Driver drinking and driving

Wichita Falls Drunk Driver Accident Lawyer

As a lawyer who handles drunk driving car accident cases in Wichita Falls, it is concerning when we learn from car accident victims that alcohol or drugs were suspected or known to have caused the wreck. It’s far too often that car accidents are caused by drunk and impaired drivers, which often results in very serious injuries and can have heartbreaking consequences.

It may be obvious that the driver who caused your car accident is drunk or impaired in some way. They may be tested at the scene of the accident by the investigating police officer, determined to be beyond the legal limit of .08% BAC (blood alcohol content), and arrested. Other times you may simply suspect that alcohol and/or drugs are involved by observing strange behavior, smelling alcohol, or seeing drugs or other paraphernalia. Whatever the circumstances may be surrounding your particular case, this article dives into your legal rights and remedies after a drunk driving car accident in Wichita Falls.

  1. Why do drunk driving car accidents often result in more severe injuries and fatalities than other types of accidents?

Whenever alcohol and/or drugs are involved in a car wreck, often times the consequences of that accident are much worse because alcohol and drugs impair a person’s ability to make good judgement as well as the body’s ability to function properly, all of which are essential and a requirement for good and safe driving. For example, alcohol and drugs effects a person’s judgement, reaction time, coordination, hearing, vision, and balance, among other things. As a result of this impairment, drunk drivers may swerve quickly, suddenly, and without control, drive the wrong way down one-ways, or even fall asleep at the wheel. It’s because of this reckless impairment that drunk driving car accidents often result in more damaging and deadly impacts causing serious injuries and fatalities, including rear-end impacts, head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, and multi-vehicle pileups.

  1. How common are drunk driving car accidents?

The average person doesn’t realize how common drunk driving car accidents really are. The statistics are extremely disheartening when you begin to really look at them. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash. Considering how dangerous these types of accidents are, these statistics are frightening. What’s more concerning is that all the other statistics don’t paint any better of a picture:

  • 2 out of 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their life

  • Alcohol levels above the legal limit were found in 21% of such drivers

  • More than 22% of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs in blood and/or oral fluid tests

  • During weekday daytime, 12.1% of drivers tested positive for an illegal drug; 10.3% tested positive for prescription and OTC medications. During weekend nighttime, 15.2% of drivers tested positive for an illegal drug; 7.3% tested positive for prescription and OTC medications

  1. What is the difference between criminal and civil liability for drunk driving in Texas and Oklahoma?

For driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs there are both criminal consequences. Criminal penalties are different from civil liability. For the criminal charges, a lawyer working for the state, the prosecutor, will attempt to punish the drunk driver. Depending on the circumstances and the background of the driver, the driver could lose their license, pay a hefty fine, or spend time in jail. Criminal cases are totally separate from civil cases.

In order to be compensated for injuries from a drunk driving accident, the victims of these accidents will have to have a personal injury lawyer file a civil lawsuit in civil court. While prosecutors strive to punish the driver by suspending their license or locking them in jail for a period of time, the job of a personal injury lawyer is to pursue and secure compensation for the victim’s injuries.

  1. What compensation is available to those who have been victims of drunk driving accidents?

In all car accidents, the at-fault party can be responsible for a variety of civil damages including past and future medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering. In addition, drunk drivers may be subject to punitive damages. While the aforementioned damages are aimed at compensating the victim and attempting to “make them whole” again, punitive damages are more so aimed at punishing the drunk driver for their actions and reckless behavior.

  1. How much is a Wichita Falls drunk driving accident claim worth?

As we’ve discussed in other content, despite what you may see online, there is not magic formula for determining what your car accident claim is worth. However, you can get a good idea or a range of what it is worth based on an evaluation of several factors, including:

  • How severe your injuries are

  • If you sought prompt medical treatment for your injuries

  • The diagnosis of your injuries and the methods of treatment

  • If you followed the method of treatment properly

  • If you have any permanent injuries, impairment, or scarring for your injuries

  • If you had preexisting conditions and the extent of those conditions

  • The circumstances surrounding the accident

  • Who was at fault

  • Whether it is clear who was at fault

  • Whether there were any witnesses

  • Whether there was evidence of alcohol or drugs

  • Whether the driver was arrested for alcohol or drugs

  • Available insurance coverage

  • Whether you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer

  • Other factors

  1. Is the drunk driver automatically responsible for all my damages in every car accident in Wichita Falls?

No, there is not any law that automatically makes a drunk driver responsible for the injuries you sustain in an accident caused by them. For example, if a drunk driver is injured in an accident caused by another driver, the drunk driver could be able to recover compensation for the accident. Texas and Oklahoma law requires that juries place percentages of fault for all involved in the accident.

  1. Do victims of drunk driving accidents need an attorney?

You are not required to hire an attorney. You can attempt to settle your case on your own. However, unlike a typical car accident, which may be easier to handle, a drunk driving car accident is much more complicated and there are a lot of factors that need to be accounted for that the average person doesn’t consider. An experienced personal injury attorney knows these factors and how to effectively use them in pursuit of securing you the maximum amount of compensation you can get for your accident.

Without an attorney, insurance companies likely won’t make a fair offer to victims by offering low-end settlements. The average person, though, may not know how low these offers are because they are not familiar with these types of cases and what is a good settlement and what is not. For example, an insurance company could misrepresent the amount of insurance that is available. The average person wouldn’t know how to dig deeper to find out every bit of insurance that is available.

Also, the insurance companies could deny your claim and say their insured was not at fault for the accident and say your injures are not that serious. We have written previous articles on how to deal with insurance companies and their adjusters. Given the extra factors involved in drunk driving accidents, it would almost always be beneficial for them to have an attorney evaluate their case.

  1. Who might have to pay the victim of a drunk driving accident money?

Victims of drunk driving accidents will pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, they may be able to receive compensation from their own insurance company as well if they have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Additionally, they may be able to receive from the drunk driver’s own personal assets. If the accident involved serious injuries or a death, these additional sources could be something to pursue.

Because of this, it’s important that victims of these accidents seek a free consultation from a drunk driving car accident lawyer. The complexities surrounding these cases make it difficult for the average person without legal training to pursue. It’s for this reason that we recommend that you at least speak with a personal injury attorney from Wichita Falls before speaking with the insurance company.

  1. Can bars and restaurants be held responsible for a drunk driving accident in Wichita Falls, Texas?

In some drunk driving car accidents, the victims may be able to file a lawsuit against a bar, restaurant, bartender, or server if the drunk driver was obviously intoxicated before leaving the bar or restaurant’s premise. These types of cases are known as Dram Shop cases and in such cases, you must prove that the bar or restaurant continued to serve alcohol to the drunk driver even when they became obviously intoxicated.

  1. How long do I have to file a claim from my drunk driving car accident in Texas or Oklahoma?

In all personal injury cases, in order to recover damages, the victim must file a personal injury lawsuit before a deadline, which is known as the statute of limitations. In Texas and Oklahoma, that deadline is two years from the date of the accident.

Our Wichita Falls Lawyer Can Help After a Drunk Driving Accident

If you still have questions about a drunk driving car accident claim, call our office at 940-569-4000 or fill out our contact form to set up a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We will give you a free evaluation and at the very least we will give you guidance on how to proceed on your own.

We’ve seen the impact accidents can have on people and we want you to recover in every way you can. Before you talk to an adjuster or sign any forms, at least download our free book, The Traveler’s Guide to the Universe of Personal Injury. If you’ve been in an accident involving a drunk driver and you want to protect your legal rights and maximize your compensation, call our Wichita Falls personal injury law firm today at 940-569-4000.