Houston Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Drunk Driver in Texas
When you have been injured by a negligent driver, the consequences can be severe. Add alcohol into the mix, and it gets even more complicated. Unfortunately, studies show that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is on the rise in Texas; even with fewer vehicles on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, alcohol-related crash fatalities rose by 6.3% in 2020.
At Payne Law Firm, we have worked with clients in Harris County and throughout Texas who were struggling to get back on their feet after devastating car accidents. If you were injured or if someone you love died in a drunk driving crash, we can help you understand your rights and fight for the justice you deserve.
Compensation for Drunk Driving Accident Victims
Driving while intoxicated impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle in several ways. Their reaction times are affected, as well as their decision-making abilities, visual perception, coordination, concentration, and more. As such, drunk driving accidents tend to occur at high speeds or involve especially dangerous types of collisions, such as head-on and side-impact crashes.
Victims are likely to experience catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. They are also likely to face significant financial losses, ranging from exorbitant medical bills to weeks, months, or even years of lost wages caused by temporary or permanent disability. Contending with these losses, along with the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the accident, can be extremely challenging.
At Payne Law Firm, we fight to secure maximum compensation for our clients. After a drunk driving accident, we may be able to help you recover the following damages:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Ambulance fees
- Surgeries and other treatments
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income/wages
- Lost earning capacity due to disability
- Lost future earnings
- Counseling services/therapy
- In-home assistance
- Home modifications
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Additionally, if your loved one died in a drunk driving accident, we may be able to help you recover wrongful death damages, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, the value of services and support provided by the deceased, and loss of love, companionship, consortium, counsel, and guidance.
In some drunk driving accident cases, it may also be possible to pursue punitive damages. These are a special type of damages that are meant to punish the at-fault party for egregious negligence and/or willful or wanton misconduct.
What If You Are Hit by a Drunk Driver With No Insurance?
Even if the intoxicated driver who hit you did not have insurance, there are still ways that you can recover compensation for your injuries:
- File an Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claim - Most Texas insurance policies include uninsured driver coverage in the event that you are hit by someone with no insurance. In this situation you may file a claim with your own insurance company to get the compensation you need.
- Sue the Drunk Driver Directly - You also have the option of filing a drunk driving lawsuit directly against the responsible party, whether or not they have insurance. Unfortunately, if the other driver does not have insurance it's unlikely that they will have the funds to pay for your damages directly.
Drunk Driving Laws in Texas
Like every other state, Texas has specific laws prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. While the official term is “driving while intoxicated,” or DWI, many people know it as driving under the influence, or DUI. Regardless of what it is called, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is illegal in Texas.
In Texas, it is unlawful to operate a car, motorcycle, truck, boat, or any other type of motor vehicle in the following situations:
- With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
- When impaired by alcohol or drugs, regardless of BAC
- With a BAC of 0.04% or higher when operating a commercial vehicle
- With any detectable amount of alcohol if the individual is under the age of 21
It is also important to note that “operating” a vehicle in Texas does not necessarily mean that the vehicle is in motion. It is possible for a person to be charged and convicted with DWI even if he or she is not actually driving but is merely affecting the function or enabling the use of a motor vehicle.
Texas Dram Shop & Social Host Laws
In some cases, it may be possible to bring a claim against the establishment, individual, or vendor who provided the drunk driver with alcohol. Under Texas dram shop and social host laws, vendors can be held legally liable when they provide alcohol to an individual who was clearly intoxicated so that one could reasonably know the individual presented a danger to him/herself and/or others. The law also states that social hosts can be held liable when they knowingly provide alcohol to a minor (under the age of 18) or allowed the minor to be served alcohol and the minor is not their child or legal custodian.
For individuals who are injured by drunk drivers, dram shop and social host laws can play a critical role in recovering fair compensation. Such claims can be brought against bars, restaurants, establishments, vendors, and social hosts in addition to claims brought against the drunk driver.
Will a Criminal DWI Conviction or Dismissal Affect Your Personal Injury Case?
Drunk driving accident lawsuits are civil claims. They are completely separate from criminal proceedings. This means that the outcome of a criminal DWI case against the drunk driver will not necessarily affect the outcome of your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. While a conviction can be helpful, as it can help establish that the defendant in your case was legally intoxicated and, therefore, negligent, it does not guarantee that your case will be successful. Similarly, if the drunk driver’s case is dismissed, their charges are reduced, or they are not charged with DWI at all, this does not necessarily mean that you do not have a case.
We encourage you to reach out to our Houston drunk driving accident lawyer to learn more, including how our team can help protect your rights. We have extensive experience representing victims of drunk driving accidents in civil litigation against at-fault drivers, establishments, vendors, and other liable parties and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.
Is the Drunk Driver Always At Fault?
While it's true that a drunk driver will usually be found to have some level of fault in a car accident, that doesn't necessarily mean that they will bear all of the fault. For example, if you were driving while distracted or were following the intoxicated driver too closely and rear-ended them when they stopped suddenly, you may be found to share some level of fault with the drunk driver. In situations like this, it's very important that you speak with a lawyer about your accident in order to protect your rights and ensure that you are strongly represented if the insurance company attempts to blame you.
Do not Wait; Call Today to Learn More
Our founding attorney, Jason E. Payne, is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, making him an expert in this area of law. All of our attorneys have extensive experience and have been recognized for their achievements in personal injury law, including a long history of success in complex litigation.
When it comes to helping you get back on your feet after a devastating drunk driving crash, trust the team at Payne Law Firm. We provide free initial consultations and do not collect any attorney fees unless/until we recover compensation for you.
Injured in a DWI crash? Call our drunk driving accident lawyers in Houston today for a free, confidential consultation: (713) 999-4801. We can help you pursue a drunk driving lawsuit settlement today.
“Payne Law Firm was invaluable in helping my family navigate the most difficult situation we had ever experienced. Mr. Payne and his entire staff were professional, responsive, and empathetic throughout the entire process.” - Fatimar J.
“My experience with "Payne Law Firm" was extraordinary! They were efficient, professional, and persistent. I have and will continue to recommend “Payne Law Firm” because you are treated like family!” - Sheori S.
“My experience at Payne Law Firm was very pleasant. I had no worries at all. He was there for everything I needed help with.” - Gloria J.
“I have used Payne Law Firm services on several different occasions and have always been pleased with the outcomes.” - Leonard J.
“Payne Law Firm calmed my fears and assisted with easing my pain, by always being available to answer my questions, calming my fears, explaining the law to me in layman’s terms, while offering comfort and support.” - Joyre T.
When a drunk driver causes a car accident, liability may apply to more entities than just the driver. The drunk driver will be held responsible, but so may be any establishment that overserved them. This is what makes these cases complex. Our firm is here to examine your case and discuss your options. We also are available to answer any and all questions that you may have.
Depending on your case, you may be entitled to compensation. This can be used to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. It can also be used for any necessary rehabilitation treatment. Your pain and suffering may not have a price, but compensation can help take the pressure off you while you are recovering. We will do everything we can to fight for you during this difficult time. While we try to solve every case amicably, we are not afraid to go to court if that is what is right.
Client-FocusedWe will help you every step of the way, providing answers to your questions and continuing to update you on the status of your case.
A History of SuccessWe have helped over a thousand injured individuals and families get the compensation they deserved.
Battle-TestedWe not only understand the complexities of insurance companies but know how to fight them.
Full TransparencyOur team knows the importance of your case and is committed to doing what is best for you.