Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense in Texas. It is also
a clear failure of a driver’s legal obligation to take reasonable
precautions in order to safely operate their vehicles. Because drunk driving,
as well as drugged driving, is such an explicit act of negligence that
any driver knows will place others at risk, victims harmed by intoxicated
or impaired motorists are provided legal pathways through which they can
secure justice and financial compensation for their damages.
Texas, like every other state in the nation, prohibits drivers from getting
behind the wheel when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or
greater. Unfortunately, laws don’t always prevent individuals from
acting negligently, which is why Texas sees thousands of preventable injuries
and deaths caused by alcohol-related
car accidents every year. At Tom Rhodes Law Firm P.C., we have seen the life-altering
repercussions of drunk driving, and have represented many victims who
were seriously injured by motorists who failed to take their legal responsibility
of safety seriously. Over the years, we have helped DWI victims protect
their rights when pursuing
personal injury lawsuits, as well as families who filed
wrongful death claims after they lost loved ones in drunk driving wrecks.
If you or someone you love has recently been harmed by an impaired driver,
here are few important things you should know:
Criminal and civil cases are separate matters – While drunk drivers can and nearly always do face criminal charges
for driving intoxicated and causing accidents that injure others, it is
important to understand that these criminal cases are conducted separately
from any personal injury or wrongful death claim brought by victims. Because
criminal cases concern only whether an individual is guilty of a crime,
they are not a viable source of compensation. To recover damages, including
medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, victims need to
pursue claims in the civil justice system, where they use a different
burden of proof (a preponderance of the evidence) to show that a driver’s
negligence more likely than not caused them harm.
Intoxication is negligence – Injury lawsuits focus on proving negligence, and illustrating
this point in drunk driving accident cases is crucial. Because all drivers
have a duty of care to safely operate their vehicle, proving negligence
means proving intoxication. That’s because any reasonable person
knows drunk driving is against the law and dangerous, and that getting
behind the wheel impaired puts the lives of others at risk. Proof in these
cases often comes through evidence obtained by law enforcement, including
breath or blood tests showing alcohol intoxication. It is also strengthened
by evidence showing a driver’s failure to safely operate their vehicle,
such as swerving, speeding, or disobeying traffic signals.
Serious injuries make for high stakes – Drunk driving accidents have the potential to cause devastating
catastrophic injuries that forever change the lives of victims. When you or someone you love
experiences a serious injury, the stakes in your case is elevated. This
is often due to greater medical needs and, in some cases, expenses associated
with future care of injuries and disabilities. When serious injuries occur,
full and fair compensation is vital to helping victims rebuild their lives
and navigate their futures.
Damages recoverable by DWI victims – Victims of DWI accidents have the right to seek financial compensation
for the damages they incurred as a result of their injuries. These may
include economic damages such as medical costs (both past and future),
lost wages from missing work, diminished earning potential, therapy, and
more. Victims can also recover damages for their non-economic losses,
including their pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other emotional
injuries. In some cases where negligence is egregious or excessive, courts
may choose to award punitive or exemplary damages, which further punish
wrongdoers and set examples that such conduct should never be tolerated.
Fair compensation is not guaranteed – Although victims have rights to pursue lawsuits and recover their
damages, compensation is never guaranteed. This is because insurance companies
want to protect their bottom lines, and pay victims as little as they
can. They may also engage in scrupulous tactics to get victims to say
something that can be used against them, or to have them settle for less
than they deserve. For these reasons, it becomes important for victims
to work with proven lawyers who can fight for the compensation they deserve.
Discuss your drunk driving accident case personally with a member of Tom
Rhodes Law Firm P.C.
Contact us for a FREE consultation.