High School Track & Cheerleader gets punitive damages verdict in head-on crash with drunk driver; award for AGGRAVATION of pre-existing condition

in a lighthearted manner. Plaintiff had minimal medical bills ($764.98) but her chiropractor testified that her pre-existing scoliosis was made much worse and would require some $10,000 in future chiropractic care. There was also testimony from friends and family of the mental impact on plaintiff, including fear of driving at night and the impact on plaintiff’s ability to participate in cheerleading and track. The plaintiff’s last demand was $75,000, however, the insurance companies would only offer $55,000, so the case was tried. According to the Virginia Lawyers Weekly report, the jury returned with a verdict of $280,764.98.

Liability (fault) was admitted and defendant presented no expert witnesses. Defendant argued that plaintiff’s scoliosis would have gotten worse anyway and that defendant had already been punished adequately by the criminal justice system. Leesburg car crash and injury lawyer Landau noted that one case has absolutely nothing to do with the other. The criminal case is brought by the “Commonwealth of Virginia” against Defendant motorist. The civil action is brought by the injured victim in order to recover compensation for losses caused by the Defendant’s conduct. The award of punitive damages are not only meant to punish the Defendant drunk driver, but to deter future conduct by him and others, as well as to compensate for his willful, wanton and reckless misconduct. It is not easy to get a judge to permit a jury to award punitive damages in a personal injury case in Virginia. However, Landau adds, when the facts are egregious, the Courts of Virginia are empowered to let such questions go to the jury.

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