Driving while intoxicated is a dangerous and reckless driver behavior that causes thousands of injuries and deaths in Texas every year. In 2018 alone, 961 people in Texas lost their lives due to drunk drivers. This represented 26% of all car accident deaths in 2018. If you get into an accident with a drunk driver in San Antonio, Texas, find out what happens next to prepare for the process ahead.
The Drunk Driver Could Face Criminal Charges
First, the drunk driver could face criminal charges for breaking Texas’ driving while intoxicated (DWI) law. It is illegal in Texas to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content level at or above 0.08%. A driver could also be guilty of DWI with a lesser blood alcohol content level if he or she is too impaired to drive.
The driver may get arrested for drunk driving at the scene of your car accident. Call the police right away if you suspect the driver who hit you is drunk. If the driver is found guilty of DWI, your DWI accident attorney in San Antonio or a drunk driving attorney in fort worth can use the conviction as evidence during your civil case against the driver. However, there does not need to be an arrest for you to make a civil claim in San Antonio.
You Have the Right to File a Civil Suit Against the Drunk Driver
A civil lawsuit can reimburse you and your family for the economic and noneconomic damages connected to a drunk driving accident. A civil lawsuit is different from a criminal case against the defendant. A civil case can make you whole again by providing financial compensation for past and future losses, while a criminal case punishes the defendant.
A successful civil lawsuit against a DWI driver could lead to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional anguish
- Lost wages and capacity to earn
- Vehicle repairs or totaled car replacement
- Lost enjoyment of life
In Texas, the driver at fault for causing a car accident is financially responsible for damages. It is up to the victim, however, to prove the defendant was negligent or reckless and caused the collision. You or your attorney must demonstrate using evidence that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and that this caused the crash to recover compensation.
You May Be Entitled to Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages are available to help you pay the bills, recover and move forward after an accident. Another category of damages, punitive damages, is meant to punish a defendant for gross negligence or egregious wrongdoing.
You may be eligible for punitive damages after a drunk driving car accident due to the nature of the defendant’s error. Even if the driver is not convicted of a DWI, you could receive punitive damages for the driver’s reckless decision to drink and drive.
You Could Also Hold a Negligent Bar or Restaurant Accountable
Texas has a dram shop law (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2) that may entitle you to hold a bar or restaurant accountable for your drunk driving accident in addition to the intoxicated driver. This law places liability with establishments that overserve their patrons if those patrons proceed to injure others.
If an establishment knowingly served a visibly intoxicated person or minor alcohol, and that person went on to cause a drunk driving accident, the dram shop may be held financially responsible for resulting injuries and property damage. The dram shop could be liable for contributing to the DWI accident by overserving the culprit.
Learn Your Rights After a Drunk Driving Accident in San Antonio, Texas
If a drunk driver hits you in San Antonio, Texas, you have legal rights as an injured accident victim. Consult with a car accident attorney in San Antonio for more information about your rights and legal options. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the intoxicated driver and/or other parties, such as the dram shop.
A lawyer can explain your rights, provide legal advice, and represent you during a car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Contact a car accident lawyer in Texas as soon as possible after a DWI crash for assistance.