If you or someone you love has been hurt because of a drunken driver, you know more than anyone else what a danger these drivers pose on Virginia’s roads.  After a serious crash involving an intoxicated driver, you may be wondering where to turn for help.

While we can’t do much for your injuries and the devastation you feel after a crash, we can assure you that it is possible to hold drunken drivers accountable for their negligence.  Not only that, more than just the drunken driver is responsible.  Restaurants and bars that over-serve patrons, vehicle passengers who knowingly let intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel, and city or state governments who build unsafe roads can all be held accountable, as the following cases show.A

$18.5 million jury award for drunk driving accident victim

In Colorado, a jury awarded $18.5 million to a man who suffered terrible injuries after being hit by a Jeep driver who was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.  At the time of the crash, the victim was in his own driveway changing the oil in his wife’s car.  Not only that, but the intoxicated driver, Kevin Ruszkowski, 24, had no license.  He had already lost his license for a previous instance of driving misconduct.

As a result of being hit, the victim, Paul Savage, 46, was left as a “functioning paraplegic”, confined to a wheelchair.  His injuries are so severe that his medical bills are estimated at about $4.3 million already, with $4.9 million more coming in the future.

This case was interesting because not only did the lawsuit hold the driver accountable for the collision, but it also named the owner of the Jeep and the owner’s son as defendants.  The lawsuit alleged that the Jeep owner’s son permitted Ruszkowski to drive knowing that he was drinking and smoking marijuana.  The owner’s son also fled the scene of the crime along with Ruszkowski.

In addition to the big jury award, what penalties will the drunk driver face for his negligence?  After pleading guilty to vehicular assault / DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, he was sentenced to six years for the first charge and four for the second.  His sentence was reduced to four years of intense supervised probation after successful completion of boot camp.  This is another reality of drunk driving cases: the punishment does not always fit the crime.

$40 million jury award for parents of boy killed by a drunk driver

In another recent tragedy, an Arizona family was awarded $40 million by a jury after their son was killed by a drunk driver.  In this case, the city of Tucson taxpayers will pay for a third of the award, and the intoxicated driver and the restaurant where he was drinking will pay the rest.

You might be wondering why the city was involved in this lawsuit.  This is another interesting case: the attorney for the family claimed that poor road design was part of the reason that the boy, 14-year-old Jose Rincon, was killed. 

Also of note is that the establishment where the drunk driver had been drinking was held accountable for their role.  In this case, they settled separately with the family for an undisclosed amount.  As for the driver, Glenda Rumsey, whose BAC was three times the legal limit two hours after the accident, she was sentenced to fourteen years in jail.

Get real help from lawyers who care and get results

These high-profile cases feature unusually high awards and circumstances that highlight the tragic nature of drunk driving cases.  As you can see from these two examples, it isn’t always just the drunk driver who can be held accountable after a serious wreck. 

Please contact the skilled, compassionated personal injury attorneys at the Warrenton and Culpeper based law offices of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas to find out how we can help you put your life back together after a DUI-related accident.

Andrew Thomas
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Civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

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