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Drunk driving accidents can ruin lives. Many of these accidents are fatal, and those that are not often result in serious, life-changing injuries. Victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to seek compensation after an accident. Our experienced attorneys may be able to help.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver and are interested in filing a claim, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Arlington drunk driving accident lawyers.
TEXAS DRUNK DRIVING STATISTICS
- About one-third (33%) of traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver
- In Texas, a person is hurt or killed in a vehicular crash involving alcohol about every 20 minutes
- Texas had the highest fatalities for alcohol-impaired driving in the country in 2016, with
- From 2003 to 2012, over 13,000 people were killed in Texas as a result of motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver
- Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin incur the highest number of DWI crashes and deaths, but cities such as Odessa, Midland, and San Marcos have the highest rate of drunk driving accidents per capita.
For a free legal consultation with a drunk driving accidents lawyer serving Arlington, call 800-863-5312
COMMON CAUSES OF DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Drunk driving accidents occur because alcohol impairs a person’s motor and cognitive functions. As a result, a drunk driver is at risk of engaging in erratic conduct, which may cause an automobile collision. Listed below are several specific causes of drunk driving accidents.
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Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Alcohol is a sedative, which means that overconsumption can lead to drowsiness. As a result, drunk drivers are at risk of falling asleep at the wheel. A drunk driver who falls asleep at the wheel can no longer pay attention to the road, thereby putting other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists in great danger.
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Alcohol also has the effect of impairing a person’s focus. Individuals who have been drinking are thus at risk of engaging in distracted driving. For example, a drunk driver may text while driving. This lack of attention to the road increases the chances of an accident occurring.
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Drivers under the influence of alcohol may have impaired coordination, vision, and motor skills. For instance, a drunk driver may perceive a straight road as being curved or winding. A drunk driver is also at risk of having impaired reflexes. Together, these effects make a drunk driver more likely to engage in reckless driving that puts everyone in danger and can lead to serious accidents.
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WHAT TO DO AFTER BEING HIT BY A DRUNK DRIVER
The moments following a drunk driving accident can stressful, disorienting, and painful if an injury has occurred. Understanding what you should do after being involved in a drunk driving accident ahead of time may help protect both your immediate health and long-term legal rights. Listed below are several steps you should take following an accident with a drunk driver.
1. Seek Medical Attention
The first and most important step you should take after being hit by a drunk driver is to seek medical attention from a trained professional. In many drunk driving accidents, the need for medical attention is clear and obvious. However, even seemingly minor accidents have the potential to cause harm to a person’s body. For instance, some accidents may result in delayed-onset injuries, whereby the victim does not experience pain or symptoms until hours or days after the accident. Seeking medication attention after a wreck may help your body recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.
2. Report the Accident
If possible, try to report the accident to local law enforcement as soon as possible. Filing a report can be beneficial for several reasons. For instance, a report may help law enforcement catch and apprehend the drunk driver, thus keeping him or her off the streets and preventing any more harm from occurring. Filing a police report will also allow you to create an official record of the incident which may help strengthen your claim. When filling out the report, try to be as clear and concise as possible. Inform the officers of the circumstances surrounding the accident, including where it occurred, how it occurred, and any resulting injuries you may have sustained. Be sure to refrain from admitting any guilt or saying that you could have done something to prevent the accident.
3. Document the Accident
Documenting the accident means creating and maintaining a thorough record of important documents relating to the accident. This means keeping a running file at home or your office with documents such as photographs of the accident, photographs of your injuries, a copy of the police report, witness statements, medical bills, and car repair estimates. Taking this critical step may help substantiate your claim and prevent insurance companies from paying out less than you deserve.
4. Call a Personal Injury Attorney
After you have healed, consider contacting a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your case. An attorney may wish to speak with you in person or over the phone to gather important facts regarding your injuries. After learning about the details of the accident, the attorney may be able to provide advice about your legal rights. If necessary, an attorney may begin the process of filing a claim against the drunk driver or the driver’s insurance company.
WHO CAN I SUE AFTER BEING INJURED IN A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT?
Although many people associate drunk driving accidents with criminal charges and jail time, it is important to remember that a drunk driving accident victim may also file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver. A civil lawsuit is a separate and distinct proceeding from a criminal trial, and may provide a drunk driving accident victim with a means of recovering compensation for injuries suffered in an accident.
Dram shop laws set the rules for bringing lawsuits against entities that serve alcohol to patrons such as bars, restaurants, taverns, or other similar establishments.
A dram shop lawsuit is a civil case brought against an establishment by a person who was injured in a drunk driving accident which was caused by one of the establishment’s customers. For instance, if you were hit by a drunk driver who had been overserved at a nightclub, you may be able to file a dram shop lawsuit against the nightclub.
To establish liability in a dram shop case, the victim must typically prove that the establishment acted negligently. In many cases, such negligence can be established by proving that the bartenders or servers continued to serve a patron which the bartenders or servers knew or reasonably should have known was drunk. For example, if a bartender continued to serve a person exhibiting slurred speech or aggressive behavior, the establishment may be held liable if that intoxicated person later causes an accident. Examples of evidence that may help prove negligence include:
- The establishment continued to serve someone who was visibly intoxicated;
- The establishment served an underaged individual;
- The establishment served someone without asking for identification;
- The establishment served someone after closing time;
In addition to dram shop laws, states also have laws that allow a drunk driving accident victim to file a lawsuit against social hosts when the host is responsible for providing excessive alcohol to a guest.
Like dram shop laws, proving liability in social host cases requires establishing that the host was somehow negligent. In Texas, this can be accomplished by proving that the host continued to provide alcohol to the intoxicated person after it was known or should have been known that the person was already intoxicated.
Suing Multiple Parties
In some drunk driving accident cases, more than one party may be liable to the victim. For example, if a drunk driver was overserved at a restaurant, the injured party may be able to file a lawsuit against the drunk driver and the restaurant.
DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT COMPENSATION
A victim of a drunk driving accident may be entitled to compensation in the form of monetary damages if the victim can establish that the drunk driver caused the accident and resulting injuries. The types of monetary damages that may be awarded following a drunk driving accident fall into two general categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to quantifiable costs incurred as a result of the accident. Types of economic damages that may be available in a drunk driving accident case include:
- Medical and pharmacy bills
- Future medical costs
- Lost income and wages
- Future lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are difficult to calculate. These types of damages are typically subjectively evaluated by the jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages in a drunk driving lawsuit may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Under certain circumstances, a third type of damages, referred to as punitive damages, may be awarded to a drunk driving accident victim. These damages are rare and are reserved for cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was found to be especially egregious or intentional.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS FOR BRINGING A DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT CLAIM
A “statute of limitations” is the legal term for the time-limit with which an injury victim must initiate a lawsuit. If a victim does not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, that party is effectively barred from litigating the claim in court. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state.
In Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations for car accident claims. This means that a drunk driving accident victim has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. For instance, if a person was injured in a drunk driving accident on July 4, 2020, that person must file a lawsuit by July 4, 2022. In cases where a minor is injured, the statute of limitations may be extended or “tolled” until the child reaches the age of majority or until the child is legally emancipated. The child then has two years from that date to file a lawsuit.
Because these situations often involve a complex analysis of time frames and relevant dates, you may want to consider consulting with an experienced drunk driving accident attorney. Doing so may help ensure that your lawsuit is properly filed in a timely manner against all necessary parties.
ZINDA LAW GROUP’S DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS ARE READY TO HELP
Zinda Law Group’s Arlington drunk driving accident attorneys may offer years of experience negotiating, settling, and litigating drunk driving accident claims. Allow us to focus on protecting your rights while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced Arlington lawyer, or to learn more about the claim filing process, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free case evaluation.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.
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