It is against the law in Virginia to drag race on public streets. This type of reckless driving can result in serious penalties for the driver who engages in this illegal activity. But it also puts all those commuters who are sharing the road with that driver at risk of serious injury and even death from the horrific crashes that often occur when cars are pushed to excessive speeds. According to national statistics, reckless driving is one of the main causes of vehicle accidents.
When a driver engaged in reckless driving causes a crash, the victims from that accident are entitled to pursue damages against that driver for any losses their injuries have caused them.
In order to be successful in their claim, the victim – usually with the assistance of a Virginia car accident attorney – must prove four elements to their claim. These elements are:
- The at-fault driver owed a duty to care to the victim. In the majority of cases, this is often a general stipulation since the law has already determined that drivers on the same road owe each other (and any occupants on other vehicles or pedestrians) a duty of care.
- The at-fault driver breached that duty of care.
- It was the actions of the at-fault driver – in this case, their engaging in drag racing or other reckless driving – that caused a breach in that duty of care.
- This breach resulted in harm to the victim. This harm is not just limited to physical harm. Victims can also pursue damages for emotional harm (i.e. depression, post-traumatic stress disorder) and property damage.
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Pursuing a Car Crash Claim
When a crash occurs because a driver was street racing, they will likely face criminal charges and potential penalties. When a driver is charged with street racing, it is usually charged as a misdemeanor. The potential penalties for a conviction include suspension of their driver’s license for six months to two years, court fees, and six demerit points on their driving record for 11 years. They could also face jail time, depending on their criminal history.
If a victim was injured or killed in the crash, then the driver would be charged with felony racing. A conviction could result in a prison sentence of one to five years, however, if the victim died, then the driver faces a prison sentence of between one to 20 years.
Criminal charges for a reckless driver are separate than civil actions victims can pursue for their injuries. It is advised that the victim does not wait for the resolution of the criminal charges to be resolved because this could interfere with the statute of limitations Virginia law places on how long a victim has to file a personal injury case.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.