Drunk Driving Accidents
While drunk driving is illegal under Texas law, a person is killed or injured in a car crash involving alcohol every 20 minutes in our state. That statistic is terrifying and may leave you wondering what you can do if this ever happens to you. Being unexpectedly hit by a drunk driver can wreck your car and can leave you with serious injuries. Ideally no one should ever have to go through this experience, however, if this happens to you, know that you are not alone. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact our knowledgeable team of car wreck attorneys today so we can help you get through this difficult time and make sure you obtain fair compensation for the damage and injuries you suffered.
There were over 10,000 car accidents in Texas involving drivers under the influence in 2019. Of those, 788 involved fatalities. Lives that were taken away too soon because an intoxicated driver chose to get behind the wheel instead of getting a ride home from a friend, taking public transportation, or using a rideshare service. In the United States, one-third of all fatal car accidents involved drivers who were drinking alcohol.
Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put lives at risk by making the bad choice to break the law and drive drunk. Under Texas law, a driver is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08. Also, in this state, a person can be considered impaired even if their blood alcohol concentration is lower than 0.08 but they have ingested alcohol and/or drugs and their demeanor indicates they are unable to function normally as a result. There are many signs to look out for that may indicate you are sharing the road with a drunk driver, including:
- A car weaving erratically in and out of its lane
- A car drifting out of its lane and into the emergency lane
- Red light runners
- A car performing unsafe turns or weaving in and out of traffic quickly
- Drivers falling asleep at the wheel
- A car stopping before it reaches an intersection or stop sign
- Cars driving significantly too fast or too slowly
Alcohol impairs a driver by slowing down their reaction time and reflexes, blurring their vision, slowing down motor function, impairing judgment, and potentially causing them to black out at the wheel. All necessary driving skills are impaired by alcohol consumption; therefore, drunk driving accidents are some of the most devastating car accidents. Drunk drivers who are unable to react to changes in front of them on the road will cause accidents at higher speeds and with greater force, resulting in a higher chance of serious injury or death. The impact of a higher-speed, reckless collision can easily cause severe injuries. Drunk drivers are also known to cause head-on impacts by driving on the wrong side of the road or into oncoming traffic. If you see a car driving unpredictably on the road ahead, give that person plenty of space. If they are unable to react in time to prevent a collision, you will have enough room to react and save yourself from potential harm.
Drunk Driving Accident Injuries
Because drunk drivers are not able to react in time, the resulting collisions will be high-impact and severe and the injuries sustained can be devastating. You may be in serious pain for days, weeks, or even months after the crash – and some injuries from drunk driving accidents can cause permanent damage. Common injuries experienced by those who have been hit by a drunk driver include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Broken Bones
- Loss of Limbs
- Internal Bleeding
- Road Rash
- Neck and Spine Injury
- Severe Pain
- Cuts, Bruises, and Contusions
Many of these injuries may not appear until 24 or more hours after the accident occurs. Your body goes into a state of shock after a traumatic experience like a car accident, and releasees adrenaline, which makes you feel “fine” right after the accident but pain can start setting in hours to days after. This is incredibly common and the moment you start to experience pain you should seek medical treatment. Some injuries will require physical therapy or lifelong medical treatment to be able to return to as normal of a life as possible. Emotional trauma is also commonly recognized as an injury after being hit by a drunk driver. You may experience post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety after the crash. Seeking medical treatment, including counseling or psychiatric therapy, for your emotional injuries is essential to a full recovery.
What To Do If You Are Hit By A Drunk Driver
If you have been hit by a drunk driver, follow all the typical first steps you would after any type of car accident, including calling 911 and seeking medical attention. The situation may be a bit more complicated after these first steps since the driver who hit you is impaired and may not be behaving rationally. If you attempt to collect their identification and insurance information and the driver acts in an unsafe manner due to intoxication, return to your vehicle and wait for the police to arrive. Make sure to take note of any strange smells or erratic behavior as this can be evidence of their impairment for the police report. Make sure to tell the police every detail you can remember, including the other driver’s behavior leading up to, during, and after the auto accident.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drunk Driving Accidents
What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident in Texas?
If you are injured in a drunk driving accident in Texas, seek immediate medical attention. If you are alert and capable, there are critical steps you should take to protect your legal rights:
- Call law enforcement: Traffic accidents are required to be reported to law enforcement. In addition, police will need to investigate the cause of the crash, initiate any drunk driving testing, and file a report. You will need a copy of the accident report for your insurance claim.
- Collect critical evidence: In addition to the police report, it would be in your best interest to collect as much supporting evidence as possible. Take pictures and/or video of the vehicles involved, the scene of the accident, your injuries, and any injuries to passengers. Remember to capture images and video from both close and far to better show how the accident happened.
When exchanging contact information, it would also be good to snap a picture of the other driver’s insurance card, driver’s license, and license plate. Also, be sure to take down any names and contact information for witnesses at the scene, ask for a copy of the police report, and retain medical records and bills as they become available.
The information you collect will help show who is at fault for the drunk driving accident and the extent of your injuries and other damages. Your personal injury attorney can also use this information to estimate the value of your claim.
- Exchange contact information: It is essential to have accurate contact information for those involved in the accident. You will need the drunk driver’s insurance information, phone number, driver’s license information, and license plate. You should also take down the contact information of other passengers, including your own.
- Retain experienced representation: Drunk driving accidents are challenging for many reasons, one of which is that they often involve corresponding criminal proceedings. They also tend to cause extensive physical and emotional damage. Retaining an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer is the best way to secure the compensation you deserve and protect your rights.
Can I Still File a Lawsuit if there is a Criminal Case Against the Drunk Driver Who Hit Me?
If there is a criminal case against the drunk driver who caused your car accident, you are still entitled to file a civil lawsuit against them. Civil and criminal courts are very different, and the cases are designed to yield different types of results.
In a criminal case, a person is charged with a crime and if they are found guilty, they are subject to criminal penalties like fines and jail time. Civil courts handle disputes between individuals and business entities; and, in the case of a drunk driving injury claim, the result will generally be a monetary result designed to compensate the injured party. Whether the criminal case is awaiting trial, ongoing, or concluded, you retain the right to file a civil drunk driving accident claim. In fact, a personal injury lawsuit is the best way to recover the maximum financial compensation for your losses.
What Damages Can I Recover if I Was Hit in a Drunk Driving Accident in Texas?
You have the right to recover many different damages after being injured in a drunk driving accident. Every car accident is unique. The specific damages you can recover will depend on the particulars of your case.
Victims of drunk driving accidents can sustain serious and debilitating injuries. In addition, vehicles are often totaled. As a result, the most common damages drunk driving accident injury victims recover include:
- Compensation for medical expenses
- Lost wages if unable to work
- Loss of future income
- Pain and suffering damages
- Emotional distress damages
- Loss of consortium
- Vehicle and property damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages (also known as exemplary damages) differ from traditional compensatory damages. While financial recovery in a civil suit is mostly based on the various losses suffered by the victim, punitive damages are grounded in punishment.
Punitive damages are a monetary way of punishing serious wrongdoing. A judge may award punitive damages in cases of gross negligence. A Texas personal injury lawyer will know if the facts of your case qualify you to include a claim for exemplary damages.
How Can a Texas Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Help My Case?
A Texas drunk driving accident lawyer can help your injury claim in several ways, including:
- Investigating your claim, including interviewing witnesses
- Gathering critical evidence
- Retaining relevant experts and investigators
- Negotiating with the insurance company or companies on your behalf
- Representing you in court
If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, our Texas car accident attorneys will fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
If I am Hurt as a Passenger in a Drunk Driving Accident, Can I Sue?
If you were a passenger in a drunk driving accident, you have the right to sue the person who caused your injuries. It does not matter whether you were a passenger in the vehicle who caused the accident or an occupant in a vehicle that was hit. If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, you have the right to be compensated for your injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Lovell, Isern & Farabough today at (806) 373-1515.
Amarillo Lawyers For Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents can cause severe injuries which can in turn lead to high medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, and uncertainty about the future. The pain and suffering you experience are real and we are here to help you. The experienced legal team of Lovell, Isern & Farabough, LLP fights for the maximum amount of financial compensation – we know how to deal with insurance companies and stand ready to take your case to trial.
We know being seriously injured is a terrible experience. Our goal is to make the legal process as painless as possible so you can focus on recovering. We will work hard to hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for their reckless actions and get you the funds you need to both pay for your damages and to medically recover. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Texas drunk driving accident, contact Lovell, Isern & Farabough, LLP today.