Drunk driving is a problem across the country, and especially in Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation estimates that someone is injured or killed in the Lone Star State every 20 minutes due to drunk driving. Drivers who are under the influence may cause more severe wrecks because of their slower reaction time and inability to comprehend the consequences of their actions. In addition to more serious wrecks, there are a few other differences between wrecks involving a driver who is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and regular car wrecks that you should be aware of.
Potential Damages After a DWI Wreck
As with most car accidents, if you are injured in a crash with a drunk driver, you can hold that driver responsible. As an accident victim, you have the right to pursue compensation for all economic and non-economic damages related to the crash. Some of the potential damages might include:
● Costs for medical treatment, including past and future expenses
● Lost income
● Emotional distress
● Pain and suffering
● Diminished earning capacity
● Diminished quality of life
The drunk driver may also have to pay punitive damages. Also called exemplary damages, these are meant to penalize the drunk driver for their behavior and serve as a warning to others.
In Texas, punitive damages may not exceed $200,000 or twice the number of economic damages, plus an equal amount of non-economic damages, up to $750,000. These damage caps can be waived under some circumstances, such as if the drunk driver caused great bodily harm to the victim.
DWI Criminal and Civil Cases
In addition to facing civil liability to compensate you for your injuries, the drunk driver who caused your crash will likely face criminal charges as well. You will have to pursue civil charges against the drunk driver separate from the criminal case. In a criminal case, the drunk driver may receive a fine, jail time, and other consequences, but compensating you for your injuries and property damage is not part of the process.
The outcome of your personal injury case is independent of the outcome of the criminal case, although some of the evidence may overlap. For instance, you may need to obtain evidence from the criminal investigation, such as the driver’s blood test results, to help prove negligence.
Dram Shop Laws and DWI Wrecks
Others could share in the liability for the crash and your injuries. Your attorney might investigate the possibility of dram shop liability, which could place some of the liability with the commercial seller of alcohol. If the drunk driver is a teen who was drinking at someone's home, the host who served the alcohol could also be held responsible. Hosts over the age of 21 who knowingly provided alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 could be held liable if they are not the parent, guardian, or spouse of the minor.
Seeking an Attorney’s Perspective
As you’ve seen, DWI cases can be complex. You may need an attorney to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. To find out if our firm is the right fit for your case, connect with us by submitting this form or call us at 214-888-2216.