Being the largest state in the US has its fallbacks. One of which being that Texas routinely ranks first in DWI vehicular accidents. Often, the resulting accidents are catastrophic events that can affect a family forever. On average, a Texan dies every nine hours and six minutes from an alcohol-related crash, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Allow us a brief PSA: if you’re going out drinking, use Lyft. Here at AZ Law Firm, we believe one DWI-related death is one too many. Our personal injury lawyer Austin TX team is committed to securing justice for victims of drunk driving accidents.
What is the legal alcohol limit?
Under the law, any person is legally intoxicated if they are detected to have a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL. Should this person be operating a vehicle, they are subject to be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI). If this person was involved in an accident with a BAC of at least .08 g/dL, they are subject to more charges.
It is worth noting, a person with a BAC lower than .08 g/dL at the time of an accident may still be charged with a DWI if they do not have proper use of their mental or physical faculties.
How are drunk driving accidents different from other car accidents?
In large part, drunk driving accidents are like other types of serious car accidents. Both involve severe injuries, an attempt to assign liability, and the concluding negotiations with insurance providers for settlement.
Crucially, DWI accidents are different in two respects. First, proof of a DWI constitutes negligence per se. Meaning to successfully hold a person liable in a drunk driving accident, only two of the negligence elements must exist. The four elements of negligence are:
In this case, we must only prove that the defendant caused your resulting harm (i.e. Causation & Harm).
Second, it is much more likely that an injured person(s) in a drunk driving accident will receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are in addition to compensatory damages (the compensation for the loss associated with the plaintiff’s injuries). Punitive damages are most likely to be awarded in DWI accidents for two reasons. One, to punish the defendant’s egregious behavior. Two, to deter others from engaging in identical behavior.
It is hard to say if punitive damages are effective in deterring further actions from society. Nevertheless, such punitive damages are only applicable if the defendant acted either intentionally or with gross negligence. Overwhelmingly, driving while intoxicated establishes gross negligence in most cases. It is a consequence of proving negligence per se, meaning the drunk driver will most likely be held either entirely or at least partially liable for the resulting accident.
However, there is an exception. If the injured person was also engaging in negligent behavior, they might be held partially liable. Though, it is unlikely they would be held liable to the same degree as the intoxicated driver.
Additionally, a third party could be at fault. In these circumstances, it is usually the manufacturer of a defective vehicle part or a third-party driver. If this is the case, parties will be “jointly and severally liable,” which in Texas means that all liable parties will owe you the complete compensation awarded.
Modified Comparative Fault State
Texas operates as a modified comparative fault state which directly affects the damages awarded. Modified comparative fault state establishes a fault to damages awarded formula. For example, if the damages proven are $100K, but the jury or judge finds you at 20% fault in the accident, your damages awarded will be $80K. Also, if the judge or jury finds you to exceed 50% at fault, you are prohibited from recovering any damages.
Be prepared. Steps to take after being hit by a drunk driver:
First and foremost, remain calm. A lot of drunk drivers will panic and try to flee the scene. So, you must call 911 immediately. Note the make, model, and license plate of the offending vehicle. Also, observe the behavior of the intoxicated driver. It is not unusual for a drunk driver to attempt to hide alcohol bottles and other evidence. Once the police &/or emergency response arrive, articulate why you suspect the other driver is intoxicated. Your statement is critical. It may serve to establish the officers with the necessary grounds to administer a field sobriety test.
Next, if you have resulting injuries, let the emergency response services take you to the hospital. You will want to save all doctor’s diagnoses, prescriptions prescribed, and treatment given. Finally, contact our personal injury lawyer Austin TX team. The State will charge the offending drunk driver formally. So the driver will likely face jail time and fines. But, you will need to hire representation to sue for damages resulting from the accident.
How our Personal Injury Lawyer Austin TX team can help drunk driving victims?
In the circumstances surrounding a drunk driving accident, our lawyers are here to act as your support system, confidant, and ultimately, your protector. Personal injury lawyers work for you rather than law enforcement or an insurance company. We will file, analyze events related to the crash, and gather facts from witnesses and experts as needed. If circumstances warrant it, our team will subpoena testimony from the arresting officer. Furthermore, we will demonstrate how the sustained injuries affect your health, both long and short term. All of these factors will be taken into consideration when determining the punitive damages awarded.
Permit us a final word of warning for all Texas drivers. Remain alert, cautious, and aware of your surroundings. Avoid late-night driving when you are statistically more vulnerable. When traveling urban areas, drive at a safe distance from other vehicles. When traveling rural areas, drive defensively when approached by oncoming traffic. Be prepared for the car to swerve or drift into your lane. If you see someone exhibiting behaviors of a drunk driver, be a patriot, call 911.
Stay safe, Austin.
To find out how we can help you, contact one of our Personal Injury Lawyers at 512-400-7070 or send us a message. We will schedule an initial client consultation to review your case details and lay out a game plan for your personal injury case. Additionally, we will not charge you for our services unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for your case. Whether you are dealing with an uninsured motorist, the manufacturer of a defective product, or an insurance company, AZ Law Firm will pursue the legal action necessary to secure justice and financial restitution for you and your loved ones.
- evaluating and explaining to you the pros and cons of your individual case
- discussing with you any available options and our proposed strategies as it relates to your case
- providing guidance and recommendations regarding any proposed settlement offer
- quickly and effectively communicating with you during each step of the process so that you are not left in the dark
- taking your case solely on a contingent fee basis
- and aggressively protecting and defending your rights
We understand times are tough and that there probably hasn’t been a tougher time in your life. Although we could get away with charging exuberant amounts, we prefer not to as we are a law firm by the people, for the people. We do not want you to worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney to protect and defend your rights. Call us and be surprised at the quality you receive compared to what other law firms will quote you!
Accordingly, the attorneys at AZ Law Firm will always provide you with a free initial consultation. During this initial consultation, one of our personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case, inform you of any legal options that may be available, and allow you to ask any questions that you may have. AZ Law Firm offers affordable rates for all our clients and will work with you on payment plans. Our firm accepts checks, debit cards, and most major credit cards to cover the costs of your legal representation.