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Personal Injury


February 28, 2023


Average Settlement for Drunk Driving Accidents in Texas

Drunk driving accidents can have devastating consequences, and when you or a loved one are the victims, it's important to get fair compensation. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer when it comes to personal injury settlements and if you don't understand the factors that contribute to the average settlement for drunk driving accidents in Texas, you could be missing out.

Hiring a professional DUI accident attorney in Texas can help ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case, so don't hesitate to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer who knows the law and will fight hard to win you the settlement you deserve.

Is DUI Accident a Civil or Criminal Case?

settlement after getting hit by drunk driver

The answer to the question of “Is a drunk driving accident case a civil or criminal case?” is both. When it comes to any kind of automobile accident involving a drunk driver, both civil and criminal charges may be brought against them.

Criminal charges will typically be issued in cases where the intoxicated driver caused injury or property damage, while civil penalties can sometimes be imposed if no one is injured, such as when the driver is accused of reckless driving, driving without a license, and/or fleeing the scene.

Depending on the severity of the incident, there is potential for a combination of both civil and criminal charges to be filed against an intoxicated driver involved in an accident.

Differences Between Drunk Driving and Regular Car Accident Cases

Drunk driving cases differ from regular car accident cases in a number of ways. As opposed to a regular car accident, where the goal is to prove the other driver was at fault or negligent, in drunk driving cases, proving the other driver was under the influence is enough to prove negligence.

In Texas, if a drunk driver caused an accident, it is often easier to prove that you were not at fault or less at fault than them. If successful in doing so, you are more likely to receive a larger settlement as well as a sense of justice and closure for what has been endured.

Who Pays in a Texas Drunk Driving Settlement?

Being hit by a drunk driver can be both an emotionally and financially devastating experience. The good news is that you can choose to take legal action, including suing the responsible party for damages.

In Texas, a variety of factors can influence who will pay in a drunk driving settlement, such as the severity of your trauma and injuries, whether another driver was involved (i.e., if you were a pedestrian or cyclist), and ultimately, the insurance companies' determinations. Depending on these items, it can be possible to recoup some of your medical expenses and other financial losses incurred as a result of the accident.

A qualified attorney can help guide you through seeking compensation for your damages due to the fault of someone else's reckless behavior.

Drunk Driving Accident: Who Is at Fault?

average settlement hit by drunk driver

When a drunk driver causes an accident, can you sue them? The answer is yes. In cases involving personal injury or property damage, victims are legally able to seek compensation from the drivers who hit them.

Even when intoxicants can be proven to be involved, in some instances, legal action can still be taken. Also, if the driver can be shown to have deliberately broken the law, for example, by driving recklessly or otherwise creating a dangerous situation that led to an accident, they can potentially face much more severe penalties. Ultimately, regardless of whether a drunk driver can be sued or not depends on the specifics of each individual case.

The Establishment that Served the Drunk Driver Alcohol

The dram shop law in Texas makes establishments liable if they serve alcohol to clearly intoxicated patrons. It's a stark reminder of the potential legal and financial penalties associated with serving alcohol to someone who ends up getting behind the wheel while drunk. Many restaurants, bars, and pubs abide by their servers' responsible drinking ethos, but not all establishments have been as vigilant in enforcing their dram shop policy.

Unfortunately, this lapse can put customers in danger when those intoxicated individuals make poor choices, like driving while under the influence. Given the level of awareness now surrounding vehicular intoxication and its consequences, every establishment serving alcohol should ensure they adhere to responsible dram shop laws, to prevent any misfortune linked to alcohol consumption.

Is a Drunk Driver Always at Fault in a Texas Car Accident?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes: if a drunk driver is involved in an accident in Texas, they will be considered at fault for the incident due to the dangerous impairment that being under the influence of alcohol can cause. In fact, even if there is another vehicle or pedestrian involved and it is investigated that they were potentially contributing to the accident, the responsibility still largely lies on the drunk driver since they should not have been operating a car while intoxicated and put their safety and the safety of others in jeopardy. Unfortunately, these incidents happen all too often and it is important to take safety precautions so that everyone stays out of harm’s way.

The Texas Comparative Fault System

The comparative fault system in Texas is an important legal tool used to determine liability in personal injury cases. This system looks at comparative negligence and assigns a percentage of fault to each party involved. Each party’s financial responsibility for damages is based on their percentage of fault in the incident. When a person can be shown to be less than 50% at fault, they can still recover money from the other involved parties, up to their comparative percentage of fault.

This comparative fault system helps to ensure that those injured through no fault of their own do not have to bear all of the costs related to the incident themselves. By determining who is primarily responsible for causing harm, the comparative fault system ensures fairness for all parties involved.

Factors Affecting the Compensation You Might Get from a Drunk Driving Accident Claim

hit by drunk driver

If you have been hit by a drunk driver in Texas, the compensation you might receive for your losses is based on several different factors. Even in the case that two people sustain the same injury, they may differ in terms of:

  • Length of time spent in the hospital;
  • Cognitive, physical, and behavioral impairments;
  • Duration of recovery;
  • Interference with their ability to work;
  • Type of rehabilitative therapy required;
  • Permanent disability or scarring;
  • Emotional impact.

What Types of Damages Can You Get in a Drunk Driving Settlement in Texas?

Victims of drunk driving accidents in Texas may be entitled to a settlement including economic damages as well as non-economic damages. Punitive damages may also be possible if the driver acted with gross negligence or reckless disregard. Knowledge of what you are entitled to is the key to ensuring adequate compensation.

Economic Damages

Economic damages in a drunk driving accident settlement in Texas may include:

  • Car damage, reflecting costs to repair the injured party's car;
  • Medical expenses, such as hospital bills, physical therapy, and medications;
  • Lost wages, reflecting those generated by being out of work for the recovery period; and
  • Lost earning capacity, resulting from an injury that leaves lasting effects on one's ability to earn an income.

These damages are represented by clear sums of money - such as the amount charged by a hospital or doctor for their services - and serve as compensation for any financial losses suffered as a result of the incident.

Non-economic Damages

compensation for being hit by a drunk driver

Non-economic damages in a drunk driving average settlement in Texas may include:

  • Mental or emotional distress, reflecting the psychological stress experienced as a result of the accident;
  • Pain and suffering, representing the physical pain endured;
  • Loss of companionship and/or consortium, meaning any losses experienced by the spouse of someone injured due to the loss of emotional benefits typical of a marriage, assistance with household chores, and/or intimacy.

These non-economic damages are more subjective than economic damages and can be difficult to quantify. It is beneficial to enlist an experienced personal injury attorney who can ensure you receive the maximum compensation deserved for your suffering.

Punitive Damages

In certain cases, a judge may order that the at-fault DUI driver pay punitive damages in addition to standard compensation awarded to the victim. Punitive, or exemplary, damages may be awarded in cases of gross negligence. These are not meant to compensate the victim, but to punish the wrongdoer for their actions.

In order for a court to grant punitive damages against a drunk driver, the accused must have been committing a crime at the time of the accident and must have shown "wanton misconduct". Courts can assign unlimited amounts for punitive damages, though Texas has set caps of two times economic damages plus an amount equal to noneconomic damages up to $750,000 or $200,000.

Wrongful Death

If a loved one has been killed in an accident involving a drunk driver, the family may have a wrongful death suit against them. Wrongful death suits can cover funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of earning capacity, and other damages.

Why Is It Important to Act Quickly After a Texas DUI Accident?

can you sue a drunk driver for hitting you

Acting quickly after a DUI accident in Texas is important for a variety of reasons. From providing legal protection to reporting any property damage, the sooner someone acts, the more options they'll have available to them. It's important for drivers involved in an accident to seek out medical care immediately, as well as notify their insurance company and any other parties involved in the accident. This can help establish a timeline of events that can be used as evidence if needed.

Additionally, it can be helpful to photograph or document the scene of the accident as quickly as possible. By taking swift action following a DUI accident, individuals can be sure to protect their rights and best interests in case of any legal consequences that result from the incident.

Get a Fair Settlement with Assistance from Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys in Texas

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, getting legal help is your right. At Brooks & Radchencko, our team of experienced Texas DUI accident lawyers can help you pursue the compensation you are entitled to for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

We have been helping personal injury victims for over two decades. You can trust us to dedicate ourselves to your best interests and fight hard to win the settlement you need to recover and heal. Plus, we do not charge any upfront fees; if we don't get you compensation, you pay nothing. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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