According to the Texas Department of Transportation, accidents involving a drunk driver kill or injure one person every 20 minutes in Texas. In 2018 there were over 1,800 drunk driving accidents in San Antonio alone, accounting for more than 10 percent of the state’s drunk driving accidents. When a driver chooses to get behind the wheel after they have been drinking, they not only risk their own lives but the lives of other drivers on the road. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a drunk driver, an experienced San Antonio auto incident lawyer can help you fight for your rights.
See Something. Say Something.
Drunk driving is dangerous. Recognizing the signs of an intoxicated driver can keep you and other drivers safe. If you see someone who is drinking and driving, don’t hesitate to call 911. Though it may not always be easy to spot a drunk driver, some of the most obvious signs to look out for include:
- Swerving: Swerving is one of the most tell-tale signs of a drunk driver. Alcohol makes it difficult for a driver to accurately gauge where they are in the lane. If a driver swerves into oncoming traffic it can lead to a head-on collision which can be fatal.
- Driving the wrong way: Alcohol affects a driver’s judgment and ability to process. Because of this they may miss directional signs or intentionally drive the wrong way.
- Failing to obey traffic laws: A drunk driver is often focused on getting from one location to another without getting pulled over. This may cause them to forget or disregard common traffic laws. This may include failing to signal, driving without headlights, or running a stop sign.
- Following too close: Drinking can affect a driver’s depth perception, causing a driver to follow closer than they realize. This combined with delayed response time can increase the risk of rear-end accidents.
Holding All Parties Accountable
In some circumstances, there may be other parties who contributed to the drunk driver being on the road. In this case, these parties may hold some financial responsibility for the accident. These parties include:
- A bar or bartender: Under Texas’ dram shop laws, a provider can be held liable if that person knowingly serves a person who is “obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others.”
- An adult who serves a minor: An adult over the age of 21 can be held liable for an accident if that person knowingly serves alcohol to a minor under the age of 18. Additionally, any adult who allows a minor to be served may hold responsibility.
The Legal Consequences of Drinking and Driving
Driving under the influence is not only dangerous, it’s illegal. Texas has harsh penalties for anyone caught drinking and driving. The state considers anyone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 legally intoxicated. Drivers suspected of driving under the influence are legally required to submit to a blood-alcohol test. If the driver refuses to take a blood or breath test, the driver’s license will automatically be suspended for one year. While the legal limit is 0.08, anyone obviously under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be arrested for a DWI, regardless of their blood alcohol content.
After the first offense, a driver may face a fine up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. They will also have their license suspended for one year. Subsequent offenses will result in serious consequences. Upon the third DWI, a driver can face up to 10 years in jail.
None of that, however, helps victims pay for the injuries they sustained in accidents caused by drunk drivers. For that, you need to hire a car accident lawyer with experience pressing drunk driving accident claims.
Compensation for Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents can lead to serious injuries. Knowing your rights and getting the compensation you deserve can help with the recovery process. The amount you will receive from a personal injury claim will depend on the specific circumstances of your case but common damages include:
- Medical costs: Medical costs associated with an accident can add up quickly. Reimbursable costs may include doctor visits, physical therapy, medication, medical transport, and surgical procedures.
- Time loss: A serious accident can lead to missed time at work. When this happens, it can become difficult to pay your bills. A personal injury claim can help you recover wages lost because of your injuries. Some injuries may require extensive treatment or prevent the victim from being able to return to work. In these cases, the victim may recover future medical costs.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If your injuries are so severe that you are unable to return to your previous line of work, you may have a claim for vocational assistance. This can include certificate courses, college classes, or special training.
- Pain and suffering: The physical pain associated with an injury can last years beyond the initial injury. Pain and suffering is designed to compensate victims for physical pain, emotional distress, and other non-specific damages.
- Loss of enjoyment: When an injury prevents you from participating in activities you enjoy, you deserve to be compensated. Loss of enjoyment can apply to recreational activities as well as household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and gardening.
- Punitive damages: Drunk driving is often the result of gross negligence and a disregard for others. Because of this, a victim may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are used to penalize a person for, particularly egregious behavior.
- Wrongful death: Drunk driving can be deadly. In 2018, 42 people lost their lives in a drunk driving accident. In addition to criminal charges, a drunk driver may be civilly liable for causing the death of another person.
Protect Your Rights
Though a drunk driving case may seem straightforward, many legal considerations can affect the outcome of your case. An experienced defense attorney and powerful insurance company can muddy the waters and make your case more difficult to prove. If you were injured by a drunk driver, consult a personal injury attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case, gather the necessary evidence, and help you get the compensation you deserve.