VICTIMS OF DRUNK DRIVERS
Drunk driving is a criminal offense that can carry stiff penalties, especially if the driver causes an accident while driving drunk. Fines or jail time may serve to punish the driver for violating the law, but do not provide any practical relief for victims who might have been injured in the accident. That kind of compensation is not provided unless the victim files a civil lawsuit against the driver.
What Texas Victims Need to Know
There are no restrictions in Texas if you wish to file a lawsuit against a drunk driver who caused you injury. Unfortunately, that does not mean these cases are an automatic win, even if there are criminal charges against the drunk driver. The defendant’s attorney and insurance company will use every possible resource to avoid a judgment against the driver responsible for the accident. As a result, many Texas victims don’t receive fair compensation because they lack the advice and support of an experienced attorney to see their case through to a successful conclusion.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver:
On a fundamental level, child injury cases are similar to personal injury claims for adults in that they provide legal recourse for individuals who believe that the injuries they suffered occurred due to another person’s negligence. If they can demonstrate that an injury was preventable or would have been less severe if the defendant had adhered to certain legal obligations, then they can be awarded damages to compensate for losses incurred as a result of the injury.
- DO stay informed of your rights. Texas is what is known as a pure negligence state, meaning your damages do not have to meet specific criteria for severity or exceed a certain dollar amount.
- DO understand any criminal charges against the driver are part of an entirely separate process. You would be required to file a civil suit to seek compensation for personal injury or property damage claim would have to be addressed by a civil lawsuit.
- DO speak to an attorney who is knowledgeable about Texas personal injury law, especially as it relates to accidents caused by drunk drivers.
- DON’T allow the driver’s insurance company to pressure you into accepting a quick settlement. In fact, it is best not to even accept their calls— let your attorney communicate with them instead. They are most successful when they can catch you alone and unprepared and convince you that a settlement is in your best interests. You can be sure that any amount they offer, regardless of how generous it sounds or how pressured you feel to accept, in the long run the company considers it a bargain.
- DON’T file a claim with your own insurance company just because you believe your injuries were “too minor” or because only your property was damaged in the accident. In Texas, you are entitled to seek compensation for any damages related to an accident caused by a drunk driver, no matter how small or limited they may be.
- DON’T expect more from a criminal case than it can provide. While it’s possible that the court may consider your injuries or damages in some way when deciding on charges or sentencing for the driver, criminal court can only dictate how the driver must be accountable to the legal system.
While these are good general guidelines for victims of drunk drivers in Texas, every case is unique. To be sure that you are getting the best possible results, turn to an experienced personal injury like Drew Bivona. Visit our office in the heart of Houston, or call us at 832-621-3484. Consultations are free.