Accidents that drunk drivers in the Fort Worth, Texas, area cause often come at a considerable cost to those who suffer injuries. Although nothing can ever entirely negate the trauma of an accident or the pain of injuries, survivors could seek financial awards to cover their injury-related expenses. Additionally, those who have lost a loved one in a DWI (driving while intoxicated) accident may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages for their losses from the at-fault party.
If you are recovering from an alcohol-related crash, the Fort Worth DWI car accident lawyers at the Domingo Garcia Law Office could help. We will handle every aspect of your case, allowing you to concentrate on healing and restoring your life. We will walk you through the complex legal process while fighting for your right to pursue and secure fair compensation. You can learn more about your options during a free consultation today.
What Can Our Fort Worth DWI Car Accident Lawyer Do?
Our DWI Texas injury attorney can identify the at-fault party, prove how their negligence caused your injuries and losses, and recover compensation for you. Our team can also:
- Thoroughly investigate your accident and gather case-supporting evidence
- Take photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and property damage
- Collect and maintain documentation, such as medical bills and records
- Talk to witnesses and collect video surveillance from traffic cameras or surveillance cameras from nearby homes or businesses
- Identify and document all damages and evaluate their worth
- Consult with expert witnesses, such as medical specialists and accident reconstruction experts, who can offer a professional opinion about your injuries and damages
- Communicate and negotiate with the other driver’s insurer
- Represent you at trial if we cannot reach a settlement
The following provides more detail on some of the most critical duties of our DWI car accident attorney:
Communicating and Negotiating With the Other Driver’s Insurer
Our Fort Worth lawyer handling your DWI case will work with the insurance claims adjuster. However, when you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, expect to initially receive a settlement offer less than what your claim is worth.
An injury attorney can negotiate on your behalf in accident cases with extenuating circumstances, such as a DWI. In addition, insurers have teams of legal professionals working for them, so you could benefit from having an attorney who looks out for your interests.
Obtaining Evidence of Liability
Our attorney could visit the accident scene in Fort Worth and collect any evidence, including photos, that you might have missed or could not obtain yourself. They can also collect police reports and traffic citations and interview law enforcement, first responders, and crash witnesses, including passengers.
Our legal professional handling your case can collect as much information as possible before sifting through it to find critical pieces of supporting evidence that can help your case.
Obtaining Medical Evidence for Damages
To pursue an insurance or personal injury lawsuit, you must prove the nature and severity of your injuries and their related expenses. You can do this using official medical records, bills, and other evidence. An attorney can also use this information to estimate future costs associated with long-term care or permanent disability.
Although medical records are technically yours and you have a right to obtain them, doing so is not always easy. Moreover, sending medical records to patients and lawyers is not a health care provider’s priority.
For example, large hospitals can have certain protocols for requests, and failure to follow them or omitting information may result in a denial. Although this is reversible and may seem insignificant, the process can be time-consuming and delay your ability to prove your injuries and related financial losses promptly.
Available Compensation in a Fort Worth DWI Car Accident Case
The medical treatment for injuries sustained in a car accident can be costly. In addition, car crashes can result in permanent disability and emotional trauma that lasts a lifetime. However, you shouldn’t have to pay the costs of an accident that wasn’t your fault. Under Texas law, you can seek compensation from those responsible.
If the driver’s insurer offers a fair settlement or the court rules in your favor, you may be compensated for your injured-related losses. Damages you could recover in a Fort Worth DWI car accident injury case include:
These losses are typically easy to calculate. Evidence that supports these damages includes bills, income statements, receipts, or even expert witness testimony.
Economic damages you could recover include:
- Medical expenses, e.g., ambulance, emergency care, hospital stays, surgery, physical rehabilitation, doctor’s visits, medical devices and equipment, in-home care, psychiatric care, etc.
- Estimated future medical costs for severe injuries or disabilities requiring extended recovery time or ongoing treatment
- Lost income and benefits due to missing work while recovering from your injury
- Reduced future earning ability due to disability caused by your injury
- Property damage, e.g., your vehicle and anything in it that was damaged or destroyed
Non-economic damages don’t have an easily calculable financial cost. Instead, our attorney will assess each loss and determine its value.
If you have suffered these damages, you feel firsthand the personal toll they can take on your quality of life. As such, monetary compensation is always an imperfect substitute. But it can relieve stress in other areas of your life and give you some peace of mind.
Non-economic damages you could recover are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish and trauma
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Long-term or permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
Wrongful Death Damages in Texas
Loved ones of someone who suffered fatal injuries in a DWI accident could pursue wrongful death damages from the liable party if they qualify under state law. To do so, you must be the decedent’s legal spouse, surviving child, parents, or estate representative. We can explain how wrongful death actions work in Texas during your free consultation.
In Texas, the decedent’s family has two years per Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 71.001 from the time of the accident to seek these damages, which include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost income and work-related benefits (e.g., health insurance)
- The decedent’s pain and suffering
- The decedent’s outstanding medical bills
- Outstanding medical bills
- Loss of support and care
- Loss of consortium
- Lost inheritance
In cases involving gross negligence or malice on the part of a driver, a court could award punitive damages (Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 41.001).
These damages are not compensatory; they penalize the at-fault party and aim to discourage future wrongdoing. If the driver was charged with or convicted of a DWI in the state, this is an example of egregious conduct that could support a gross negligence claim.
Violent crime survivors might qualify to receive up to $50,000 for certain expenses from the Crime Victims Compensation Program. Additional compensation may be available for victims if their catastrophic injuries resulted in total and permanent disability and led to “extraordinary pecuniary losses.” The maximum compensation that can be awarded for these losses is $75,000.
An injury survivor who has received full restitution from their offender may not receive duplicate payment for victims’ compensation.
Liable Parties in a Fort Worth DWI Car Accident Lawyer
If a drunk driver injured you, you would most likely pursue compensation from the driver’s insurance company. However, there could be parties other than the driver who are liable for the damages you’ve incurred.
For example, state law (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2) mandates that any person or establishment that sells alcohol to a potential driver who appears intoxicated can be liable for an accident and injuries they cause.
Similarly, a social host could be responsible if they provided alcohol to a person under age 18 who caused your accident. Also, a commercial driver’s employer and their insurer might be liable if they were intoxicated on the clock.
Surviving Passengers of Drunk Drivers
Surviving passengers who occupy a vehicle driven by an intoxicated person can sue the driver for accident-related injuries. They may be entitled to receive certain damages for medical costs and other financial losses associated with their injuries. That said, a survivor’s compensation may be reduced based on their decision to ride with a drunk driver.
Proving Negligence in a Fort Worth DWI Car Accident
To be awarded compensation for your losses, you must prove that another party acted negligently when they injured you. In particular, our Fort Worth DWI attorney must prove the following elements to prove that negligence took place:
- Duty of care: Every driver has a legal obligation to drive with reasonable caution to avoid harming others on the road. Since the intoxicated driver was on the road when you got into an accident with them, they had this duty of care to you.
- Breach of duty: Next, you must prove the other driver violated their duty. In your case, their choice to get behind the wheel while intoxicated constitutes a breach of duty of care.
- Causation: You must then show your injuries were proximately caused by their breach of duty. In other words, you wouldn’t have been injured if the other party hadn’t breached their duty. For example, you must show how their intoxication impaired their driving and caused the accident that injured you.
- Damages: Finally, you must prove your injuries led to compensatory losses, such as your medical expenses, rehabilitation care, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
A Fort Worth DWI car accident attorney on our team can build your case with evidence so that you can prove the person who caused your accident demonstrated negligence that harmed you.
Under Texas law, you generally have two years to file your lawsuit for damages, so we encourage you to reach out to us as soon as possible to learn about your legal options and next steps.
Legal Specifics of DWIs
Most of the time, DWIs are related to alcohol use and involve a driver having a BAC of .08% or above. However, Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2)(a) states that the definition of criminal intoxication is broader and includes “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”
It’s important to note that although a 0.08% BAC is legal intoxication, a person with a lower BAC can still be charged with DWI in Texas. If the arresting officer has reason to believe the driver’s level of intoxication impaired their driving, a DWI charge could still apply.
If law enforcement (1) administers a breathalyzer at the scene or (2) accesses blood test results from a hospital later, a finding of legal intoxication is crucial evidence for your claim. In addition, a police officer can testify as an expert witness on your behalf that the driver was visibly intoxicated and caused your accident as a result.
At the accident scene, law enforcement will look for signs of driver intoxication, including the following:
- Reckless or erratic driving
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot, red, or glossy eyes
- Impaired motor skills and balance
- The smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath
- Evidence of drug use, such as visible paraphernalia in the vehicle
- Inability to pass a field sobriety exam
- Failing to pass a breathalyzer test
If you’ve been injured in a DWI-related accident, we urge you to consult with an attorney from our team as soon as possible who can protect your rights. Domingo Garcia can serve as a liaison between you and the police and the district attorney’s office while the driver’s criminal case is prosecuted.
How Alcohol Affects Drivers
Alcohol intoxication can impair a person’s driving abilities in several ways. You can expect the driver who caused your accident was experiencing at least some of the following effects:
- Delayed reaction time
- Impaired vision, including double vision
- Poor hand, eye, and foot coordination
- Inability to judge locations of road objects, such as other vehicles, center lines, or traffic signs
- Decreased ability to focus on objects
- Drowsiness, falling asleep at the wheel due to alcohol’s depressant effects
- Reduced inhibition resulting in impulsivity and recklessness
Signs of Impaired Driving
When you’ve been in a car accident, you might not be able to reflect on the events that occurred before the crash. However, if you can remember any details, especially if witnesses can corroborate them, they can be included in a sworn statement or testimony. Any information you can offer may be helpful for your case. For example, you may have noticed the driver doing the following:
- Rapidly accelerating or decelerating
- Hugging close to or drifting over the center median
- Stopping with no apparent cause
- Driving extremely fast or slowly
- Stopping for a prolonged period at stop signs or blinking red lights
- Ignoring traffic lights and signs
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Driving aggressively or erratically
Our Fort Worth DWI car accident attorneys want to ensure the person who caused your injuries is held accountable and that you are fairly compensated for your losses. We will review your accident to see if any of the driving behaviors listed above occurred.
Common Types of DWI Accidents in the Fort Worth Area
Drunk drivers cause several types of severe traffic accidents, including the following:
Head-on collisions can occur when a drunk driver passes carelessly or drifts over the center line into oncoming traffic.These crashes can be catastrophic even at low speeds due to the competing forces involved in an impact. Drivers and passengers may not survive, and those who do often suffer traumatic injuries.
Any time a driver is so intoxicated they have difficulty following road signs or determining which direction to go, the situation can tragically end in a head-on collision.
Rear-End Accidents and Distracted Driving
Rear-end accidents happen when the front of one car collides with the back end of another. These accidents are common among intoxicated drivers due to diminished reaction time, depth perception, and spatial awareness.
Distracted driving can cause various accidents, but it is most associated with rear-end collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 30% of all car accidents are rear-end collisions, with 87% involving some element of distracted driving.
Intoxicated drivers may be more likely to become distracted because alcohol interferes with a person’s concentration and decision-making abilities. Alcohol also reduces inhibitions, so impaired drivers can be prone to overconfidence and carelessness. If their attention is on their cell phone, passengers, or the radio, last-minute braking may not be enough to stop them from crashing into the back of a vehicle.
Rollover accidents occur when a driver attempts to turn their vehicle too sharply. Intoxicated drivers tend to react slowly, drive at excessive speeds, and steer poorly. These actions can cause their vehicle to tip and roll over when turning.
Rollovers are much more common for top-heavy commercial trucks, semi-trucks, delivery trucks, moving vans, and SUVs. Any standard car or truck and its occupants in the path of a large rolling vehicle can be completely crushed.
Also known as drowsy driving, these accidents happen when a person is so exhausted they lose focus or fall asleep and crash. Alcohol and other drugs, such as opioids or sedatives, can cause the driver to become excessively sleepy. For this reason, many DWI accidents have drowsy driving as a contributing factor.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Intoxicated drivers are more active at night because that’s when most drinking occurs. When combined with impaired vision due to alcohol, they may be more likely to hit a pedestrian or bicyclist on the roadside. When a car strikes an unprotected pedestrian or person on a bike, severe, life-threatening, or fatal injuries may be unavoidable.
A Fort Worth DWI car accident attorney can help you recover your losses regardless of the type of accident or its severity.
Common Injuries After a DWI Car Accident
In 2021, 25,283 car accidents related to impaired driving were reported in Texas, resulting in more than 1,000 deaths, per the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Also, there were 8,374 suspected mild-severe injuries and another 8,355 potential and unknown injuries.
Severe injuries commonly suffered in DWI accidents include the following:
The forces generated when two vehicles collide can easily break or crush one or more bones. Although many broken bones can fully heal, some breaks can be severe enough to leave a person permanently disabled.
The loss of a limb or a digit in a car crash is called a “traumatic amputation.” Limb loss is less common than many other car accident-related injuries, but when it occurs, it may result in lifelong disability for accident survivors. Unfortunately, an amputation caused by a car accident can quickly be complicated by profuse bleeding, shock, infection, and other life-threatening conditions.
In some cases, severed limbs or digits can be reattached. Surgical amputation is required in some circumstances for a broken or shattered limb after an accident.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can occur if a person’s head strikes another object during an accident, such as the car’s roof or windshield. Unfortunately, TBIs can leave a person with lifelong cognitive and functional deficits. TBIs can alter a person’s vision, hearing, motor function, reasoning, memory, personality, and more.
Spinal Cord Injuries
As with TBIs, spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can completely change a person’s life. SCIs can result in effects from chronic weakness or pain to complete paralysis, depending on the location and severity of the damage.
Internal Organ Injuries
A car accident can damage internal organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, and intestines. When one of these vital organs ceases to function, it can be life-threatening. If you’ve been in a car accident and have no apparent injuries, you should still get checked out to ensure you have no internal injuries.
When cars collide, the gas in the gas tank can sometimes catch fire. Individuals unfortunate enough to be stuck in the vehicle may suffer burns. Burns can be highly disfiguring and take months of hospital time and numerous surgeries to treat. Moreover, burns can also become infected.
Mental Health Issues
The injuries from car accidents aren’t always physical. Going through a traumatic situation can profoundly affect a person’s mental health. It is not uncommon for car crash survivors to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, panic attacks, or depression.
Call Us Today About Legal Help With a Fort Worth DWI Accident Today
If you suffered injuries in a DWI-related car accident in the Fort Worth area, you have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit separate from criminal charges against the driver. As a result, you could secure a full economic recovery for the harm you were caused, including your financial, emotional, and personal losses.
Contact Domingo Garcia today for a free case consultation and to learn more about your options for financial recovery. We will pursue the fair compensation available in your case and advocate for your interests and protect your rights every step of the way.