Get Representation For Injuries Sustained By Negligent Drunk Driving
In Texas, along with all other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. Yet, Texas continues to lead the nation in DUI fatalities.
In addition to the painful emotional toll caused by DUI injuries and deaths, there is a significant economical impact on society. The estimated economic cost for all motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States is $242 billion, with alcohol-impaired collisions accounting for an additional $44 million dollars.
Included in those economic costs are some of the following:
It is important to understand your rights in a case where someone suspected of driving while intoxicated causes an accident, leading to your injury and an economic loss.
In many ways, drunk driving accidents are similar to other types of car accidents. Both involve serious injuries, an attempt to assign liability, and negotiations with insurance providers to reach a settlement.
However, drunk driving accidents are different in two important ways.
First, proof of a DWI constitutes negligence per se. This means that in order to assign liability a person injured in a drunk driving accident doesn’t have to prove all 4 elements of negligence:
Rather, the person only has to show that the defendant caused their harm (the last 2 elements of negligence).
Second, a person injured in a drunk driving accident is more likely to receive compensation than a person injured in a car accident where alcohol isn’t involved.
Punitive damages are used to punish the individual at fault and discourage others from behaving similarly. Punitive damages only apply if the defendant acted intentionally or with gross negligence. In most cases, driving while intoxicated constitutes gross negligence. Specifically, if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your case has greater validity.
Since proof of a DWI constitutes negligence per se, a driver who is intoxicated at the time of the crash will likely be held at least partially responsible for the accident.
However, there may be instances in which both drivers are held liable for the accident.
If the injured person was also negligent at the time of the accident, they may be held partially liable, although not likely to the same degree as the intoxicated driver.
Texas is what is known as a modified comparative fault state. This means that a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if your damages are $100,000, but the judge or jury finds you 30% at fault for the accident, your damages will be reduced to $70,000.
What’s more, under the modified comparative fault theory, you’re prohibited from recovering any damages if you’re found to be more than 50% at fault.
People that are acquitted (found not guilty) of crimes are often still subject to liability in a civil court. A famous example is that of OJ Simpson who was found not guilty of killing his wife and friend in the criminal court but was later found liable for killing them in a civil court and ordered to pay many millions of dollars. It is the same in a drunk driving or DWI case – an intoxicated driver causing an accident in Texas can be arrested and later found not guilty in criminal court but still be sued and found liable in a civil court. This is because there are different standards in finding guilt/liability in criminal and civil cases. Of course, in criminal cases, a defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” while in civil cases, a defendant only needs to be found liable by a “preponderance of the evidence” which means simply, more likely than not. When a drunk driver is sued for damages, even though they committed a crime, it is a civil lawsuit and the preponderance of the evidence standard applies. So, even if the drunk driver gets a good criminal defense lawyer and beats the charges, you can still sue them for damages in court. A top personal injury attorney can ensure you get compensated in such cases.
With our drunk driving lawsuit attorney, we can often recover damages from more than one party. The drunk driver himself is liable for any harm he causes. If the drunk driver had insurance, then filing a claim with his insurance company is usually the first step. However, in Texas there is also a third party that may be held liable in a drunk driver lawsuit: An establishment that breaks “Dram Shop” laws.
The dram shop law says alcohol providers can be held liable for damages caused by the intoxicated patron if it was apparent to the provider that the patron was “obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others,” and the intoxication of the patron was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.
While a DUI arrest can make it easier for a civil court to prove the driver was intoxicated at the time of an accident, it is not necessary. Our attorneys may be able to use other evidence to show that the driver’s intoxication caused the accident.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident due to the negligence of someone else, it is possible to recover financial compensation for a wide variety of expenses and financial losses related to the accident. This includes current and future medical bills, lost wages including impairment to future earning capacity, and compensation for emotional harm and loss of enjoyment of life. Our injury attorneys work with you to help carefully calculate the amount of compensation to demand.
Drivers who are under the influence of drugs other than alcohol may still be liable for damages. People who are under the influence of marijuana, street drugs, or even certain types of prescription drugs may be unable to drive safely and are responsible for the harm they cause due to their impaired driving.