Drunk and Impaired Driving: A Crash Victim’s Essential Guide
- 1. Texas’ Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws: The Fundamentals
- 2. Chances of Being Hit by a Drunk Driver Increase Around Holidays
- 3. 4 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Drunk Driving Injury Claim From the Insurance Company
- 4. Drunk Driving Injury Settlements: What’s Your Case Worth?
- 5. Crosley Law: Fighting for Drunk Driving Accident Survivors and Their Families
Driving drunk is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible things a driver can do. Unfortunately, millions of people take this risk every single year. When drunk drivers hit the road, they endanger the lives of others and can cause serious injuries or even death in an accident.
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries due to a drunk driver, you probably have many questions. At Crosley Law, we want to help. Our injury attorneys have represented drunk driving victims for decades, helping them navigate their complex claims and get the compensation they deserve.
In this article, we outline the essentials that everyone needs to know after a drunk driving crash.
Texas’ Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws: The Fundamentals
In Texas, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re found driving with a blood-alcohol concentration above 0.08 or while under the influence of drugs, you can face criminal penalties — including jail time and fines. You also cannot have open containers of alcohol in your vehicle, even if your motor vehicle is parked or stopped.
Most people focus on these criminal penalties, but there’s more to Texas’ drunk driving laws. If an impaired driver injures or kills someone, they may also be financially liable (beyond legal fines) under the state’s personal injury laws.
The Differences Between Criminal and Civil Drunk Driving Cases
If a drunk driver injured you or someone you care for, a prosecutor may press charges and try to convict them of driving under the influence (DUI). This is a criminal case, and the goal is to punish wrongdoing, not compensate you for your injuries. The State of Texas will handle the criminal prosecution, and they will likely ask you to cooperate.
In addition to the criminal case, you may also have personal injury claims. However, the prosecutor will not handle this for you. Instead, a drunk driving accident lawyer can help you file claims with the correct insurance companies, negotiate a settlement, and (if necessary) present your case to a jury.
While criminal prosecutors must prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you won’t have to face this difficult standard in a civil personal injury case. Instead, if you can prove that the at-fault driver was most likely acting recklessly or negligently, you should be eligible for compensation. In fact, it’s possible to file a civil lawsuit even if the prosecutor decided not to press charges against the drunk driver.
You should not wait until the criminal case is closed before you talk to a personal injury attorney. In Texas, you only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you wait too long, you may miss this deadline, or you might discover that valuable evidence was lost or destroyed. To protect yourself, it’s always best to consult an experienced San Antonio drunk driving injury lawyer as quickly as possible.
Chances of Being Hit by a Drunk Driver Increase Around Holidays
Across the country, drunk driving accident numbers increase on and around holidays. While everyone enjoys celebrating these holidays, people are out drinking in greater numbers at bars and parties, which can lead to more dangerous driving conditions for other drivers.
According to Texas’ Crash Records Information System (CRIS), there have been over 2,500 crashes involving alcohol in San Antonio alone this past year. Among these accidents, the highest concentration of crashes occur around holidays — including New Year’s Eve, Halloween, and Fiesta.
During Fiesta 2021, there were 83 drunk driving accidents over the course of the festival. Three of these accidents were fatal, and 26 caused minor or severe injuries to either the other driver or the drunk driver.
By staying aware of these trends, drivers can reduce their risk during these high-risk times. Sadly though, the unfortunate truth is that a drunk driving car accident can happen at any time to anyone. If you or a loved one are injured due to someone else’s negligence, call an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer to get the help you need so you can focus on your recovery.
4 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Drunk Driving Injury Claim From the Insurance Company
After a drunk driving crash, it’s important to act quickly and decisively. Prompt action could save lives and ensure that the at-fault driver is held accountable.
Take the following steps after a wreck with an impaired driver.
1. Call 911 and Cooperate With the Authorities
Immediately after the collision, call 911 and request assistance. If you already suspect that the driver is intoxicated, report your concerns to the emergency operator. If possible, provide details. For example, if the driver approached you and smelled heavily of alcohol, or if you saw them disposing of bottles or cans, report what you observed to both the operator and the police officers.
This information can help the authorities recognize a potential drunk driver, and your concerns should be noted in the police report. Later, this documentation may serve as powerful evidence in a personal injury claim.
2. Preserve Your Evidence
In addition to cooperating with law enforcement, you can (and should) actively preserve evidence. For example, if possible, take pictures or videos of the crash scene, your injuries, and the vehicles involved. These images might help accident reconstructionists and other experts explain the causes and severity of the crash.
Electronic data can help your case, too. For example, many commercial vehicles have onboard systems that track the vehicle’s every move. These systems may even record what’s going on inside and outside the vehicle. Nearby businesses might also have surveillance footage of the crash. If you wait too long, however, this information could get lost or destroyed. So, you’ll want your lawyer to start their investigation as soon as possible.
3. Get Medical Treatment for Your Injuries
Immediately after a serious car crash, you might not fully understand the severity of your injuries. Your body will be pumped full of endorphins:
, the “fight or flight” chemicals that help us function under stressful circumstances. Unfortunately, these chemicals can also mask injuries. And some conditions, like herniated discs and concussions, can take time to develop.
The sooner you see a doctor, the faster your medical team will identify these developing injuries. Regardless of whether you feel any discomfort after a car crash, you should seek medical treatment to be absolutely sure and to establish documentation should you choose to pursue legal action.
Medical records are an essential part of your drunk driving injury claim. These records provide fact-based information about the severity of your injuries, help us understand your likelihood of a full recovery, and document your treatment. Without strong medical evidence, it’s tough to win a personal injury claim.
You should also keep copies of all of your medical bills so your San Antonio drunk driving injury attorney can include them in your settlement demand. An experienced attorney will help you to calculate your total costs, as well as any future costs, so you don’t have to.
4. Work With a Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Who Understands Your Claim
If you survived a drunk driving crash, you’ll want to spend your time focusing on your recovery, not your legal claims. And if you lost your loved one due to a drunk driver’s recklessness, litigation is the last thing on your mind. That’s why many families turn to the trusted injury attorneys at Crosley Law. We’ve developed a national reputation for our detailed investigations, innovated cutting-edge legal tactics, and built track record of results.
An experienced car accident attorney will help protect you from the tricks that the drunk driver’s insurance company will use to cheat you out of a fair settlement. By hiring an attorney early in the process, you can avoid lowball settlement offers, get an accurate calculation of your damages, receive the right medical care the first time, and participate in your legal claim — organizing and interpreting medical records and medical bills.
When you work with our law firm, we’ll handle most of the details of your case, giving you the time and space you need to recover from your injuries and emotional distress. But we’ll keep you informed along every step of the way and educate you about your options while explaining Texas’ negligence laws and providing the emotional support you need.
RELATED: How to Prove Buzzed Driving in Texas
Drunk Driving Injury Settlements: What’s Your Case Worth?
If the insurance company offers you a quick settlement after a drunk driving crash, you should be wary. Insurance companies often try to make lowball offers and close out cases as quickly as possible, something an experienced attorney will be able to spot.
The insurance adjuster hopes you’ll undervalue your case and take a lump-sum payout before you talk to an experienced lawyer. Instead, once you get an experienced lawyer on your side, you can fight back against unjust offers or even take a case to trial — just like Jamie and Ryan did to get the compensation they deserved.
Drunk driving victims may be entitled to numerous damages, including:
- Medical bills and other future medical expenses
- Lost wages and wage-earning capacity
- Property damage costs, including repairs and replacements
- Improvements that you make to your home or vehicle to make them accessible
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Punitive damages
Unlike other forms of damages, punitive damages aren’t designed to compensate you for your losses. Instead, they aim to punish a wrongdoer for their intentional or reckless actions. While punitive damages are relatively rare in a “typical” personal injury claim, they often come into play in cases involving drunk or drugged driving. In cases like Ed’s family’s, these damages were given in an amount that reflects the unjust damage done to a drunk driving accident’s victims.
If you do not demand punitive damages early in your claim, they may become unavailable. So, it’s important to act quickly and consult with a knowledgeable drunk driving injury lawyer.
Damages like pain and suffering are hard to calculate and are often where insurance companies will take advantage of injured drivers. Get help calculating these damages from an experienced lawyer to be sure you are not being cheated out of any non-economic damages. Personal injury lawyers have experience calculating these damages and might be able to help you get compensation you didn’t know you were entitled to.
You may also have legal claims against parties other than the drunk driver. For example, if the driver was in the course of their employment, you can demand compensation from the company. Similarly, if a bar or restaurant overserves someone, you may have a dram shop liability claim against the establishment.
Crosley Law: Fighting for Drunk Driving Accident Survivors and Their Families
If a drunk driver injured you or someone you love, the injury attorneys at Crosley Law want to help. Our team has built a reputation based on our cutting-edge and compassionate approach to drunk driving claims. We work hard to protect you from unfair offers, hold the at fault driver accountable, and get a settlement that covers your medical expenses and pain and suffering.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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