Like in all other states, drunk driving is illegal ─ and unacceptable ─ in Texas. For those convicted, the penalties include high fines and a potential jail sentence. For victims of these accidents, though, the consequences are much worse.
Drunk driving accidents are life-changing for innocent victims who, through no fault of their own, are hit by an impaired driver. Recovering from the severe injuries can take months or even years after a crash. When these crashes are fatal, as they often are, life for surviving family members will never be the same.
Accident victims and their loved ones may be entitled to compensation to help them recover from these devastating crashes. At Burch Law Firm, our drunk driving accident lawyers can help you understand your legal rights and demand justice through a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more.
Why Choose Burch Law Firm?
Many people think that after a drunk driving accident, it will be fairly simple to get fair compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. After all, the other driver was clearly at fault, particularly if the police report indicates they were drunk at the time of the crash.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Insurance companies have a reputation for minimizing the losses accident victims face, with many tactics to reduce or deny claims.
- For more than 30 years, Burch Law Firm has been taking on these insurance companies and their lawyers. We know how they operate, and we aggressively fight for the rights of our clients. Our skilled car accident attorneys demand the maximum compensation that our clients need to move forward with their lives.
- Our dedicated team will conduct a thorough investigation of your crash, collect evidence to prove fault, and handle all of the paperwork associated with your claim. We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for you, and our team is always here to answer your questions and talk about your concerns.
- In our law firm, there are more attorneys than support staff. This means that when you trust us with your case, you are always working with a lawyer, not a paralegal or a legal secretary. Although our support staff members are extremely experienced and professional, we understand that you need legal advice directly from a respected attorney, and our lawyers are here to provide it.
Legal Options for DUI Victims and Surviving Family Members
Although the drunk driver may be facing criminal charges, you and your family can also pursue justice through a civil personal injury claim. In a personal injury claim, you are holding the drunk driver responsible for paying financial compensation for your losses.
The civil justice system is much different from the criminal justice system. Although a criminal case may arise from your accident, your involvement with that case will be very limited, if you are involved at all. During a criminal case, the state’s prosecution attorney will try to prove that the driver is guilty of drunk driving beyond a reasonable doubt. If the driver is convicted, he or she will then have to pay high fines to the state and may face jail time. You will not receive any of those fines, though.
Instead, you have a right to demand financial compensation through a civil claim. There are two types of accident claims a person may file after a drunk driving crash:
- Victims who were hurt in the crash can file a personal injury claim. A conviction in the criminal case can help prove fault in the personal injury claim, but that is not always the case. Our personal injury lawyer will investigate your crash, obtain police reports and other evidence to prove fault, and accurately estimate the full amount of damages you need. Our drunk driving accident lawyer will also negotiate aggressively with the insurance company and take your case to trial if necessary.
- Surviving loved ones who have lost someone in a crash can claim compensation through a wrongful death claim. This type of claim also requires a thorough investigation, collection of evidence, and dealing with insurance companies. Our drunk driving accident lawyer can walk your family through this process and handle all the details of your claim.
Demanding Maximum Compensation for Accident Victims
In Texas, the compensation available for injured victims is divided into special damages and general damages:
- Special damages include out-of-pocket expenses such as emergency medical care, long-term hospital care, physical therapy, lost income, and lost future earnings.
- General damages include losses that do not have a concrete value, and so they are harder to calculate. These damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, there are other damages you can claim, as well:
- You can claim any losses the deceased suffered before his or her death, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
- You can also claim any losses you have sustained as a result of the death, such as funeral and burial expenses, loss of income the deceased contributed to the household, and loss of consortium.
How Long Do You Have to File a Drunk Driving Accident Claim?
In Texas, the statute of limitations places a time limit on how long you have to file a claim for compensation after a drunk driving accident. If you file your claim after this time period, the courts will bar you from receiving any compensation. Both personal injury claims and wrongful death claims have a statute of limitations of two years in Texas.
For this reason, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Prior to filing your claim, your lawyer will need to conduct a full investigation, collect medical records, consult with experts, and craft a strong case. All of this takes time. The sooner you seek legal advice, the better off you will be.
What Constitutes Drunk Driving?
In Texas, a driver is considered drunk when he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, a person may be considered impaired even when the BAC is lower than the legal amount. If a driver shows signs of impairment, such as weaving in between lanes of traffic or otherwise driving erratically, he or she may still be charged and convicted of drunk driving.
What If the Driver Was Not Insured?
Being hit by a driver who does not carry proper auto insurance can make a personal injury claim more challenging. However, it does not mean that you cannot claim compensation for your crash.
Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is required for all Texas auto insurance policies. This coverage allows accident victims to claim compensation for their injuries through their own policy when the other driver did not have proper insurance. The amount of compensation available depends on the policy limits, but the minimum amount of coverage in the state is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident.
When you schedule your free consultation with our drunk driving accident attorney, be sure to bring a copy of your own auto insurance policy for review. Our team will identify all possible sources of compensation in your case to ensure we are pursuing the full amount you need to recover.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After Being Injured by a Drunk Driver
Being involved in any car accident is frustrating, but learning that the other driver was drunk is even more upsetting. It is important that you remain calm so that you can ensure your rights are protected.
- Call the police: In Texas, you must call the police any time an accident results in injury, death, or excessive property damage. Following the law and reporting an accident promptly can help protect your rights. When the police come, they will investigate the crash and conduct tests to determine whether the other driver is drunk. The police accident report can be strong evidence in your insurance claim.
- Seek medical attention: Your health is the most important priority after a crash. Seeing a doctor immediately after an accident will ensure you receive proper treatment and that your injuries are documented.
- Save evidence: Photos of the crash scene and other physical evidence are crucial when proving your claim. Also save the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
The most important step you can take when trying to protect your rights after an accident is to contact a personal injury lawyer. An attorney from Burch Law Firm will deal with the insurance company, advise you of the next steps to take, and explain all your legal options.
If you have been hurt in a crash, call our New Braunfels drunk driving accident lawyers at Burch Law Firm today. We know how to hold drunk drivers accountable for their actions, and our attorneys will fight for the full and fair compensation you need.
Contact us now to schedule a free consultation so we can get started on your case.