What to Know When You’ve Been in an Accident with a Drunk Driver

Texas has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in drunk driving accidents. In 2015, 483 people died and 1,005 suffered incapacitating injuries because of a drunk driver in Texas. Another 2,066 individuals experience non-incapacitating injuries, and 1,641 had “possible” injuries caused by a drunk driver.

Approximately 35 percent of all accidents involving a drunk driver in Texas resulted in injury or death. Those statistics do not reveal the heartache endured by those who lost friends and loved ones to a drunk driver, or the lives permanently altered by someone who drank too much and got behind the wheel. If you’ve been in an accident with a drunk driver, there are important things to know so that you may receive the compensation you deserve.

Personal Injury Claims

In Texas, drunk driving is a criminal offense, with mandatory jail time and financial penalties. Should the victim of a drunk driver die, the driver faces manslaughter charges. While the victim of a drunk driver wants to see the culprit paying for the crime, that does nothing for their situation. The driver’s insurance company may try to quickly settle the matter, but insurance companies want to pay claimants as little as possible.

When you are recuperating from an accident, you are worried not only about your health but your financial situation. Do not agree to any settlement with an insurance company before consulting with an attorney specializing in car accident injuries. Once you make an agreement with an insurance company, you cannot go back for further compensation.

If the insurance company will not come up with a fair settlement, you may sue the drunk driver to receive compensation. Under Texas law, you may receive compensation for:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage to the vehicle
  • Mental anguish

In addition to ordinary compensation – called damages – victims of drunk drivers may also receive punitive damages. Punitive literally means “punish,” and that is what these damages do – punish the driver for behaving in such a reckless manner.

Your attorney monitors the criminal case against the driver closely. If the driver is convicted, that fact helps your personal injury case.

Drunk Driver & Wrongful Death Claims

If your parent, spouse or child was killed by a drunk driver, you have the standing to file a wrongful death suit. No other parties may bring wrongful death claims under Texas law. If a personal injury suit is filed and the victim dies from the related injuries, the suit can become a wrongful death claim. Damages may include:

  • Financial loss
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of inheritance – what the person may have left to the spouse or children over the course of a normal lifespan.

Dram Shop Liability

Depending on the circumstances, plaintiffs may file suit against the bar or restaurant that served an obviously intoxicated individual who then drove drunk and caused a crash. Under the Texas Dram Ship Liability Act, such a business may be held financially liable for motor vehicle damage, injuries or death resulting from continuing to serve the intoxicated person responsible for the accident.

Contact a DWI Accident Attorney in Irving TX

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, contact Dashner Law Firm today for a free consultation. We will advise you of your options going forward.