At The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C, we believe that just one DWI-related death is too many. Our lawyers commit their professional lives to securing justice and financial compensation for Texans with injuries from drunk drivers. Please contact our Texas DWI lawyers to schedule a free consultation and see how our team can help you.
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is against the law in all 50 states. Yet every year, thousands of people die or suffer catastrophic injuries because of drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In Texas in 2016, 987 people died in motor vehicle accidents involving a DWI driver.
How an Attorney Can Help Victims of Drunk Driving
An attorney can be your support system, counselor, and confidant after a devastating DWI accident in Texas. Personal injury attorneys work for you, not for insurance companies or law enforcement. When you retain a car accident lawyer, you enter into a legally binding contract that requires the attorney to act only in your best interests. At our law firm, we don’t need paperwork to tell us to act on our clients’ behalf. Standing up for injured accident victims is why attorney Aaron A. Herbert started the firm years ago.
Our legal team works hard every day to secure the best possible compensation awards for people with injuries due to the negligence or recklessness of others. Drinking and driving is an act of recklessness that no driver should get away with. Drunk drivers cannot control their vehicles or react to changing roadway conditions. This drastically increases the risk of serious car accidents, such as head-on collisions and wrong-way crashes. Our attorneys will investigate your case and do everything we can to bring the DWI driver to justice.
When you retain a lawyer from our firm, you can immediately feel the burden of your case lifted from your shoulders. You no longer have to worry about filing a personal injury claim, proving the DWI driver’s fault, or negotiating with insurance companies that don’t have your best interests at heart. We will take care of all the elements of your claim for you so you can focus on healing. We’ll deal directly with insurers regarding your DWI accident claim, striving to reach a substantial settlement out of the courtroom. If necessary, we can take your case to court to achieve the best possible results.
Legal Options When a Drunk Driver Hits You in Texas
After suffering injuries in a crash involving an intoxicated driver, you will need to go to the hospital, speak to police, and call your car insurance company. The journey that lies between you and financial recovery can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right personal injury attorney by your side, the legal process can be much simpler and stress-free. A lawyer can walk you through your legal options after a DWI crash, including filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, bringing a lawsuit against the driver in the civil court, and/or holding other parties responsible as well.
In the days following a drunk driving crash, the at-fault driver’s insurer may try to convince you to accept a fast settlement offer. Resist the urge to do so until you’ve at least talked to an attorney. The initial offer is likely much less than your injuries and pain and suffering are actually worth. Hire an attorney to take over insurance settlement negotiations on your behalf. Our attorneys will make sure insurers don’t take advantage of you – even taking your case to court if necessary for fair compensation.
The Process of a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit
The legal process begins the moment you are hit by a drunk driver. A drunk driving accident is unlike typical ‘accidents’ and the defendant typically knows that their behavior was illegal. Your claim does not end with the driver being arrested, it has only just begun. An arrest proves liability, but proving damages and getting sufficient coverage can be more complicated. Contact a lawyer immediately after being hit by a drunk driver, and let their experience guide you through the process. While insurance companies will work against you, the actions of a drunk driver are negligent and can result in criminal punishment, punitive damages, and other civil litigations.
Texas lawyers are committed to defending victims of a DWI/ DUI. Once your claim has been filed, an investigator will analyze the events related the accident, such as the defendant’s background and where the defendant became intoxicated, as well as gathering facts from any witnesses involved. The legal team could also subpoena the arresting officer for testimony about the condition of the defendant at the time of the crash. There is no part of the legal process that a Texas attorney will not perform. They will gather medical and vocational experts to analyze how the injuries affect your health and, therefore, your earning potential. They will also be available for regular contact with their clients throughout every step of the case.
How To Have a Valid DWI Accident Claim
Drunk driving claims in Texas are almost always negligence claims, but negligence must still be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The injured must prove four things to validate negligence.
- There must be a legal duty.
- The legal duty must be breached.
- There must be an injury to the individual filing the claim.
- The breach by the defendant caused the injury to the plaintiff.
The fourth requirement is the most difficult to prove. There must be a distinct cause-effect relationship between the actions and the injuries, such that if the actions had not occurred, nor would have the injuries. Proximate cause can also make the claim difficult, proximate cause being that the injury was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant. In most drunk driving cases, actual and proximate cause are mostly straightforward. Drunk driving alone makes it clear and foreseeable that an accident is possible while diving intoxicated.
What Compensation Could I Receive?
Texas does not take drunk driving lightly. If you are hit by a drunk driver, proving impairment alone allows you to pursue punitive damages for obvious negligence. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter them from repeating the same behavior. Punitive damages may include lost wages, medical bills, disabilities, and pain and suffering after a debilitating car accident. In the case of an acquittal, the driver can still be held liable and therefore required to provide compensation for your damages. An acquittal means there was not enough evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt and therefore could not charge with a DWI. There is enough proof however to make them civilly liable for causing a car accident, for which you will be compensated.
Drunk Driving Statistics in Texas
It’s frightening how many drivers get behind the wheel while intoxicated every day in Texas. Despite the knowledge that driving while intoxicated is dangerous and against the law, drivers flippantly drive drunk anyway. They wrongly assume that they are sober enough to drive, “good at” driving drunk, or that they won’t hurt anyone. Too often drunk drivers don’t recognize the true repercussions of their actions until causing an accident.
Take a look at some of the DWI accident statistics in Texas over the years:
- From 2003 to 2012, 13,138 Texans died in car accidents involving drunk drivers. The rate of DWI accident deaths was higher than the national average in all age groups for this time, as was the percentage of drivers who report driving after drinking too much in the past 30 days (2.1% vs. 1.9%).
- Every 20 minutes in Texas, someone dies or suffers injuries in a DWI-related auto accident. In 2016, 638 DUI drivers, 143 passengers of DUI drivers, 149 victims in other vehicles, and 56 bicyclists and pedestrians lost their lives in Texas DWI accidents.
- In 2016, the hour from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. reported the highest number of drunk driving accidents in Texas. Saturdays were the most dangerous days on the road due to DWI drivers.
- “Operation Blackout” during the 2017 Memorial Day weekend in Montgomery County resulted in the arrests of 62 alleged drunk drivers in just five days. Ten of these drivers were second-time offenders and four had two or more prior DWI arrests.
Texas isn’t the only state to report increases in the number of drunk driving accidents. The rate of drunk drivers on the roads has increased nationwide in recent years. In 2016, 10,497 people died in accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers around the country. If you or a loved one has become a victim of a DWI accident in Texas, you have the right to stand up against the at-fault driver in a civil court. Bringing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the drunk driver could result in significant financial compensation for your family.
Drunk Driving Liability Laws
After a harmful drunk driving crash, the obvious party liable (or legally responsible) for the accident is the intoxicated driver. The driver is the party that consumed too much alcohol before operating a motor vehicle, recklessly and wantonly endangered the lives of everyone else on the road, and broke a roadway rule and caused the crash. It is possible to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault drunk driver in Texas even if a criminal case against the individual remains open. If you can prove the following four elements, the courts will likely find the drunk driver liable for your accident and related injuries:
- The defendant (the party allegedly at fault) owed you a duty of care. All drivers owe other drivers a duty to take reasonable care when operating motor vehicles. As soon as the driver got behind the wheel, he or she assumed these duties.
- The driver breached his/her duty of care. Proving the drunk driver’s fault may require evidence such as the results of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test the night of the crash. A BAC of 0.08% or higher is against the law in Texas for the average driver, while the limit decreases to 0.04% for commercial drivers and any detectable amount for drivers under the age of 21. Other evidence from the police report can also help.
- The driver’s breach of duty caused your crash. You must show that the drunk driver’s actions were the proximate cause of your car accident. This might take an investigation into how the crash occurred, as well as help from officers, witnesses, or experts to prove that the crash would not have happened but for the drunk driver’s actions.
- You suffered damages as a result. Finally, you must show that you suffered compensable damages in the accident. In Texas, this can include medical bills, physical injuries, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
These four elements remain constant as a burden of proof for a personal injury plaintiff in Texas. DWI crash liability, however, might not only fall on the driver. Texas has dram shop laws that make it possible to hold the provider of the alcohol liable for a DWI accident as well. If a restaurant, bar, or social host furnishes alcohol to an individual already visibly intoxicated or underage, he or she may be legally responsible for the resultant actions of the individual. It may be possible to hold both the drunk driver and the provider of alcohol liable for your recent accident depending on the circumstances.
Other possible at-fault parties may include a third-party driver or the manufacturer of a defective vehicle part. Holding more than one party “jointly and severally liable” in Texas means that all responsible parties will owe you the full amount of a compensation award. This benefits you as the victim. A conversation with one of our attorneys can help you determine all possible liable parties for your recent crash.
Problem Areas in Texas
As one might expect, the “red zones” for drunk driving accidents in Texas tend to coincide with the state’s major metropolitan areas. The Lone Star State’s big cities have higher populations, and therefore report higher numbers of traffic collisions and DWI accidents. In 2016, the cities that recorded the highest numbers of drunk driving crashes in Texas were as follows:
- San Antonio: 1,845
- Houston: 1,492
- Austin: 1,432
- Dallas: 1,310
- El Paso: 758
When navigating the roads in Texas cities, stay cautious and aware of your surroundings. Avoid driving late at night, as this timeframe involves the majority of DWI crashes occur. On urban roads, keep a safe distance away from other vehicles. On rural roads, drive defensively when vehicles in the opposite lane approach. Prepare for the vehicle to swerve or drift into oncoming traffic. Always call 911 to report a suspected drunk driver in Texas.
Call (214) 200-HURT for a Free DWI Accident Consultation
To further understand your legal options following a drunk driving accident in Texas, call The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. to request a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our lawyers will meet you at your home, the hospital, or in one of our conveniently located Texas offices to discuss your case in detail. We can help you learn your rights as a crash victim or the family member of a deceased loved one and take prompt legal action in pursuit of damage recovery. Call (214) 200-HURT or submit our online contact form to schedule your consultation today. We look forward to helping you during this difficult time.