What To Do When a Drunk Driver Hits You in Texas?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drunk driving kills 30 people a day on the nation’s roads and highways, one person every 48 minutes. The loss of life associated with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol is tremendous, as is the financial impact not only to those involved in the crash, but also the general public which suffers the consequences in the form of ever-increasing car insurance premiums.
When you’re hit by a drunk driver, first things come first. Immediately following the crash, assess your own injuries and those of all others involved. Call police and medical personnel to the scene right away.
Drunk driving, like other major vehicle collisions, can result in a wide range of injuries, even death. If you feel your injuries are minor, or that perhaps you’re not injured at all, it may be wise to get a physical exam as soon as possible anyway. The shock of the collision may keep the adrenaline flowing through your body for some time before it wears off and all your pains and injuries surface in full force.
If the blood alcohol level of the motorist who caused the collision is above the legal limit, he or she will likely be charged in criminal court. In Texas, depending on the severity of the injuries caused by the drunk driver who hit you, these charges may include DWI, intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter (in the event of loss of life). In addition to criminal charges being filed, the victim of drunk driving may need to recover medical expenses or damages in civil court.
When a drunk driver hits you, it is imperative to collect and keep all available copies of related medical and law enforcement records. Contacting a personal injury lawyer with experience in handling drunk driving cases is a way to find out any legal options you may have. Insurance policies may not always make up for all of the victim’s financial and emotional suffering. Medical treatment or burial expenses, vehicle damages, and loss of income add up quickly. The emotional trauma caused by a DWI-related crash can last years or longer and may even require ongoing therapy.
A good personal injury lawyer will work hard to recover as much in financial awards on your behalf as possible. The amount you deserve can be assessed by a judge or a jury. Sometimes it comes in the form of a settlement, meaning the opposing parties agree on an amount and end the court proceedings. The more documentation from doctors and police you can provide to your attorney, the better the chances of reaching a fair settlement or judgment in your favor.
The drunk driver who hit you may not be the only responsible party that can be held legally accountable in a DWI-related crash. Texas has so-called dram shop laws that enable victims of drunk driving to summon the offender to civil court. Generally speaking, dram shop laws hold the establishment that unreasonably served the intoxicated motorist with too much alcohol — and thus helped cause the crash – financially liable. In cases where the offender was under the influence of alcohol while performing an official duty for his or her employer, a personal injury lawyer may also pursue financial relief from the offender’s employer.
DWI crashes are wholly preventable, yet they come at a cost totaling more than $51 million each year, according to the CDC. Holding the offenders accountable in every way the law allows is the most effective way to somewhat ease the victims’ financial burden.