A 2015 report on the website 247wallst.com named Austin the drunkest city in Texas, with the state’s highest excessive drinking rate. It’s not surprising that, in 2013, over a third of the motor vehicle crashes in Nueces County were alcohol-related. In 2013, there were 12 fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents in the county.
Unfortunately, it is a fact of modern life that people drive after they have been drinking, creating a danger of injuring or killing another person in a traffic accident.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, what can you do?
Beyond the criminal liability for drunk driving, injured people are given remedies under Texas civil law as well. This means that an injured person may bring a claim or file a lawsuit against a drunk driver and receive financial assistance for the accident from the driver or his insurance company.
In a personal injury suit, Texas allows recovery for, among other things, past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, impairment and disfigurement.
Texas also allows recovery of punitive damages, which is an amount of money intended to punish the drunk driver and discourage drunk driving in the future.
If the drunk driver has no insurance, or a minimal amount of insurance, you may also have a claim through your own motor vehicle insurance policy under what is known as uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This means that your insurance will pay for injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured drunk driver. UM/UIM coverage can also assist you if you were a passenger injured in the accident or even if you were a pedestrian injured by a drunk driver. UM/UIM coverage, however, is not mandatory, and you may not have it under your policy. It is advisable to check with your agent or an attorney to see what UM/UIM coverage you have under your policy. If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, you should get it. If your UM/UIM coverage is minimal, you should increase it as much as possible.
You may also have a Dram Shop claim. Under Texas law, a drunk driving accident victim may, under certain circumstances, recover damages against a bar, restaurant, liquor store or other business that sold alcohol to the drunk driver. This is called a Dram Shop claim.
This article is intended to give only a brief overview of possible civil law options available to victims of a drunk driving accident. These types of cases can be complicated. Insurance companies don’t want to pay any more money than they absolutely must and will have their own attorneys and other experts to help them. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you should contact a qualified and experienced Austin Car Accident Lawyer to evaluate your situation and assist you in getting all that you deserve.
A Austin Car Accident Lawyer will be able to analyze your claim and will know what steps you need to take. An experienced attorney will also know be able to explain what options you may have in terms of a UM/UIM or Dram Shop claim.
Finally, there are time limits involved, no matter what sort of claim you make. If you fail to properly present your claim by the applicable deadline, your claim may be lost forever. A Austin Car Accident Lawyer will know what the time limits are and how to properly present your claim.