How Can a Texas Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Help You?
Pursuing a civil claim against a drunk driver who has harmed you or killed a loved one is different than pursuing criminal charges against the driver.
In a criminal case, the State of Texas seeks to punish a drunk driver for his or her conduct. A prosecutor pursues the case against the drunk driver on behalf of the state – not necessarily on behalf of the driver’s victims. A drunk driver who is found guilty of the offense may be ordered to serve a sentence and pay fines to the State of Texas. However, the drunk driver will not necessarily be ordered to compensate his or her victims.
Pursuing a civil claim against the drunk driver is different. Your attorney prosecutes the case on behalf of you, the victim. Your lawyer’s goal is not to seek a conviction but rather to secure compensation for all of your physical, emotional and financial damages. However, additional compensation can (and usually is) sought to punish the drunk driver. These are called punitive damages.
In other words, criminal and civil actions against a drunk driver are closely related, but they remain separate and distinct from each other. A driver who is not convicted of a drunk driving offense in Texas can still be held liable for damages.
Attorney Chris Rehmet of Tate Law Offices has experience both as a criminal prosecutor who has sought drunk driving convictions on behalf of the state and as a civil plaintiff’s lawyer who has sought civil drunk driving monetary settlements on behalf of victims. He understands what goes into proving drunk driving accident cases and seeking maximum compensation for victims and their families.
Chris and the rest of our legal team can bring their skills and experience to bear on your case and aggressively pursue the financial recovery you deserve. In many drunk driving accident cases, where a driver’s liability is clearly established, a case may be resolved without the need to go to court or even to file a lawsuit.
What You Should Know About Texas Drunk Driving Laws?
Texas, like every other state, defines driving while intoxicated (DWI) as operating a motor vehicle on a public highway with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater. A driver’s BAC usually is identified through breath, blood or urine tests conducted by police officers immediately after an arrest and/or crash.
However, even if a driver’s BAC is lower than 0.08, the driver may still be convicted of a DWI. A DWI conviction can be based on the consumption of any amount of alcohol, drugs – or both – which causes a person to lose normal use of his or her mental or physical faculties.
Signs of a driver’s impairment could include:
- Red, glassy eyes
- Slurred speech
- A strong smell of alcohol on his or her breath
- Careless or reckless driving such as speeding, driving too slowly, drifting across lanes, driving on the wrong side of the road or failing to stop at a stop sign or red light.
Additionally, if a person under the age of 21 drives a motor vehicle on a public highway after consuming any amount of alcohol, he or she could be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI.
You need to know about these Texas DWI/DUI laws because they can impact your civil case against a suspected drunk driver who has harmed you or a loved one.
For instance, if a driver who caused your accident is convicted of drunk driving, the driver may be considered negligent per se. This means that the driver’s negligence is established as a matter of law. Your case would then focus entirely on the losses you have suffered.
In most cases, it is advisable to hire an attorney to protect your rights immediately after you are injured by a drunk driver. An accident attorney from Tate Law Offices, for instance, can serve as a liaison between you and the police and/or district attorney’s office while the driver’s criminal case is prosecuted.
Who Can You Sue If Hurt in a Texas Drunk Driving Accident?
If you have been hurt by a drunk driver as a motorist, motorcyclist, pedestrian, bicyclist or even as a passenger in a car driven by the intoxicated driver, you should seek to hold that driver fully responsible for all harm you have suffered.
However, the drunk driver may not be the only party responsible for your damages. At Tate Law Offices, we will examine your case closely and explore whether other parties should be held liable as well. These parties can include:
- The drunk driver’s employer – Under Texas law, employers can be sued for any harm their employees cause while acting within the scope and course of their employment. So, if you are injured by a driver who was drunk while making a delivery, the employer may be held liable.
- The store, bar or restaurant who sold alcohol to the drunk driver – The Texas Dram Shop Act gives you the right to sue any business that provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer or a minor who, in turn, caused an accident that injured you or killed your loved one.
- Social host that provided alcohol to a non-related minor – If a person threw a party and served alcohol to a non-related minor who, in turn, caused an accident that harmed you or a loved one, the social host may be held liable in Texas.
What Can You Recover in a Texas Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
The lawyers of Tate Law Offices will be committed to seeking a maximum recovery for you and your loved ones in a Texas drunk driving accident claim.
We will thoroughly investigate your case and consult with experts to arrive at a just amount that should be sought in your case. We can often recover for our clients in a drunk driving accident case by obtaining a settlement without the need to file a lawsuit or go to court.
While the amount that can be recovered in a case will depend on the facts and issues involved, a claim typically would seek recovery of:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and diminished future income
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Physical Impairment
- Pain and suffering
- All other related expenses.
These damages are known as “compensatory” damages. They are aimed at making you “whole” after an accident caused by another. In a drunk driving accident case, “punitive” or “exemplary” damages be sought as well. These damages are aimed at punishing the driver for gross negligence and deterring future misconduct by the driver and others.
In fact, the lawyers of Tate Law Offices firmly believe that punitive damages can play an important role in combating drunk driving within Texas.
Contact a Texas Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
If a drunk driver has caused the loss of your loved one or devastating, life-changing injuries, you have the right to take legal action that is separate and apart from any criminal actions against the drunk driver. You can seek a full and fair financial recovery for all of the harm you have suffered.
Contact Tate Law Offices today to learn more about your rights and your legal options. Our lawyers are committed to seeking a maximum recovery for drunk driving accident victims and their families in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and communities throughout Texas.
We will not charge any attorney fees or cases costs unless we obtain a financial recovery for you. We will work tirelessly to seek the justice you deserve.
Call or reach us online today to get started with a free and confidential consultation about your case.
- Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses, Texas Penal Code
- Alcohol-Impaired Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration