The Rights of Victims in Drunk Driving Accidents
According to studies, there are nearly 40 alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in Texas every single day. Nearly 40% of all traffic fatalities in Texas in 2016 involved a driver under the influence of alcohol. The unfortunate reality—many DWI/DUI defendants in Texas are repeat offenders—a national study found that nearly 60% of convicted drunk drivers continued to drive, even though their licenses had been suspended. Because of the dramatic premium increases that can result from a DUI/DWI, many of those drivers are on the road without insurance or with minimal insurance. That can complicate matters significantly, particularly in Texas, where drivers are required by law to carry insurance to cover losses to other parties.
Here’s a checklist of the things you want to do when you’ve been hit by an intoxicated driver in Texas:
- Tend to your injuries first — Before you do anything else, make certain you get the medical care you need. Be willing to go to the hospital by ambulance, if necessary. If you are able to move under your own power, go to an emergency room, an urgent care facility or your personal physician as soon as possible, for two reasons. First, the sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of full recovery. Second, the longer you wait, the greater the risk that you’ll suffer an intervening injury, making it more difficult to prove fault.
- Gather information — In Texas, you’ll pursue recovery for your losses from the at-fault party or his/her insurer. Get contact information from the driver who caused the accident—name, address, phone number, e-mail address and insurance provider. Identify all witnesses and get contact information from them. Get out your phone and take pictures of anything related to the accident—skid marks on the road, the weather conditions, the damage to all vehicles, any injuries you have suffered.
- Determine whether you have UM/UIM coverage — If the other driver was drunk, there’s a significant likelihood that he/she either had no insurance or had minimal insurance. If that’s the case, pull out your own motor vehicle insurance policy to determine if you purchased additional coverage for accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists. Your insurance policy may seem like Greek to you—don’t count on your insurance agent volunteering information about UM/UIM coverage—it’s better to have your attorney review the policy.
- Look for other potentially responsible parties — You’re not limited to bringing a claim against the other driver. If you can show that a third party was negligent, and that it caused the accident (in part or in whole), you can seek damages from that person. One of the first places to pursue compensation after a drunk-driving accident is the person and/or establishment that served the alcohol, under dram shop and social host liability claims. You will likely need to show that the person serving the alcohol either knew the other person was intoxicated, or served a quantity sufficient to lead to inebriation. Other potential avenues of legal action include:
- Product liability — if the accident was caused by a dangerous or defective product, such as a vehicle part
- Vicarious liability — Where the person driving the vehicle did not own the car, but the owner knew or should have known of the driver’s history or risk of driving while intoxicated
- Respondeat superior — Where the drunk driver was in the course of his or her employment at the time of the accident. You may have a claim against the employer.
- Roadway defects — Where the accident was caused, in some way, by dangerous conditions on the road
Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we fight for the rights of people who have been hurt because of the carelessness or negligence of others. To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our offices near you. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.