Liability for DUI/DWI Crash Injuries
If you get hurt in Texas and it’s someone else’s fault, they’re usually responsible for your losses. To recover damages after a DUI/DWI crash or other accident, you must first show that the driver was negligent.
Under Texas law, a person is negligent if:
- They have a duty to do something (or not do something),
- They don’t live up to that duty,
- The accident happens because they didn’t live up to their duty, and
- You suffered losses because of the accident
Driving under the influence is a crime in Texas. The drunk driver who hit you may be sentenced to jail time, ordered to attend drug and alcohol counseling, lose their driver’s license, be ordered to pay fines, and more. The court may even order restitution. That’s money paid to the victim of the crime to cover costs like repair of the victim’s car and medical bills. But restitution is limited. And, many drunk drivers have no resources to pay you.
Fortunately, you have another option. You can file a personal injury claim against the intoxicated driver who hit you. There are two big advantages to filing a lawsuit after a DUI/DWI accident injury. First, a wider range of damages are available. Every car accident case is different, and the best way to find out what types of compensation may be available is to talk to an accident attorney who is experienced with DUI/DWI cases. Some of the most common are:
- Compensation for medical expenses
- Compensation for income lost because of the injury
- Compensation for pain and suffering
The second reason you should pursue a civil car accident claim is insurance. The drunk driver likely won’t have enough money or property to compensate you–even if the criminal court orders it. If you do get paid any restitution, it may be in small increments over time. In a civil case, the intoxicated driver’s automobile insurance carrier pays.
Starting a Car Accident Claim for a DUI/DWI Injury
The first step is typically to file a claim with the insurance company. You can do this yourself, but it’s not the best approach. Insurance companies keep profits up by paying out as little as they can. From the moment they hear about your accident, they’re looking for a way to deny your claim. If they can’t deny it, they’ll work on cutting down the compensation you receive.
In other words, talking to the insurance company is risky. They’ll be looking for ways to weaken your claim. Of course, they won’t be obvious about it. They’ll usually be friendly and make you feel like they’re on your side. They aren’t. When you hire a Texas DUI/DWI accident injury lawyer right away, you never have to talk to the insurance company. Your lawyer can start the claim for you and handle all communications with the insurer.
Third Party Liability for DUI/DWI Accidents
The most obvious responsible party is the drunk driver who caused the accident. In some cases, though, someone else may share responsibility. That can be true in any type of negligence case. In a DUI/DWI accident case, one possible responsible party is the bar or restaurant that served the drunk driver. Texas law makes a business that serves liquor responsible if:
- They served alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated, and
- The intoxication caused the damages
An adult who serves alcohol or allows a minor to consume alcohol on their property may also be responsible for damages caused by the intoxicated minor.
This type of claim is difficult to establish. Your DUI/DWI injury attorney will need to gather evidence that the person who hit you was visibly intoxicated. The sooner you hire an attorney, the better chance they will have of finding witnesses who remember exactly what happened at the bar or restaurant.
What to Do after Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
The very first thing you should do after any car accident is check yourself for injuries. If you believe you are injured, call 911 and wait for help. If you are not seriously injured, check to see if anyone else needs urgent medical help.
Then, you should do the same things you would after any car accident:
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver
- Take pictures or video of the vehicles and the scene of the accident
- Get contact information from any witnesses
- Look around to see if there are cameras that may have caught the accident
- Wait for the police
Of course, you should only do these things if you can do them safely.
When you’re done at the accident scene, get any medical attention you need. If you’re unsure, see a doctor or go to the emergency room. It can be hard to know how seriously injured you are at first, and you don’t want to take any chances. Waiting too long could make your injuries worse. That hurts you and your case.
Talk to a Drunk Driving Injury Attorney Today
In most cases, you have two years to file a car accident case in Texas. But there’s no reason to delay. You should hire an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your drunk driving accident because:
- Your lawyer can take over talking to the insurance company
- It will be easier to collect evidence soon after the accident
- Some physical evidence and video may be lost if you delay
- Witness memories will be fresher, and witnesses will be easier to find
- Certain case types have shorter deadlines
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The attorneys and legal professionals on the I Just Got Hit team are dedicated to improving our clients’ lives. That means we’ll fight for you every step of the way. We’ll build a strong case and negotiate hard for you. And, if it’s in your best interest, we’ll take your case to trial. Contact us today for your free consultation.
Texas Drunk Driving Accident Injury FAQs
When a pedestrian is hit by a car in Texas, the driver is typically liable for damages if they were negligent and caused the injuries. In Texas, a driver who is operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered negligent, since they are violating a traffic safety law. However, the injured pedestrian will still have to prove that the driver’s negligence caused the accident. The plaintiff also has to prove that the damages suffered as a result of the accident, including medical bills and other costs, lost income, pain and suffering. In some cases there will be projected future losses, which will likely require an expert witness.
In short, a drunk driver will usually be responsible for injuries to a pedestrian they hit, but proving the case requires more than evidence that the driver was intoxicated.
Possibly. Punitive damages also known as “exemplary damages”) aren’t a given in a drunk driving accident case (or any other personal injury case). Texas law provides for punitive damages only when the plaintiff shows that the defendant has committed fraud or acted with malice or gross negligence.
If punitive damages are available in a pedestrian accident case, they are capped by Texas law. The limit on punitive damages is based on the amount of economic or non-economic damages in your case, but can never be more than $750,000 no matter how large your damages are.
An experienced DUI/DWI accident injury lawyer is the best source of information about whether punitive damages may be available in your case.
A Texas driver has a duty of care to their passengers, just as they do to other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and others on the road. That means the injured passenger of a negligent driver typically has a claim for damages. However, the passenger of a drunk driver may face some challenges in pursuing an injury claim. The intoxicated driver’s insurance carrier will likely argue that you assumed the risk by getting in the car with a drunk driver, or that you were negligent yourself in riding with someone who had been drinking.
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving crash and were riding with the responsible driver, you’ll want to consult an experienced drunk driving accident injury attorney right away, before engaging with the insurance company.