DWI Accident/Drunk Driver Accidents
DWI accidents are serious problems. There’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the terms “DWI” and “DUI.” The two terms are not interchangeable, and they shouldn’t be confused. The difference between DWI and DUI, under Texas law, pivots on the age of the driver.
If a person over the age of 21 is operating a motor vehicle and has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, he or she is legally intoxicated and can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).
If a driver is under the age of 21, he or she is not permitted to have any detectable amount of alcohol at all in their blood. An individual under the age of 21, who has alcohol in their system, will be charged with DUI.
National and State Numbers
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 people will die in a DWI accident in the United States in 2018. That translates into about 28 deaths every day or one death about every 51 minutes. More than 250,000 other people will be injured in a drunk driving car accident every year.
In 2016, 28 percent of all car accident fatalities involved drivers who were impaired by alcohol.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 987 people died in Texas motor vehicle crashes when a driver was under the influence of alcohol in 2016. That number represents 26 percent of the total of all people killed in Texas motor vehicle crashes. More than 8,000 people suffered injuries in those crashes.
Alcohol Slows Everything Down
Alcohol operates as a depressant on the brain and central nervous system. It interferes with a person’s ability to process information, and it also affects their coordination.
.05 Blood Alcohol Content Level
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a person with a .05 blood alcohol content will experience impaired judgment, reduced coordination, difficulty steering a vehicle and a reduced ability to respond to emergency situations.
.08 Blood Alcohol Content Level
When a person’s blood alcohol content level is .08, that person experiences poor muscle coordination, impaired judgment, self-control, and reasoning. Short-term memory, visual perception and the ability to process information also become impaired.
.10 Blood Alcohol Content Level
The NHTSA reports that at a driver with a .10 blood alcohol content level will experience a clinically significant deterioration in reaction time and control, along with slurred speech, poor coordination and slow information processing.
The more alcohol that’s ingested, the greater the deterioration is in these skills, and the greater the chances are of being involved in a DWI accident.
Negligence Per Se
If the person who causes your DWI accident is charged with DWI, your claim for damages is allowed to be based on the legal theory of negligence per se. Negligence per se is different than proving the more difficult elements of regular negligence. We will only need to help you prove that:
- A statute, ordinance or regulation was violated by the driver
- The violation was the proximate cause of your injuries
- The injuries were the result of the violation of the type of behavior that the statute, ordinance or regulation was intended to protect against
Victims who have been injured as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else in a drunk driver car accident have the right to compensation for the damages that they’ve suffered. Pursuant to Texas law, those damages might generally consist of:
Types of Compensation That Can Be Awarded
- Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be received in the future
- Past lost earnings and earnings reasonably expected to be lost in the future
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Funeral and burial bills in the event of a wrongful death
Texas accident victims are finding it more difficult to be fairly compensated for their injuries due to tort reform pressure on the legislature in Austin. One area where victims are finding some sympathy from juries is when they’re injured by drunk drivers. If the accident victim can successfully show that the defendant was driving while intoxicated, damages awards are often higher than in cases when the at-fault driver wasn’t drunk.
No Criminal DWI or DUI Conviction is Required
If a driver is arrested and charged criminally in a DWI accident, a civil lawsuit seeking damages for personal injuries can be brought in the civil courts at the same time that the other driver is being prosecuted in the criminal courts.
A defendant in a criminal case must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, he or she need only be found liable by a preponderance of the evidence. That means that the case against the defendant is more likely to be true than not true. It also means that a defendant can be found not guilty in a criminal DWI case, but guilty in a civil DWI accident case due to the lower burden of proof.
Criminal Evidence vs. Civil Evidence
Certain evidence from the criminal case tending to prove intoxication might also be admissible in the civil DWI accident case. The Allbee Law Firm will move quickly to obtain all evidence, records, reports and other similar pieces of evidence from the criminal case that can plausibly be used in your civil DWI accident case.
A claimant in a civil DWI accident case can also seek punitive damages from an intoxicated driver. Punitive damages aren’t compensatory in nature. They can be payable on top of any compensatory damages award. Punitive damages are intended to punish the intolerable gross negligence of a drunk driver for injuring an innocent victim in what might otherwise have been a perfectly preventable tragedy.
Texas defines gross negligence as something far beyond ordinary negligence that might be involved in a scenario like following a vehicle too closely and then rear-ending it. Gross negligence involves a conscious and extreme disregard for a standard of care that places others at a significant risk of harm. Courts in Texas are in agreement that drunk driving might be determined to be gross negligence. It’s a fact question for a jury. On that basis, Texas juries often pay higher punitive damages awards in drunk driver car accident cases.
Don’t Give any Type of a Statement
If you have been injured in a DWI accident, the insurer of the drunk driver knows that it’s facing significant financial exposure. We encourage you to talk with “Big Mike” Allbee before you give the opposing insurance company any information at all. The law doesn’t require you to cooperate with the opposing insurance company. Information that it obtains from you might be used against you in the future. This even applies to information you may provide in a recorded statement. Even though it might be clear to you that the other driver is at fault, many insurance companies will try to shift at least some of the blame to you. Transferring blame to you allows insurance companies to pay you less compensation than you should receive. Our goal is to help you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
We Know the Road to Take
At the Allbee Law Firm, we will help you start heading in the right direction right away. We will help you pursue maximum compensation for your DWI accident injuries that were caused by a drunk driver or anybody else who was careless and negligent while operating a motor vehicle. Mike is pleased to meet with you at no charge at all to discuss your accident and completely answer your questions. If the Allbee Law Firm is retained to represent you or your loved one, we’ll carefully manage every detail of your claim. No legal fees are even due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.
Mike Allbee realizes that these are financially and emotionally distressing times for you and your family. We want to hold the person who caused your DWI accident and injuries accountable while getting you the highest amount of compensation that you deserve. The Allbee Law Firm is an Arlington personal injury law firm that also has offices in Dallas and Fort Worth. Don’t help the opposing insurer put together its case against you by cooperating with it. Protect and assert your rights by contacting us right away by phone or email after being injured in a drunk driver car accident.