Even without the involvement of alcohol, car accidents can result in severe, long-lasting injuries and death. But crashes that highly impaired drivers cause can be even more catastrophic due to experiencing “substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing,” per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Have you been injured in a crash involving an intoxicated driver or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident? If so, the Dallas DWI car accident lawyers at Domingo Garcia Law Firm are here to help. We have the legal experience, knowledge, and resources that can help you pursue fair compensation to cover your financial and personal losses. You can learn more during a free consultation with us today.
How Our Dallas DWI Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
A DWI car accident injury insurance claim can require an immense amount of work. Numerous tasks must be completed, and it may be challenging to know where to start.
To secure compensation, you must prove the other driver’s liability and negligence, collect evidence, total your losses, build a claim, negotiate a settlement, and more. However, we can complete most tasks for you so that you can focus on recovering from your injury. For this reason, hiring a Dallas DWI car accident lawyer from our firm can be helpful during a critical time.
In general, our Dallas DWI car accident lawyer can:
- Offer legal expertise and guidance throughout your case
- Serve as your ally and confidante during a challenging time
- Act as your medical advocate so that you get the health care you need to heal
- Explain your rights and work to protect them
- Develop a strategy for your injury case
- Investigate your accident and gather evidence that supports your compensation claim
- Prove the other party’s liability and negligence
- Total your past, present, and future accident-related losses
- Communicate with the opposing party and/ or their lawyer on your behalf
- Negotiate a settlement with insurance companies on your behalf
- Represent you in court if you file a lawsuit
Accident Investigation and Evidence Collection for a DWI Collision in Dallas
Evidence gathered during the investigation must thoroughly support an injured party’s claim or lawsuit. Our attorney will know what evidence you need to prove who is liable and seek a fair settlement. In fact, a lawyer can collect evidence for you.
Vital evidence you may need in your personal injury case includes:
- Police reports
- Sobriety or drug tests
- Medical records
- Property damage replacement or repair assessments
- Photos of damaged property, e.g., your car and anything inside that was destroyed
- Pay stubs or income statements to prove lost income, benefits
- Photos documenting your injuries and their progression
- Pictures and video of the accident scene
- Surveillance video showing the accident
- Surveillance video where the other driver was coming from before the accident (e.g., a bar, restaurant, or an event)
- Witness testimony and affidavits
- Statements from expert witnesses, such as police officers, doctors, psychologists, life-care planners, accident reconstructionists, and more
Our Dallas DWI accident lawyer will do everything they can to help you recover fair compensation after a crash.
Recoverable Damages in a Dallas DWI Car Accident Personal Injury Case
When vehicles collide, the forces they generate can be tremendous, even at relatively low speeds. As such, they can be fatal or inflict massive damage on those who survive them.
If you were recently injured by an intoxicated driver in the Dallas area, you might find yourself suddenly saddled with losses. From medical bills and property damage to psychological trauma, permanent disability, and more, the true cost of car accident injuries can be steep. Fortunately, you have the legal right to seek compensation for all your losses against the liable party or parties.
Although DWI is an offense prosecutable in a criminal trial in Texas, you should pursue damages in a separate civil trial or an out-of-court settlement. Still, a criminal conviction against the other driver is strong evidence you can use in your case.
Recoverable damages in a Dallas DWI car accident injury insurance claim include the following:
Economic damages are losses with a monetary value that we can quantify and verify. Evidence can back these damages, such as bills, receipts, or pay stubs. Expert witness testimony can also support them (e.g., a doctor asserting that you will need ongoing medical care).
Economic damages you could receive include:
- Medical bills—ambulance fees, emergency care, surgeries, hospital stays, physical therapy, doctor visits, medications, medical equipment, in-home care, psychotherapy, etc.
- Lost income from missing work because of your injury
- Reduced earning capacity due to temporary or permanent disability
- Property damage repair and replacement costs
Not all losses that a car accident injury causes are easily calculable. Non-economic damages take a personal toll on those who experience them but don’t have a direct monetary value. However, our attorney can use legal formulas to evaluate your non-economic losses and derive an appropriate sum. Although money cannot replace wholeness and wellness, it can ease some daily burdens so that you can focus on what matters to you.
Non-economic damages could include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish and psychological trauma
- Permanent disability or impairment
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
Wrongful Death Damages in a Dallas DWI Car Accident
If your loved one suffered fatal injuries in an accident that an intoxicated driver caused, you may be entitled to pursue wrongful death damages.
In Texas, you generally have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit, per Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 71.001. Wrongful death damages include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The decedent’s lost income
- The decedent’s health care benefits
- The decedent’s remaining medical bills
- Loss of consortium or companionship
If your injury resulted from gross negligence or malice on the other party’s part, you might be entitled to a financial award for punitive damages. Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 41.001. These exemplary damages penalize a grossly negligent or malicious individual and deter possible future reoffending.
It’s important to note that punitive damages aren’t always available, as it depends on the case. However, for DWI car accident injury cases in Texas, the intoxicated driver could be found grossly negligent, and punitive damages may be warranted. Establishing gross negligence requires proving the other party knew their behavior would endanger others before they acted.
Compensation Options if a Drunk Driver Injured You in the Texas Area
DWI accident victims most often recover compensation through an auto insurance claim or a lawsuit. However, driving while intoxicated is a crime, and if the other driver is convicted, you might be able to recover victim restitution or compensation from the State of Texas.
Filing an Auto Insurance Claim
Typically, the first step in pursuing compensation is to file a claim with the other party’s insurance provider. The goal is to secure an insurance settlement that fairly compensates you for your losses. Unfortunately, many insurance companies are driven by profit, so they generally attempt to settle for the lowest amount possible. For this reason, their initial settlement offer will likely be far less than you deserve—and in most cases, you shouldn’t accept it.
Indeed, insurance companies will employ various tactics to minimize the amount they must pay you. Having an attorney from our team handle settlement negotiations could prevent the insurer from taking advantage of you.
After an insurer sends the initial offer, you and your attorney can respond with a counteroffer. Negotiation will continue back and forth until you and the insurer reach a settlement agreement. Your attorney will advise you when they believe the insurer’s offer is fair and acceptable.
Filing a DWI Accident Injury Lawsuit
Sometimes the insurer won’t agree to a fair settlement. If this happens, your next option is to file a lawsuit and sue the at-fault or liable party for compensation. If you or a loved one is a DWI accident victim, you have the right to stand up against the responsible driver in a civil court.
Although insurers typically try to avoid lawsuits because they are more time-consuming and costly than settling out of court, these cases go to trial in some instances.
If the other driver was already convicted of a DWI related to your accident, your chances of receiving awards might be higher—but this is not guaranteed. This is why a Dallas DWI attorney with Domingo Garcia might be an essential asset if you end up in a legal battle with an insurance company.
Victim Restitution and Victim Compensation
Another compensation option includes the financial restitution a DWI offender’s sentencing judge orders. The purpose of this payment is to pay you for your crime-related losses.
Also, victims of violent crimes might be eligible for the Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) Program to receive an amount of up to $50,000 for certain expenses. However, a victim who has received full restitution from a defendant may not receive duplicate payment from the program.
Liability in a Dallas DWI Accident Injury Case
To recover compensation for your losses, you must prove another party is responsible for the damages you suffered. Moreover, more than one party could be responsible. Possible liable parties in a Texas DWI case could include the driver, their insurer, or the business or person that sold or provided alcohol to the driver.
Texas Dram Shop and Social Host Liability
The Texas dram shop liability law (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2) states that a restaurant, bar, liquor store, or other alcohol sellers can be liable for your damages if they sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated driver who caused your injuries.
Similarly, a host of a social gathering may be liable if they provided alcohol to a minor under age 18 who then caused your injuries. Any legal action taken against these parties is separate from any insurance claim or lawsuit you bring against the driver.
You can seek compensation from the other driver or their insurance company if you can prove them liable—even if they haven’t yet been criminally convicted of DWI. Proving liability requires that you establish the following four essential legal elements:
- Duty of care: Drivers in Texas owe everyone who shares the road a duty of care to exert enough caution not to harm others. You must show that this legal duty applied to the other driver at the time of the accident.
- Breach of duty: You must also prove the other driver violated or “breached” this duty by acting negligently. In your case, this breach was the other driver’s choice to drive while intoxicated.
- Causation: You must demonstrate that the driver’s breach of duty (drunk driving) directly caused your injuries. You must also prove you would not have been injured but for the other driver’s intoxicated driving.
- Damages: You must also have evidence of quantifiable damages or losses you sustained related to your accident, such as medical bills and lost income.
Establishing these four elements is not always straightforward. Our lawyer handling DWI car accident cases in Dallas can identify and hold the other party accountable and prove how they were liable in your accident.
Intoxication Laws in Texas
Although Texas laws regarding driver intoxication don’t apply to you, we need them to establish negligence in your case. For example, a driver would be above the legal driving limit if they were subjected to a breathalyzer at the accident scene and had a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher.
In the U.S., standard drinks are defined as 12 oz. of beer at 5% ABV, 5 oz. of wine at 12% ABV, and 1.5 oz. of hard liquor at 40% ABV, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It’s possible that a driver could have a BAC above the legal limit after only about three or four drinks, depending on their sex, weight, and how much food they recently consumed.
There are other Texas laws regarding intoxication related to illicit or prescription drugs. Your lawyer can review any Texas laws that are relevant to your case.
How Alcohol Impairs Driving Ability
Alcohol (ethanol) has a profound effect on the body. As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol slows down the brain and body, impairing multiple bodily functions and abilities, such as the following:
Concentration: Alcohol makes it significantly harder to focus on tasks that require attention, particularly driving. Operating a motor vehicle may be second nature to sober individuals. Still, it becomes much more dangerous when concentration is impaired.
Judgment: It is widely known that alcohol reduces a person’s inhibitions. Reduced inhibition makes people more likely to engage in behaviors that can put themselves and others in danger. Along with this, alcohol impairs a person’s decision-making and planning. All these impairments of judgment can lead a person to drive while intoxicated.
Coordination: Alcohol can also significantly impact a person’s motor coordination. Reduced coordination can be disastrous when trying to steer a vehicle, maintain a steady speed, or brake safely.
Vision: The sedating effects of alcohol relaxes the muscles around the eyes. This makes it challenging to maintain focus and leads to blurry or double vision and poor depth perception. Likewise, alcohol makes it harder for a person to process information gained from their peripheral vision. This means an intoxicated driver is much less aware of their surroundings.
Reflexes: Alcohol also slows a person’s reflexes and reaction time considerably. With poor reflexes, intoxicated drivers have difficulty responding to situations like braking for pedestrians, other cars, or traffic lights.
Common DWI Car Accident Injuries
In 2021, Texas experienced 25,283 car accidents related to impaired driving, leading to 1,077 deaths, according to data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
During non-alcohol-related accidents, unimpaired drivers instinctively slam their brakes before impact, reducing the collision’s force. However, due to impaired cognition, motor skills, and reflexes, intoxicated drivers may not brake in time. For this reason and others, DWI car accidents tend to lead to more severe injuries, including:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a severe and often life-altering injury. TBIs occur when the head suffers a heavy enough blow to cause damage to the brain. Brain damage is usually permanent, and the effects are innumerable. Depending on what part of the brain is damaged, TBI can impair or alter an individual’s vision, hearing, speech, reason, memory, emotions, personality, and more.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) reduce or prevent brain signals from traveling throughout the body. Indeed, depending on the SCI’s location and severity, it can leave a person permanently paralyzed. Even less severe SCIs can leave a person with muscle weakness, chronic pain, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Internal Organ Injuries
A car accident’s impact can damage a person’s internal organs. Vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, etc., become life-threatening if they stop functioning. Damaged internal organs often require emergency surgery and a fast response time to save the victim’s life.
Limb and Soft Tissue Injuries
Car accidents commonly result in broken limbs. Broken limbs can often be fully healed, but some breaks are severe enough to leave a person permanently disabled. In the worst cases, the car accident itself may amputate a limb, or it may have to be removed to save the person’s life. Car accidents can also cause injury to soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Damaged soft tissues can lead to chronic pain, reduced functionality, and months or years of physical therapy.
Cars can catch on fire when they collide. Unfortunately, a person may become trapped in the vehicle and suffer burns. Treating severe burns often requires months of hospital stays and numerous reconstructive surgeries. Additionally, burns often leave individuals permanently scarred, disfigured, and traumatized.
Regardless of the nature or severity of your injuries suffered in a DWI accident, you are entitled to pursue compensation. Our personal injury attorneys serving Dallas can investigate your case and file an insurance claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
What to Do Immediately After a DWI Accident in Dallas
If you were just in a car accident in Dallas with an intoxicated driver, you should take four essential steps:
Call 911 and Go to the Hospital
Immediately call 911 for emergency medical personnel and police to be dispatched to the scene. This will accomplish two critical tasks: getting medical attention and notifying the police of the accident.
After the crash, it’s possible that you may not notice you are injured. Have an emergency room doctor or other health provider examine you, even if you don’t think you got hurt. Not only could this save your life, but it also establishes a medical record you can use later in a personal injury claim.
Also, the police need to know about the accident. If you never report the accident to law enforcement, pursuing compensation may be impossible because the insurer will have to take you at your word.
Gather Fresh Evidence From the Accident Scene
You, a friend, or someone helping you, such as a witness or bystander, should photograph the scene as soon as possible. Try to get multiple shots of both vehicles, the surrounding area, the cars’ placements on the roadway, skid marks, etc.
You should also take pictures of yourself and your injuries and keep your clothes and shoes as possible evidence.
Report the Accident to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
A Dallas motorist who commits a DWI could neglect to inform their insurance company of the accident. Don’t trust them or the authorities to do this—do it yourself. This will prevent an insurer from denying your claim because they were unaware of the accident and couldn’t investigate it themselves. Note that reporting an accident to an insurance company is not the same as filing a compensation claim.
Contact a DUI Accident Lawyer
If an intoxicated driver’s negligence caused your losses, you should consult with a Dallas DWI accident injury lawyer promptly. The sooner you have a lawyer standing with you, the better your chances are of recovering compensation and holding the other driver accountable.
Our Dallas DWI Accident Lawyer Can Help You – Call Us Today
If you’ve been severely injured in a car crash involving a drunk driver or lost a family member to a DWI-related accident in Dallas, Domingo Garcia can help. With 35 years of experience practicing law, Mr. Garcia has surrounded himself with a legal team committed to helping victims of drunk drivers recover compensation for their injuries and losses.
Our law firm will handle every aspect of your injury case from start to finish, from the initial investigation to compensation recovery. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation to learn more.