On Monday, May 30, 2011, passenger Juan Argueta was injured in a drunken car crash. Driver Miguel Salazar drove drunk and collided with a telephone poll off of Old Lynchburg Rd. around 12pm. Argueta was propelled through the windshield upon impact. Salazar has been charged with DUI and driving without a license. Argueta was charged with not wearing a seat belt and currently is still being held at the UVA Medical Center. However, they do not believe the injuries he sustained are life threatening.
The victims of drunk driving can’t always receive damages for their injuries. If the passenger of the vehicle knew that the driver was drunk, then he likely cannot recover for his injuries because he would have “assumed the risk.”
Assumption of risk means that Argueta knew that Salazar was drunk, and his voluntary act of getting into the car means that he assumed the risk of riding with a drunk driver. If this was the case, then Argueta could not receive any restitution.
Punitive damages can also be an issue in a potential case against the driver if the BAC was greater than .15. In a case where the BAC is greater than .15, Virginia law allows the injured party to make a claim for punitive damages.