What to Do If You Are Hit By a Drunk Driver
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 205,498 people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020. If you or a loved one has been hit by a drunk driver, it is a harrowing experience. There can be medical bills and emotional trauma. I know how difficult it can be and why you want to know what to expect in this situation.
If you reside in Houston, Texas, or the surrounding areas of Webster, South Houston, or Pasadena, I am here to help you understand your options and what you can expect moving forward.
Contact me — Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law — to schedule a consultation to discuss your accident and plan a sound strategy.
Steps to Take If You Are Hit By a Drunk Driver
In the moment, a lot can be happening. The entire situation can be disorienting. It may be difficult to know what to do, but it is a crucial element to your potential legal case.
When you have been hit by a drunk driver, there are a few steps you should take.
- Call the police — You want to make sure that they arrive as soon as they can.
- Make sure you are okay — When you have been hit by a drunk driver, you may sustain significant injuries. Make sure you are okay before you do anything else. It may be necessary to seek medical attention.
- Observe the driver — Once you know you are okay, you need to check the driver. Look for signs that they are drunk. Check for alcohol bottles in the car or how the driver is acting.
- Tell the police — Once the police arrive, tell them that the driver is drunk.
When you have been involved in a car accident, you should also contact an attorney to help with your personal injury lawsuit, should you decide to pursue that route.
Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents in Texas
You may wonder who holds the liability for a drunk driving accident in Texas. When you have been hit, you want to make sure that those responsible are held accountable.
The Texas Dram Shop Law can potentially find those who sold alcohol to the driver alcohol. The law itself has two parts:
- The person who sold the alcohol could see that the buyer was clearly intoxicated and a potential danger to themselves and others.
- The intoxication of the person caused the damages and injuries.
When these two elements are present, the vendor may be held responsible.
Moreover, negligence is easier to prove in a case like this because it is a criminal offense. Since drunk driving is considered “negligence per se,” if you have been hit by a drunk driver you only have to prove that their drunk driving caused you harm.
Damages for Injuries or Wrongful Death
Punitive damages may also be available for drunk driving accidents in Texas. This is true for both injuries and wrongful death. Some of the damages you may seek in a car wreck include medical bills, wages lost because you could not work, and compensation for damages or lost property.
There are also other penalties those held liable for injuries or wrongful death can face. These include:
- Jail time — This can range from three days to 180 — if it is their first offense.
- Fines — These fines, for a first offense, can reach $2,000.
- License Suspension — For a first offense, this can be up to one year.
With each subsequent offense, the penalties increase. These severe penalties exist to deter people from drunk driving.
Experienced Texas Personal Injury Attorney
Whether you need to file a lawsuit because of a wrongful death associated with a car crash, or you have been hit by a drunk driver yourself, it is important to know what to expect and what compensation you can seek.
It is also important to hire an experienced Texas personal injury attorney. Whether you live in Houston, Texas, or the nearby communities of South Houston, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Friendswood, League City, Alvin, Dickinson, Bacliff, Kemah, Seabrook, or Santa Fe, I am ready to serve you. Contact me — Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law— today.