In recent years, drinking and driving accidents have killed far too many. In the United States, 13,384 people were killed due to drunk driving in 2021 alone. This averages somewhere close to 160 fatalities a week due to drinking and driving.
These numbers do not even take into account the number of people who are injured. Lives are ended, and lives are altered every single day because someone chose to drive while impaired. Compensation may be available if you or someone you care for has been hit by a drunk driver.
Your Legal Options After Being Injured in An Accident with A Drunk Driver
Texas and New Mexico are ranked in the top 10 most dangerous states in the U.S. for drunk driving. The chances of being in an accident with an intoxicated driver are higher in these two states than in many other places. It is important to understand what your options are if you are injured in a drunk driving accident.
Following a collision with a drunk driver, you may be able to pursue financial compensation. Some ways to approach that include:
Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company
In some cases, your own insurance company is your best bet for settling a claim if an impaired driver has injured you. Texas and New Mexico are fault-based states. This means that the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages caused by a wreck.
Your insurance would also be the responsible party if the drunk driver who hit you was underinsured or uninsured and you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).
Agreeing to a Settlement to Cover Your Damages
When hit by a drunk driver, settling out of court to recover the damages to which you are entitled could help you avoid the expense and aggravation of a lawsuit. The drunk driver could potentially offer you a one-time payment in exchange for your giving up the right to any future claims.
Your personal injury attorney will use their superior negotiation skills to ensure the settlement is fair. Accepting the first offer the intoxicated driver offers is rarely the way to receive the maximum settlement amount. By settling, you are forfeiting the opportunity to sue later, so make sure you have legal representation that ensures losses are totally covered.
Taking The Intoxicated Driver to Court
When settling out-of-court does not prove to be possible, filing a personal injury lawsuit and presenting your evidence to the court is the next logical step. By effectively proving that the driver who caused your injuries was intoxicated and caused the crash, they will be liable for the damages you sustained. You can ask for damages to “make you whole” again after the accident by proving up the injuries and financial losses you incurred.
The impaired driver’s insurance company is only able to pay you an amount within the policy’s limits. Money that you might be awarded that is a larger sum than that amount would have to be collected from the driver. This is a complex, challenging process.
Using Dram Shop Laws to Sue Additional Liable Parties
Dram shop laws are a set of laws that hold businesses that serve too much alcohol to their customers accountable for resulting injured or damages patrons cause to others. Laws like these apply to establishments that serve alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, clubs, and other businesses that serve drinks. Legally, they are held responsible for the actions of their customers if they serve someone who is noticeably intoxicated or a minor child.
In Texas, dram shop laws give injury victims the right to sue the business that served the person responsible for their injuries. If a person loses their normal physical or mental capabilities because of the consumption of alcohol, then serving them is illegal. The victim must be able to prove that the person was overserved and that the accident happened because of this.
New Mexico has a slightly different set of laws. If a person is clearly intoxicated or is a minor, the individual who was injured can sue the shop. The plaintiff has to demonstrate that the bar or restaurant’s conduct showed reckless disregard for the safety of the community by serving alcohol to a person who was very clearly already inebriated.
A qualified DUI accident attorney can help you determine which avenue is best for you to pursue.
The Effect of DUI Charges on a Civil Claim for Damages
Drinking and driving is a crime. However, a criminal DUI case is completely different from a civil lawsuit brought against a drunk driver. In a civil case, there is a different burden of proof applied. Even if the driver was not convicted of drunk driving, if you can show that they were negligent and this negligence caused them to hit you, they can be found responsible for paying for your damages.
Compensation Available After Being Hit by a Drunk Driver
If you have been injured in an accident because you were hit by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to damages. Compensation for your injuries and the financial losses you sustained may include:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Depression and anxiety disorders
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of educational opportunities
- Property damage
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Wrongful death
Having a personal injury attorney on hand to represent you can ensure you are awarded the maximum damages possible due to the life-altering damages you sustained because of the impaired driver’s negligence.
Let Us Help You Obtain the Damages You Are Entitled to Receive
If you find yourself asking, “I was hit by a drunk driver, now what?” Reach out to Farah Law for answers to that question. We will investigate your case and help you determine the best way to pursue maximum financial compensation. Our compassionate car accident attorneys will stand beside you throughout the proceedings so that your rights are protected and the case is resolved with the maximum value possible.