If you or a family member are injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, you may be compensated for your injuries. If this is your situation, you’re in good company. Every year there are thousands of vehicle accidents in Texas involving drivers impaired by alcohol. Hundreds of them result in injuries and deaths.
Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP represent victims of vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers. We understand the pain and grief they and their families endure, especially given how preventable and pointless these accidents are. The injuries they suffer can be severe and life-changing. We also help family members of those killed in drunk driving accidents.
What is Drunk Driving?
We represent clients seeking compensation for injuries and deaths caused by accidents. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is also a crime. To be charged with DWI:
- A driver’s blood alcohol content test result is 0.08% or higher
- It’s not that high, but there’s other evidence supporting the charge (how the person drove or how they interacted with the officer)
Whether the driver is arrested or convicted or not, we can make a claim against their insurance policy if they acted negligently and injured you. If the insurance carrier is unreasonable in settlement negotiations, we may file a civil lawsuit.
Are There Connections Between Criminal and Civil Drunk Driving Cases?
Personal injury cases are divided into showing liability (the defendant’s at fault) and damages (you suffered harm). If the driver pleads guilty to DWI or a related charge or is convicted at a trial, that can help your case. You should have a strong liability case, and an insurance company may be more willing to settle your claim.
If it doesn’t settle and the driver is convicted after a criminal trial, the judge in your civil case may rule it shows the driver was drunk and make a liability ruling in your favor. The next step would be whether you suffered damages and, if so, how much you should recover.
If there was no conviction, establishing the driver was drunk would be part of your case they made serious mistakes, drove negligently, and is liable for your injuries. That’s much easier to prove in a civil case because your burden of proof (it’s more likely than not that the defendant caused your injuries) is much lower than the prosecution’s burden in a criminal case (the evidence shows the defendant committed a DWI beyond a reasonable doubt).
What Damages Are Available in a Drunk Driver Accident Case?
Depending on the evidence in your case, you could be compensated for different types of harm, including:
- Mental distress: This is severe emotional trauma caused by the accident, your injuries, and how they affect you
- Loss of consortium: It’s a claim by your spouse for the loss of your companionship, help, and services
- Lost income or earning capacity: If you miss work, you can be compensated for the pay and benefits you lost. If you suffer a permanent limitation affecting your future career, you could also be paid the difference between what you’re expected to earn with your limitation and what you should’ve made if you were never hurt
- Medical expenses: This is the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and emotional or psychological counseling you’ve received so far, as well as what these expenses are projected to be in the future
- Physical impairment: This is an amount for the loss of your physical capacity due to your injury
Punitive damages may be available when a defendant is grossly negligent, like driving while intoxicated. Facts that make these damages more likely include:
- The defendant’s prior DWI convictions
- Their blood alcohol level was above the legal limit
- They broke numerous other laws (like speeding, ignoring a stop sign or stoplight, or illegally passing other vehicles) before colliding into your vehicle
Unlike other damages, punitive damages aren’t meant to compensate you for the harm caused by the accident. They’re to punish the party and discourage them, and others, from doing the same thing in the future.
Protect Your Legal Rights and Hire a Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. Lawyer
Not getting the right legal help for your case can be a huge mistake, especially if your injuries are severe. They may significantly affect your personal and financial situation now and well into the future.
You don’t want to try to learn the law on the fly while negotiating with an insurance company yourself or retain an attorney without personal injury experience. We will get you the best possible outcome while you focus on recovery and your family.
Call Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P when you need a Houston personal injury lawyer with years of experience with the regional court system. We have helped many people like you obtain settlements and judgments for their injuries. Get in touch with our legal team today at (713) 364-0723 to schedule a free consultation. We can discuss what happened, how Texas law may apply, and how we can help.