Despite the high number of fatalities that occur each year due to drunk driving, thousands of motorists across the country continue to consume alcohol and drive for various reasons: they live nearby the bar, they have a high alcohol tolerance, they don’t want to wait to sober up, or it’s late and the roads are clear.
As many of us know, these mentalities are nothing but justifications in the minds of intoxicated individuals to drink and drive. In 2016 alone, there were 1,438 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes. In addition, 38.1% of all fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in 2016 involved alcohol.
Steps Following an Accident With a Drunk Driver
When you are hit by an intoxicated driver, it’s essential to understand the steps you should take following the accident and the rights you have moving forward.
You should first:
Contact the police immediately. This will allow the officers to determine if the other driver is intoxicated. If so, they can be sure to take that driver off the road and put the information in a police report, which will help your case down the road. Do not try to engage with the driver, especially if he or she is noticeably intoxicated.
Document the accident scene. If you are able, try to get photos of both cars as well as other factors that may have contributed to the accident or were impacted by it, such as road signs or skip marks on the road.
Obtain witness information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, they can corroborate that the intoxicated driver’s actions resulted in the accident, such as if they were driving on the wrong side of the road or swerved into your lane.
Get medical treatment. If you were not taken by ambulance to a hospital, you should immediately seek medical treatment. Even if you do not believe you are injured, you may have internal injuries or injuries that won’t affect you until later on. Going immediately after the accident will help prove that the injuries were sustained in the accident.
How Are Victims Compensated?
In the state of Texas, a wide variety of damages are recognized when you are a victim of any car accident. Texas also recognizes the right for victims and their families to sue for punitive damages in cases that involved intoxication. Manslaughter charges may be first brought against the drunk driver if anyone dies in the accident or as a result of it.
A conviction for driving under the influence will, typically, automatically establish the facts to sue for punitive damages. It can be easier for victims of drunk driving accidents to obtain the fullest amount of compensation allowed by law because the act of driving drunk already establishes criminal and financial liability to compensate the victim. In cases where the drunk driver is uninsured or underinsured, the drunk driver, himself, would be personally liable to have their wages garnished for the rest of his or her life.
Various types of damages recognized in Texas:
Pain and suffering
Quality of life issues
Loss of consortium
The property damage may be the easiest part to quantify. If a vehicle was totaled or requires extensive repairs, the value can be calculated and paid in full.
Your personal injury attorney will be able to calculate more complicated damages, such as lost wages and ongoing medical treatments. If you are injured, your average income can be compared to current income. If your long-term ability to earn those wages is compromised, then future wages can also be assessed in the same manner.
Medical bills are also based on your current medical bills and also any future medical bills that may be incurred when long-term therapy or care is required. Quality of life damages exist when a person is injured and no longer able to enjoy life in the same manner because of the impairment.
Loss of consortium and wrongful death lawsuits are filed on behalf of the family members and significant others who are injured. They may have lost tangible and intangible benefits such as the companionship of a spouse or other loved one, an inheritance, financial support, or may continue to suffer emotional damages of pain and suffering themselves. They may also be forced to care for someone with a permanent disability.
It is critical that you start building your case as quickly as possible by contacting a personal injury attorney at the Stern Law Group. A personal injury attorney at our law firm can help you understand the types of compensation available to you and the steps that you must take to claim them in court.
Dram Shop Liability
In addition to the liability owed to you when a drunk driver violates the rules of the road, Texas also recognizes a type of action based on dram shop liability. Dram shop liability is the liability that makes bars, restaurants, and liquor stores liable when they serve alcohol to someone who is clearly intoxicated or someone who is underage. A dram shop claim can be pursued in addition to any other action. In this case, the business would become a party in addition to the defendant, their insurance company, and any plaintiffs affected by the accident.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? Contact Stern Law Group
In order to prevail in a personal injury case against a drunk driver and anyone else responsible, you will need an experienced car accident attorney. Only an experienced car accident attorney has the skills to present your claims as firmly as possible and expert witnesses to support it.
The experienced attorneys at Stern Law Group have the foresight to manage your claim at every phase. This frees you of any risk of missing out on compensation owed to you and allows you to expedite settlements in many cases.
In the days, weeks, and months, immediately after an accident, the need for financial resources is the most serious. Having a seasoned attorney on your side will provide you with the resources you need to obtain the best medical care while ensuring the burden is off your shoulders and you can focus on healing.
If you’ve been injured by a drunk or impaired driver, contact Stern Law Group at (877) 661-9900 for helping seeking compensation and protecting your rights.