Drunk driving is a crime in all 50 states. Yet, every year, thousands of victims are injured and lose their lives in collisions involving intoxicated drivers. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 958 people died in accidents involving drunk driving in 2020 alone. This represented one-fourth of all victims killed in car accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, our Houston car accident lawyers can help. Contact The Doan Law Firm to request a free case consultation today.
Houston Drunk Driving Crash Resources
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How Can a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Help You?
You have enough going on as a drunk driving accident survivor or family member of a victim. We believe that you should have the mental peace to focus on healing and moving forward rather than dealing with the legal process. Entrust the legal side of your case to a skilled and experienced legal professional. Your lawyer can investigate the drunk driving accident, collect evidence against the intoxicated driver, negotiate with a car insurance company, connect you to top doctors, hire qualified experts, and more – all while you recuperate from the collision. Your personal injury lawyer in Houston will be there for you every step of the way.
Drunk Driving Accident Statistics in Texas
Accidents involving drunk drivers are much more common than most people realize. When we examine information available from the Texas Department of Transportation, we can see that there were more than 18,400 total alcohol-impaired collisions during the latest reporting year across the state, 2021. Out of these incidents, 579 individuals lost their lives. Additionally, 1,525 individuals sustained suspected severe injuries, and more than 4,000 individuals sustained suspected minor injuries. More than 4,400 others sustained possible injuries as a result of these collisions.
When we dig deeper to look directly at incidents that occurred in Houston during the latest reporting year, we can see that there were 2,766 total collisions involving alcohol-impaired drivers. Out of these incidents, 87 people lost their lives, 176 sustained suspected serious injuries, and 477 sustained suspected minor injuries.
Texas Drunk Driving Laws
In Texas, the law states that a driver is legally too intoxicated to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at or above 0.08 percent. However, you are breaking the law as soon as an intoxicating substance affects your driving, regardless of your BAC level. Texas is also a Zero Tolerance state for underage drivers; drivers under the age of 21 who register any BAC level are classified as drunk.
The criminal penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Texas include mandatory jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension and ignition interlock devices on all vehicles. If a drunk driver causes a car accident, he or she could also face civil penalties. For example, the driver will have to pay for the medical bills and property damage of all victims, typically using his or her auto insurance coverage.
Common Injuries in Houston DUI Crashes
DUI accidents can result in significant injuries for those involved. In many cases, we can see that the same types of injuries that occur in every other type of vehicle accident can also occur in DUI-related crashes. However, the very nature of alcohol-impaired collisions often means that drivers were operating at higher rates of speed, which, therefore, increases the likelihood that individuals involved will sustain catastrophic injuries. Some of the most common DUI accident-related injuries that occur in Houston include:
Traumatic brain injuries
Spinal cord trauma
Internal organ damage
Broken or dislocated bones
In addition to these traumatic injuries that can occur as a result of a DUI collision, we also know that victims are likely to sustain various types of emotional and psychological trauma as a result of the incident. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of DUI crash victims suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, crash victims can experience feelings of sleeplessness, anxiety, fear, stress, and more as a result of these incidents.
These physical and emotional symptoms must all be taken into account when working to adequately calculate compensation payable to DUI crash victims.
What if a Loved One Suffers Fatal Injuries in a DUI Crash?
As we saw from the statistics above, individuals do lose their lives as a result of alcohol-impaired collisions throughout the state of Texas each year. This can leave families grieving and at a significant financial loss. If family members lose a loved one due to the negligent actions of an impaired driver, they may be able to recover compensation by filing a civil wrongful death claim against the alleged impaired driver. When we examine Texas law, we can see that family members can file Houston wrongful death lawsuits if the deceased lost their life as a result of an injury caused by the at-fault party’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”
In the state of Texas, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit falls to the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased, in that order. In the event those individuals fail to file a wrongful death claim within three months from the date of death, the personal representative, or executor, of the deceased’s estate is allowed to file the claim.
Who Is Liable for a Drunk Driving Accident in Texas?
If you or a loved one gets injured in a DUI accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation from one or multiple parties. Most people assume that the drunk driver will pay for the accident using the liability car insurance that is required of all drivers in Texas. While this is certainly possible, there could be third parties at fault for your accident, as well. Common defendants include:
The drunk driver. You can use a drunk driver’s insurance to pay for your losses as the victim of a DUI accident. If the driver was working at the time of the accident, you may be able to hold his or her employer vicariously liable for the accident, instead.
A dram shop. Under Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section 2.02, a crash victim has the right to bring a lawsuit against an entity for providing, selling or serving alcohol to an individual who was obviously intoxicated if that individual later causes a car accident. This is known as the state’s dram shop liability law.
A social host. State law also holds a social host responsible for a drunk driving accident if he or she knowingly caused the intoxication of a minor under the age of 18, if that person is not the minor’s parent, guardian or spouse.
Discuss your options for pursuing financial compensation for a drunk driving accident in Houston with one of our attorneys. We will carefully assess the facts of your case to determine the best way forward for maximum financial recovery.
Damages Available in a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit
There may be various types of compensation available to drunk driving accident victims in the Houston area. When an attorney gets involved, they will work diligently to recover both economic and non-economic compensation on behalf of their client. They will work to adequately calculate this compensation amount by securing assistance from trusted medical and economic experts.
Economic damages revolve around the more calculable losses that drunk driving accident victims will sustain. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Emergency medical bills
All follow-up medical visits
Property damage expenses
Non-economic damages are more immeasurable and harder to calculate. These damages revolve around less calculable expenses, including a drunk driving accident victim’s physical and emotional pain and suffering related to the incident. This can include feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, and PTSD. There are various ways to calculate non-economic damages, but attorneys will most often use a multiplier method where they can add up all of the economic damages related to the case and then multiply that by a set number (usually a number ranging from 1.5 to 5).
How a Houston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help
DUI accident cases in Texas can be very challenging, particularly when it comes to determining liability. In general, most people think that these cases will be a “slam dunk” for the injury victim, but that is not the case. Even if the other individual is charged with DUI, this does not necessarily mean that their liability is absolute. A skilled Houston drunk driving accident attorney needs to get involved quickly and take over the case. Not only will they conduct an investigation into the incident to determine the liability of the auto driver, but they will liaise with law enforcement officials and keep track of the criminal case against the individual.
Sometimes, individuals are found not guilty of DUI, even if they were impaired at the time the collision occurred. However, even if a person is found not guilty of DUI, they can still be held liable for causing the accident in the first place. Yes, any information related to impairment could help establish their liability, but other factors can also be used, and an attorney will need to get involved to gather this evidence.
Additionally, an attorney will work with trusted medical experts to help treat their client and help evaluate how much the medical care will cost. By enlisting assistance from economic experts, an attorney will adequately calculate the remaining economic and non-economic losses in an attempt to recover fair compensation for their client.
Contact Us Today
The Doan Law Firm is your source for exceptional legal representation as a drunk driving accident victim in Houston, Texas. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of past car accident clients and are prepared to take your case to trial, if necessary. Request your free consultation today to learn more from an experienced DUI accident lawyer. Call (800) 349-0000 24/7.