According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), alcohol-related traffic crashes in 2017 accounted for 28 percent of traffic fatalities on Texas roads. In 2017, more than 2,000 crashes involving alcohol occurred in Bexar County alone, resulting in 53 fatalities and about 900 injuries. In fact, someone is injured or killed on Texas roads about every 20 minutes as a result of alcohol, a stunning statistic that shows the full extent of the danger drunk drivers pose to drivers, bikers, and pedestrians.
Drunk driving accidents often result in severe or catastrophic injuries that inflict massive physical, mental, and financial stress on victims and their families. At the Law Offices of George Salinas, we believe these victims should never have to endure this challenging time alone. A qualified personal injury attorney with experience representing victims of drunk driving accidents can help victims recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses.
If you have suffered an injury or a tragic loss in a San Antonio drunk driving accident, contact The Law Offices of George Salinas at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Common Injuries That Result From Drunk Driving Accidents
Alcohol-related crashes often exert extremely violent forces on the occupants of the vehicles involved. Drunk drivers tend to exceed the speed limit and often collide with other vehicles head-on, leading to severe injuries and fatalities. Victims of these accidents often suffer one or more of the following injuries:
- Fractured and broken bones, orthopedic injuries, and traumatic amputations
- Head traumas that might result in traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries including cracked or herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries that might result in permanent or temporary paralysis
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Burns that might leave permanent scarring even after multiple corrective surgeries
Texas Dram Shop Laws and Liability for Drunk Driving
Intoxicated drivers are not the only parties who may share liability for causing drunk driving accidents. Like many other states, Texas has a dram shop law governing the liability of someone who serves alcohol to a person who subsequently becomes intoxicated and causes injuries in a drunk driving accident. A qualified attorney can advise you whether the dram shop law applies in your case. If it does, then in addition to any claim you may make against the drunk driver, you may also have the right to seek compensation from:
- A place of business that sells alcohol. Any store, bar, or restaurant who sells alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer or a minor who causes an accident may be liable for damages in Texas.
- A social host who served alcohol. Any person who throws a party or social function and serves alcohol to a non-related minor who causes an accident may be held liable under Texas law.
Seeking Compensation After a Drunk Driving Accident in San Antonio
After a drunk driving accident causes serious injuries, it can help to have a seasoned personal injury lawyer help you recover compensation by negotiating with insurance companies and/or taking legal action in Texas courts. Injured victims of drunk driving accidents in Texas can usually the following categories of damage to contribute to the amount of money they can seek:
- Medical expenses such as ambulance rides, emergency department visits, hospitalization, X-rays, surgeries, and more
- Future medical costs such as around-the-clock care for injuries that result in long-term disability or extensive recovery requiring multiple surgeries
- Rehab and recovery costs including physical therapy and assistive devices like prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, walkers, and canes
- Lost wages from missing work after a serious accident
- Future lost wages when a severe injury prohibits a victim from returning to work
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and scarring and disfigurement
- Punitive damages in the rare case in which the defendant acted with malice or gross negligence
If a drunk driving accident resulted in the loss of a loved one, families may be able to recover some of the damages above, and in addition, costs for funeral services. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help victims’ families determine their eligibility for compensation after losing a loved one.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been Hit by a Drunk Driver?
If you or a loved one have been injured in a drunk driving accident, it is almost always in your best interest to consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer with the experience and know-how to recover the maximum compensation for you under the law.
Until you have the opportunity to speak with a lawyer, here are some immediate steps to take after you have been hit by a drunk driver.
- See a doctor. If you weren’t transported to the hospital via ambulance, you need to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. You may feel okay, but some injuries don’t immediately present symptoms. Medical documentation of your injuries is also often necessary to maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome in a lawsuit.
- Report the accident to law enforcement. Report every drunk driving accident to the authorities and help bring drunk drivers to justice. Police reports of the accident and any charges filed against the drunk driver may prove critical in a subsequent legal action.
- Don’t talk to insurance companies. Insurance companies might offer you low settlements to avoid paying full and fair compensation for your injuries. Additionally, you might say something that an adjuster could use to devalue your claim. Let a lawyer handle all communications with an insurance company.
- Don’t post on social media. Avoid posting about your accident or injuries on social media. Investigators for the defendants might use anything you post to undermine your claim.
San Antonio Drunk Driving Accident FAQ
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, someone dies in a drunk driving accident in the United States every 48 minutes. A person suffers injuries from a drunk driving wreck every two minutes. In addition to criminal charges the drunk driver might incur, you may sue the driver or his or her insurance company for damages to cover the loss of a loved one or to pay medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
When is a driver considered drunk in San Antonio?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) measures a driver’s blood alcohol level to determine if he or she is driving under the influence. If the driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher, he or she is driving under the influence.
In one recent year, people driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 g/dL or higher accounted for 29 percent of vehicle accident fatalities, according to the NHTSA. In another recent year, 26 percent of those involved in accidents in Texas were killed by a drunk driver.
Do all of the states use the same threshold for determining DUI?
No. In almost every state, including Texas, the threshold is 0.08. If you’re traveling to Utah, however, it’s 0.05. What’s more, the 0.08 threshold provides the presumption of a DUI. In many states, if you exhibit signs of intoxication, you can still face driving under the influence charges with a BAC lower than 0.08—and face a civil claim for any damage you caused.
What is intoxication assault in San Antonio?
If a person causes “serious bodily injury” to another person while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the police can charge the intoxicated person with intoxication assault. The intoxicated person must be operating a motor vehicle, aircraft, amusement ride, or watercraft. Also, if a person causes serious bodily injury to another person while under the influence and while assembling an amusement ride, the police can charge the intoxicated person with intoxication assault.
What is a serious bodily injury in San Antonio?
Texas statutes define serious bodily injury as an injury that could cause the loss of a body part or function, the impairment of a body part or function, disfigurement, or a risk of death.
What is intoxication manslaughter in San Antonio?
When a person causes the death of another while driving under the influence causes the death of another person, the police can charge the intoxicated person with intoxication manslaughter. Driving under the influence could include motor vehicles, watercraft, and aircraft, or operating and/or assembling an amusement park ride.
Can I get punitive damages if I suffered injuries or my loved one was killed in an accident caused by driving under the influence in San Antonio?
While Texas does not allow exemplary damages for most crimes, it does allow for the possibility that the court could order the defendant to pay exemplary damages in some circumstances involving intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter. It is challenging to successfully receive exemplary damages in an accident involving someone driving under the influence. Your attorney will have to look at the circumstances of the accident to decide whether you can sue for exemplary damages.
What damages could I recover after an accident involving someone driving under the influence in San Antonio?
The amount and type of damages you could recover depend on your injuries. The two types of damages are economic and non-economic damages, typically referred to as special and general damages, respectively. Economic damages are those that have a set monetary value. Non-economic damages are those that do not have a set monetary value.
What are economic damages?
Economic damages could include:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Past and future lost wages;
- Capacity to earn;
- Property damages, including personal property and real estate;
- Physical, cognitive, and/or psychological therapy expenses; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Past medical expenses and lost wages are those that you lost before settlement or a jury verdict. Future medical expenses and lost wages are those that you expect to lose from the time of the settlement or jury verdict through the time you are cleared to go back to work. In some cases, injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities. In those cases, you might collect damages to cover the amount of money you would lose for the rest of your working life.
Additionally, if your capacity to earn is lowered and you could work, but not in the same field or position due to long-term or permanent disabilities caused by the accident injuries, the court or insurance company may award you partial future wages to make up the difference in your earning capacity.
What are non-economic damages?
Non-economic damages, like economic damages, aim to make you whole, but the items covered do not have a specific price tag. You cannot put a price on the amount a person suffers from physical pain or the pain of losing a loved one.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of use of a body part;
- Loss of use of a bodily function;
- Extra money for disfigurement;
- Extra money for amputation;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of companionship; and
Generally, the court only awards non-economic damages if your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, or if doctors expect those injuries to result in your death. If you lose a loved one because of a drunk-driving accident, the court can order the defendant (or the defendant’s insurance company) to pay for loss of companionship, loss of consortium, inconvenience, and emotional distress.
Should I try to settle my San Antionio drunk driving accident claim with the insurance company?
Never settle with the insurance company until you consult our San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyers. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Every dime they pay out affects their bottom line. Because of this potential conflict of interest, the insurance company you deal with may try to deny your claim or offer you the least amount possible on the claim.
When you retain a drunk driving attorney, the likelihood that the insurance company will offer you a low ball settlement decreases. Insurance companies often know that they do not have the same chance to convince you to accept a lower settlement offer if you have experienced counsel on your side.
If you suffer from injuries due to an accident caused by someone driving under the influence, or you lost a loved one because of a drunk-driving accident, contact a San Antonio drunk driving accident attorney for a free consultation.
Contact an Experienced San Antonio Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a drunk driving accident in the San Antonio area, you deserve full and fair compensation. Let an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer advocate for you while you focus on rehabilitation. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and learn how we might help.