Injured by a Drunk Driver?
We all have a responsibility to know when enough is enough. Drunk driving (DUI, also known as DWI) is one of the top causes of car accidents in Texas, and the real shame is that it is entirely preventable. Not only is drunk driving foolish and irresponsible, it is against the law. Alcohol consumption contributes to thousands of accidents in Texas annually, and these accidents can be extremely serious to those involved. In addition to physical injuries, injuries caused by a drunk driver can result in additional issues, like post traumatic stress disorder. When a drunk driver injures you, the law is on your side—recoveries in these types of cases can be unusually large—but only if handled by an experienced personal injury attorney.
If you suffered injuries because another person broke the law and was driving drunk, do not wait to discuss your rights with a skilled drunk driving accident law firm. Attorney Stewart Guss has represented the rights of many injured individuals in and around Houston, so please do not hesitate to contact our office if you’ve been in an accident.
Drunk Drivers Are Dangerous
There’s no question about it—drunk driving is dangerous. Too many people underestimate their level of intoxication, and some even think they are “good” drunk drivers. But there is no such thing as a good drunk driver and every single person who drives while impaired puts everyone else on the road at risk of harm.
While law enforcement officers are often on the lookout for drunk drivers, they cannot catch all of them, and many cause harm before the authorities discover them. Many different erratic driving behaviors are common among drunk drivers, including:
- Swaying or swerving out of designated lanes
- Sudden and unnecessary braking
- Exceeding or driving less than the speed limit
- Failing to turn on lights or use turn signals
- Driving the wrong way on one-way roads or highways
- Failing to react to slowing traffic or obstacles
- Ignoring traffic signals or stop signs
In general, alcohol significantly impairs the reflexes, attention, and reaction times of drunk drivers, which can lead them to crash in many different ways. No matter how they crash into another vehicle, the injuries that result can destroy lives.
Types of Crashes Caused by Impaired Drivers
The erratic nature of drunk driving more commonly causes certain types of collisions than others. Examples of crashes that drivers who are under the influence of alcohol regularly cause include:
Head-on collisions – If a drunk driver is going the wrong way down a road, head-on collisions commonly result. In addition, a drunk driver who departs from a lane and veers left over a double-yellow line has a high risk of crashing head-on into an oncoming car.
Rear-end collisions – Because impaired drivers are often unable to pay close attention to the road, they can often miss traffic slowing or stopping in front of them. This can cause them to crash into the backs of other cars. While some people discount rear-end crashes as “fender-benders,” they actually have the potential to cause severe injuries.
Rollover crashes – Drunk drivers often misjudge their speeds on turns, make dangerous lane changes, or overcorrect driving mistakes. All of these can cause drunk drivers to lose control and their cars to flip or roll over. While rollover accidents can involve one vehicle, the drunk driver’s vehicle can easily crash into others or cause chain-reaction crashes that harm other drivers.
No matter the type of collision, a drunk driver can cause always cause serious injuries to unsuspecting motorists.
The Rights of Drunk Driving Victims
Texas law provides rights for people who sustain injuries due to the negligence or wrongdoing of others. All drivers have the legal duty to drive in reasonably safe ways, and drunk driving is certainly a breach of that duty. When such a breach causes injuries to others, a driver is negligent and liable for all of the damages and injuries that result.
As a drunk driving victim, financial recovery is not automatic, however. Instead, accident victims need to take affirmative steps to seek the compensation they need and deserve for their injuries. That process can confuse people who are already dealing with the stress of recovering from injuries. For this reason, enlist the help of an experienced drunk driving attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
An attorney can advise you of your rights as an injury victim, which may include:
- The right to file an insurance claim with the drunk driver’s auto insurance company
- The right to file a legal claim in civil court for personal injury
In either case, you can seek compensation for losses that were a direct result of your accident-related injuries. These can include medical bills, such as from the emergency room, hospitalization, surgeries, doctor appointments, physical therapy, and the estimated costs of any future treatment you require. You can also seek compensation for lost income, which includes both wages already missed due to time off work as well as future lost earnings if your injuries affect your ability to work and earn a living as you once did. You also have the right to recover compensation for pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, and other intangible losses.
If you don’t understand all of your rights, you may accept a far smaller settlement offer than you deserve. Having the advice and assistance of a skilled accident lawyer can ensure that you fully exercise your rights and obtain the maximum amount possible based on your injuries and losses.
What to Do if You Think a Drunk Driver Hit You
An accident can jar anyone, so it is no surprise that many accident victims are in shock and fail to take steps to protect their legal rights. You, however, can take these steps if you believe the driver who caused your accident was drinking:
- Note whether the driver seems impaired. Signs of intoxication can include stumbling, slurred speech, bloodshot or red and watery eyes, the odor of alcohol, and more.
- Call the police after an accident—especially if you believe the other driver is drunk. Officers can come to the scene and perform field sobriety tests, breath tests, and use other tactics to determine whether a driver is impaired or over the legal limit. If so, they will likely arrest the driver, and prosecutors can initiate a criminal case, which can assist in your own financial recovery after the crash.
- If you require medical attention, this should be your first priority. If emergency medical technicians advise you to take an ambulance ride, do so to ensure that your physical condition is properly stabilized and monitored. Even if you do not need emergency transportation, getting your injuries diagnosed as soon as possible can help your physical recovery and increase any financial compensation to which you are entitled.
- If you are waiting at the scene of the crash, make sure you get information from any other motorists involved or witnesses who saw the collision and stopped. The more information you can get, the better—and this includes photos of the cars and of the road conditions at the time of the crash.
Finally, once you have spoken with police, received necessary medical attention, and recovered from the shock of the accident, never put off calling a qualified drunk driving accident attorney to learn about the best course of action in your situation.
A Personal Injury Claim vs. a Criminal DUI Charge
As mentioned above, if police decide that a driver is drunk, they will likely place the driver under arrest, and the driver may face charges of driving under the influence (DUI). Too many accident victims believe that once a criminal case begins, they do not have to take any independent action. However, criminal and civil drunk driving cases are different matters.
In a criminal case, the prosecutor is looking to impose penalties on the drunk driver such as a driver’s license suspension, fines, or even time in jail. Unfortunately, reimbursing any accident victims is often not a top priority in a criminal case. Even if a driver is convicted, chances are slim that a criminal court will award you any substantial compensation for your injury-related losses.
Instead, you will need to file your own claim seeking compensation, which can be through insurance companies or the civil courts, depending on the extent of your injuries and losses. This does not mean that the criminal case may not serve a role in your civil claim. In fact, if a DUI conviction is entered against the driver, your attorney can use that conviction to prove that the driver violated the law. This relieves much of your burden of proving negligence and liability in the accident, and the case will then focus on how much compensation you deserve.
A knowledgeable lawyer will know how to use the DUI conviction of another driver in your favor in a personal injury case. Even without a criminal conviction, lawyer Stewart Guss can gather and present evidence of the drunk driver’s liability. It is always worth discussing the possibility of financial recovery with our legal team.
Possible Third Party Liability
In some instances, the drunk driver is not the only party whom you can hold liable for your crash-related injuries. Texas laws can sometimes hold providers of alcohol responsible if they served alcohol to the drunk person. Such liable parties can include:
- Bars, restaurants, and other alcohol vendors that provide alcohol to children younger than 18
- Bars, restaurants, and other alcohol vendors that provide alcohol to people who are obviously so drunk that they present risks of harm to themselves and others
- Adults social hosts who provide alcohol to children younger than 18
In such cases, the injuries must have been a foreseeable result of the person’s intoxication. Such “dram shop” claims are not always available, but an attorney can identify when you can hold additional parties liable for your losses.
Why Choose Our Team?
- Stewart Guss and his team believe in integrity and family values.
- Our attorneys and staff will always be there for you.
- We know that in addition to your physical injuries, emotional symptoms can include rage, anxiety, and helplessness.
- With decades of combined experience, Stewart Guss and his team will work tirelessly to recover as much as possible on your drunk driving, DUI, or DWI injury claim.
- And you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case!
Choose an Attorney with Strength and Experience
You may also have additional claims against those who served the driver the alcohol under the Dram Shop law, or against those who entrusted the driver with the vehicle. Because of the complex, emotionally draining nature of drunk driving accident cases, you need a strong yet approachable attorney on your side.
If your life was damaged by a drunk driver, call the attorneys at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law and talk about it. Do not sign anything until you speak with us, because you risk losing some or all of the compensation to which you are entitled.
Stewart Guss and his team will do everything possible to obtain the best possible recovery on your claim, and we take pride in treating our clients like family. To schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, call today at (281) 664-6500 or send us an email through our online contact form. Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your recovery.
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