Forcing the Guilty to Take Responsibility for Consequences of Their DWI Accidents
Drunk driving accidents are a huge problem in Texas. In 2014 alone, Texas saw 24,386 crashes that were caused by alcohol-related negligence. Over the course of one year, these accidents led to over 1,000 deaths and over 14,000 injuries—and some victims failed to report minor injuries.
To put these statistics into perspective, on average three people a day are killed in Texas and 42 injured, all because of the stupid decision that drivers make to get behind the wheel after they’ve had too much to drink. In other words, these deaths and injuries are pointless and could be avoided if Texan drivers would take more responsibility in their sobriety and the safety of those around them.
Responsibility—Who’s to Blame?
It is an unfortunate reality that a significant percentage of DWI accidents cause innocent victims to lose their lives. These types of accidents shatter the lives of surviving family members, who are left to try and pick up the pieces. However, there may, at least, be some form of financial compensation available if liability can be determined.
In a fatal DWI accident, the impaired driver who is often considered liable. However, to successfully assign fault in a legal claim, you may need to seek legal counsel to assemble the necessary evidence.
This evidence might include:
- Breathalyzer results. This will document the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood at the time of the accident.
- The police report. The officer’s account of the situation as well as his opinion of the driver’s sobriety will carry great weight with the court.
- Blood or urine test results. Results of any bodily fluid test given to determine the amount of alcohol in the body immediately following the accident can help establish that the driver was intoxicated.
- Field sobriety test results. The law enforcement officer’s documented results of how the driver performed field DWI tests such as touching his nose and walking a straight line can determine the driver was impaired regardless of the alcohol level in his bloodstream.
- Witness statements. Any eyewitness reports that can corroborate that the driver was driving erratically or had been drinking heavily prior to the accident can be significant at trial or settlement conference.
Once it has been determined that a driver’s intoxication caused the injurious or fatal collision, he can be held criminally responsible and be susceptible for liability accusations through a personal injury claim.
Accountability: Ensuring the Liable Party Answers for His Mistake
In Texas, as in other states, a driver whose inebriation and behavior on the road causes or contributes to an accident can be held both legally and financially accountable for the resulting damage. Unfortunately, many victims of DWI offenders mistakenly believe that if the culpable driver has his criminal charges dropped or minimized by the state, that they no longer have the right to file a personal injury claim. This is not the case; they most assuredly do retain the right. Even if the criminal charges for the DWI accident were dropped, you still have the opportunity to bring a civil suit against the driver for causing your accident.
Although it will certainly help your case if you can enter into the record that the driver was convicted of a DWI for the accident, the standard of proof differs between criminal and civil courts. In criminal law, a person is guilty only if the proof demonstrates guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In civil court, however, it must only be demonstrated that it’s “more than likely” that the defendant was responsible for the accident for him to be held liable.
One important piece of evidence that will help your case—regardless of how the criminal case was handled—is the police report. The officer who responded to the accident scene will have made a notation about alcohol.
Peace of Mind: The Help You Need to Pursue Your Claim
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, it’s smart to learn about your legal rights. By filing a personal injury suit against the drunk driver who was responsible for the accident, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your medical bills and more.
There are several steps you can take after the accident to increase your chances of a successful outcome to your lawsuit. These include…
- Heal. While it may seem like common sense, it’s worth spelling this out: You should put as much energy as possible into getting well again. Follow all of your doctor’s instructions and do not miss your medical appointments. Besides improving your quality of life and getting you back on your feet faster, this can also help your case by providing valuable documentation of your injuries; no one will be able to say that you were faking or didn’t want to get better.
- Document. Write down anything you can remember about the wreck. Collect as much information about the incident as possible, including pictures and video of the accident scene and police reports, if any were made. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who might be able to help your case. All of this information will be persuasive when telling your story to the jury.
- Call. As soon as you’re able, contact an experienced and trustworthy personal injury lawyer like attorney Steve Lee. He’ll be able to help you gather the evidence you need and prepare a plan of attack to pursue your injury claim.
- File. Naturally, you have to file and follow up on your lawsuit—or have your attorney act on your behalf. Also, you should prepare yourself for a possible battle with one or more insurance companies. They have well-paid, skilled lawyers working on their behalf to keep payouts as low as possible. But don’t worry, with Steve Lee on your side, we’ll be able to tip the scales in your favor.