Can You File a Personal Injury Claim? What Are Your Potential Sources of Recovery?
According to statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in every four motor vehicle accidents across the United States are caused by a drunk driver. It’s also not uncommon for a drunk driver to be a repeat offender with little or no insurance. After all, when you’ve been convicted of a DWI or DUI, your insurance rates typically go up dramatically, making insurance less affordable.
If you’re hurt in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident by a motorist who was impaired by alcohol at the time of the crash, but who had adequate insurance, your course of action will likely be no different than for any non-alcohol-related accident. You’ll file a lawsuit alleging negligence, requiring you to prove in court that:
- the behavior of the defendant (person from whom you seek damages) did not conform to
- the standards expected of a reasonable person;
- the defendant caused the accident; and
- you suffered actual losses as a result of the accident.
What If the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured or Underinsured?
Texas does not adhere to no-fault principles for auto insurance, so you must bring legal action against the at-fault driver and their insurer. If the at-fault driver has no insurance, has coverage for property damage only, or has minimal coverage for personal injury, you may need to look for other potentially responsible parties. In such circumstances, you’ll need to prove the same three elements of negligence against the third party—breach of duty, causation, and actual losses.
When you’re hit by a drunk driver, one of the obvious sources of potential compensation is the bar, bartender, tavern, establishment, or person who provided the alcohol. Under Texas law, the provider of alcohol may be liable for any injuries caused by an intoxicated patron, provided it can be shown that:
- the provider served the defendant even though a reasonable person would have concluded, based on defendant’s behavior, that they were impaired by alcohol to the extent that they posed a clear danger to either himself or others; and
- your accident and injuries were reasonably foreseeable as a result of the impairment of the defendant.
Under Texas law, you can also bring a lawsuit against a vendor or social host who provided alcohol to a minor who caused an accident, but you must prove that:
- The person who caused the accident was under the age of 18;
- The person who supplied the alcohol was not the minor’s parent or guardian; and
- The person who provided the alcohol either knowingly served it or allowed the minor to be served.
Other potential sources of recovery after a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver include:
- Your own insurance company, if you have a provision in your policy for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured motorists
- The designer, manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of a dangerous or defective product that caused the accident
- The party responsible for maintaining the roadways, if your accident was caused by poorly maintained roads, broken or missing traffic signs, or other roadway defects
Contact the Proven Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we know the impact that a personal injury can have on every area of your life. If you have suffered any type of injury in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, send us an e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.