Houston Drunk Driving Accident Attorney
Every day individuals get into their cars and trucks after having a few too many alcohol beverages, or while intoxicated on drugs. In some instances, those people make it to their destination without any trouble. In other occasions, the police catch them and take them off of the road. However, sometimes, that does not happen until after they have caused a serious motor vehicle accident which results in serious injuries or death to innocent people.
In far too many cases, we have found that the criminal prosecutor (District Attorney) fails to explain to the innocent victims of DWI or DUI car wrecks the full extent of the law – INJURED PERSONS HAVE A RIGHT TO MONEY DAMAGES. We have found that many prosecutors have a large workload and simply don’t think to mention to the victims that in addition to the State’s criminal charges against the wrongdoer, the victim has rights in civil court for money damages. In most cases, the only way to receive full compensation from the drunk driver is to pursue a lawsuit against them in civil court.
A DWI or DUI car wreck case is not the same as a run of the mill car wreck case. Not all car wreck attorneys have the understanding of DWI law or how to prove up or maximize the value of a DWI car wreck case.
How Do DUIs Differ From Normal Car Collisions?
Houston car accident attorney Brian White has a thorough understanding of how best to prove up and maximize the value of a drunk driver car accident case. Specifically, we have an in-depth understanding of Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, the police DWI/DUI intake process, and other steps that happen after a DWI or DUI car wreck. We also understand that much of the evidence must be obtained QUICKLY.
Attorney Brian White’s understanding of how to handle DWI car wrecks helps to locate and obtain very valuable evidence that would otherwise never be found. We have handled many cases where our opposing attorneys have literally complimented us after the conclusion of the case for the thorough job that we did in finding damaging evidence and using the law to build the value of our client’s case.
DWI and DUI car wreck also differ from traditional car wrecks in that in many instances, both compensatory and punitive damages are available. This is because if a person is found to have committed gross negligence (which stems from their conscious disregard for the safety of others), then in addition to compensatory damages, the jury can award punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages which are supposed to compensate an injured person for their injuries and damages, punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer. Factors that can be considered in awarding punitive damages are what sum of money that the jury believes will prevent the wrongdoer, or other similar people, from doing it again in the future. If a jury wants to send a message in a community that drunk driving is not acceptable and will be severely punished, they will award a large sum for punitive damages. The award for punitive damages goes to the injured driver.
We try cases to juries! Above all, a DWI car wreck lawyer must be willing to try the case to a jury. It is likely that a favorable jury pool is available even in the most traditionally unfavorable counties. This is because everyone recognizes that drunk drivers pose a mortal danger to everyone.
If an insurance company or opposing attorney is not convinced that the case WILL proceed to trial unless a fair amount is paid, you can bet that they will try to save money. The ONLY way to maximize the value of the case is to prepare it for trial. This does not mean that every drunk driving car accident case does, in fact, lead to trial. However, if the personal injury lawyer has not fully prepared the case for trial, it is very difficult to obtain the maximum sum on the case.
Check out our interactive infographic about the costs associated with a DWI/DUI
What Should You Do After a Drunk Driving Accident?
If a drunk driver in Houston hits you, the first thing you should do is look after your physical health. Call 911 and request an ambulance. Limit your movements to only what is necessary to stay safe until help arrives. Get medical care immediately for the best chances of a full and fast recovery. In addition to seeking emergency care for your injuries, take the following steps after a drunk driving accident:
- Call the police. Call the police if you suspect the other driver of drunkenness, even if the crash was minor. Driving under the influence is against the law, and the police should know about the incident. Stay on the accident scene until the Harris County or Houston police arrive. Tell your side of the story so it gets into the official police report.
- Stay calm. Do not yell at the drunk driver, as this could lead to a dangerous road rage situation. Do not admit fault or apologize for the accident. Instead, calmly wait for police arrive without speaking much with the drunk driver. Only talk to the other driver to get his or her insurance information.
- Get the driver’s information. While you are waiting for police, get the other driver’s full name, insurance information, license plate number, and take a photograph of the driver’s license. Get the names and contact information of anyone else involved in the accident, including any eyewitnesses.
- Gather evidence. If you are able, pull out your phone and take a video of the other driver. Safely recording the drunk driver can give you evidence of his or her intoxication for your claim later. Ask the driver for permission to record the incident while you are getting his or her insurance information.
- Take photographs. Aside from video recording the driver, try to also get photographic evidence of the scene. Take photos of the wrecked vehicles, the location of the crash, any personal injuries, and other things at the scene that may serve as evidence. Make sure to get photos of the license plate and driver’s license of the other driver.
- Keep a record of medical care. Keep copies of all correspondence once you are at the hospital for your accident injuries. Request copies of your medical records, scans and X-rays, test results, treatment documents, prescriptions, and medical bills. Write down your doctor’s name and keep a record of all those involved in your recovery.
- Call the insurance company. Texas is a fault insurance state, meaning you will call the drunk driver’s insurance company to report the wreck and file a claim. Do this as soon as possible after the collision. Do not negotiate with insurance companies without a lawyer. Wait for settlement negotiations until after you have consulted with an attorney.
- Contact a Houston drunk driving accident lawyer. Call (713) 224-4878 as early as you can in the claims process to speak to an attorney about your case. A lawyer can review your accident, collect available evidence against the drunk driver, negotiate a fair settlement with an insurance company, and take your case to court if necessary for full compensation.
- Obtain copies of your police report. Prepare the documents and evidence relating to your accident prior to your free consultation with an attorney. Contact the Houston sheriff’s office to request your police report, or the Department of Motor Vehicles if the sheriff’s office cannot give you a copy.
- File a claim. Driving drunk is against the law in Texas. You could have a claim against the at-fault drunk driver for your damages. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a fair settlement amount or take your DUI case to trial, if necessary. A claim could give you the financial stability you need after a serious accident.
Knowing what to do after a drunk driving accident can give you direction. Taking the correct steps can set up your case for success during settlement negotiations or a jury trial. Call an attorney as soon as you possible if you need further guidance after a DUI collision. The DUI lawyers at Attorney Brian White and Associates can step into a case at any stage in the legal process.
What Can You Claim After a DUI Collision?
After a drunk driving accident, you may have grounds to file a claim for all your related damages. This may include damage to your vehicle, personal injuries, medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Your first outlet for recovery will likely be an insurance claim. You can request reimbursement for your medical bills, property damages, and lost wages through a Texas auto insurance claim. The amount you receive will depend on the drunk driver’s coverage and the nature of the settlement agreement.
Since many DUI accidents cause serious and life-changing injuries, plaintiffs may file personal injury lawsuits against the drunk driver rather than settling with the insurance company. A personal injury lawsuit could result in non-economic damages, including emotional distress, physical pain, mental anguish, and lost quality of life. A lawsuit could also lead to additional punitive damages for the defendant’s gross misconduct. Your Houston DUI accident lawyer can help you calculate the value of your claim and take the best course of action for fair compensation.
Forms of Impairment Other Than Alcohol
A Houston DUI accident does not only pertain to a drunk driving crash. It can also refer to driving under the influence of drugs or other substances that could impair the driver. It is illegal in Texas to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated from any substance that negatively affects the driving ability. These substances can include:
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Marijuana, hash, or cannabis concentrates
- Heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs
Many drivers do not realize they could receive a DUI charge for driving after taking certain prescription medications. Yet many legal drugs make drivers drowsy, dizzy, nauseated, confused, or otherwise unfit to safely operate a vehicle. You could have a personal injury case against a driver for DUI of any substance – alcohol or drugs.
Who Else Could Be Liable for a DUI Crash?
The drunk driver might not be the only party potentially liable for your damages. In Texas, dram shop laws hold that the person or entity responsible for furnishing the drunk driver with alcohol before the crash could also share liability. You may have grounds to bring a claim against the bar, restaurant, dram shop, or social host who gave the drunk driver the alcohol in certain situations.
If the drunk driver who hit you was under the age of 18, for example, the vendor could be liable for selling a minor the alcohol. A vendor could also be liable if he or she furnished the individual with alcohol when the customer was already obviously intoxicated and posed a risk to the safety of self or others. To hold a dram shop liable for a DUI accident, you must have proof that one of these elements existed, and that the driver’s drunkenness was a foreseeable cause of the injuries you suffered. Speak to a Houston dram shop lawyer to learn more.
Dram shop laws do not only apply to businesses. Social hosts may also share liability for DUI accidents if the host was over the age of 21 and furnished alcohol to a minor under the age of 18. These laws will only apply if the host is not the minor’s spouse or legal guardian and if the host knew or should have known the person was a minor. As the victim of a drunk driving accident in Houston, you may have grounds to file a claim against the drunk driver and a third party.
Brian White | Houston DWI Accident Lawyer
Attorney Brian White enjoys trying intoxicated driver cases. Having the opportunity to both seek justice for an injured client and make the roads a little safer for everyone else is a good thing. Moreover, due to the “juicy” evidence that is usually obtained (sobriety test videos, witness statements, etc.) from DWI car accidents, trials can be most entertaining for the winning client and lawyer, the judge and especially the jury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident with an intoxicated person, call us today! (713) 224-4878.