids. A dram shop refers to any commercial establishment that serves alcohol. In some states, if someone of legal drinking age leaves an establishment and gets into an accident, the bar, restaurant, or even the bartender could theoretically be part of a personal injury case where the person injured in the accident sues for damages. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth of Virginia does not recognize dram shop laws, meaning you cannot include an establishment or its workers as part of your personal injury case after a DUI accident.

Private Parties and DUI Accidents

In some cases, if the driver of legal age involved in a DUI accident case was leaving a private party or gathering in someone’s home, accident victims can not only sue the driver but the owners of the home or hosts of the party where the driver was before they left and caused the accident. These are called “social host” liability laws. While some states allow these people to be included in a lawsuit to recover damages after a DUI accident, Virginia does not have social host laws.

Who Can I Sue in My Virginia DUI Accident Case?

After a Virginia DUI accident, if the driver who caused the accident is found to have been impaired, they can be held responsible for costs related to the accident. These damages are usually paid out of liability insurance policies. If the driver did not have insurance, your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage comes into play. This can help pay for expenses and damages from the accident.

If you are the victim of a drunk driving accident in Virginia, you need an experienced car accident lawyer who understands the details of Virginia law to help you recover damages

Unique Car Insurance Laws in Virginia

While bars, restaurants, and party hosts are protected from lawsuits if their customers are driving drunk, you can still bring a civil lawsuit against the driver.

Virginia is unique in that drivers are not required to carry auto insurance at all. Instead, a driver may pay an annual fee to the DMV instead of having insurance. If you carry auto insurance, your policy must include uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage is required in more than 20 states and is designed to protect and cover you if you’re hit by an uninsured driver. 

Drunk driving accidents can leave families forever changed and cause debilitating injuries—or even death. Being the victim of a drunk driving accident can show how important it is to have auto insurance. Expenses related to an accident can be massive and may be able to be recovered from insurance with the help of an experienced Virginia DUI accident lawyer. Damages can include repairs to your vehicle, lost wages from time away from work due to doctor’s appointments and or medical treatment, medical expenses, and more. 

Why You Need an Accident Lawyer

Insurance companies—even your own—have a goal to pay out the least amount possible for any claim. They may try to get you to accept a quick settlement amount that may be much less than what you might be entitled to under the law. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer on your car accident civil case will ensure your best interests are represented throughout the case. They work on gathering evidence for your case, handle negotiations with insurance, and inform you of proposed settlement amounts. They will even represent you at trial if necessary. 

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