Drunk driving is a serious problem in Texas. If you or your loved one was a victim of a drunk driver’s gross negligence in getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated, you need a serious drunk driving accident lawyer. As the presenting sponsor of the Harris and Montgomery County Walk Like MADD since 2020, Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., is proud to stand up for victims of drunk driving accidents across the United States. When we take your case we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no upfront costs to you, no charge for the consultation, we front the litigation expenses and we only get paid our attorney’s fees and reimbursed for our expenses if we make a recovery for you. We take on the risk. Sound serious enough to you? Call us for your free consultation today at 800-298-0111.
What Avenues of Compensation Can a Drunk Driving Accident Victim Pursue in Texas?
Drunk driving accident victims may pursue the following avenues of compensation after a drunk driving accident:
- Restitution. As a part of the criminal prosecution, the district attorney may ask the court to award restitution. Restitution is generally awarded as money to help cover medical expenses. It can be beneficial to talk with the district attorney and provide copies of any medical bills that you incur.
- Crime Victim’s Compensation. Victims of certain violent crimes, including DWI, are eligible to apply for and receive compensation for certain costs and losses under the Texas Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund. To be covered, the crime must have been committed in Texas, you must not have been a party to the crime, and the victim must be a United States resident. You have 3 years from the date of the crime to apply.
- Civil Personal Injury Claims. Victims have the right to hire a civil personal injury lawyer to bring a lawsuit against the drunk driver and in some cases, other parties who were responsible for over-serving the drunk driver. Unline the above avenues, there is a wide variety of damages that you may seek when you file a civil personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver which includes things like pain and suffering, scarring, future medical care, physical impairment, lost wage earning capacity, and punitive damages.
- Child Support. The surviving minors of a person killed by a drunk driver are entitled to be awarded child support payments from the drunk driver if he is ultimately convicted of intoxication manslaughter. (Law applies to intoxication manslaughter convictions after September 1, 2023.)
Bringing a Civil Lawsuit After a Drunk Driving Accident
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, don’t delay in reporting the incident and filing an accident claim with a Houston personal injury lawyer. In Texas, the statute of limitations for these crashes is two years – meaning you have that period from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. After the immediate shock of a crash has subsided, it is critical to contact a Houston car accident attorney with years of experience in personal injury cases. Your attorney can help you understand your rights and who is liable for all types of damages, including physical and emotional losses.
In drunk driving car crashes, the inebriated motorist is liable for all resulting injuries sustained by the other party. However, the victims of drunk driving accident cases still need to take the necessary legal action to receive financial compensation. You have a right to file a personal injury claim, and may also file an insurance claim with the drunk driver’s insurance company. However, as a disclaimer, do not make a statement to their insurance company until you have consulted with trustworthy personal injury accident lawyers.
A drunk driving accident lawyer in Houston can also tell you if you may be able to hold any third parties liable in your case, such as:
- The business that served alcohol to the inebriated driver, like a bar or restaurant;
- Any individual that unlawfully served the driver drugs or alcohol, if said driver was a minor;
- The drunk driver’s employer, if the accident occurred within the scope of their work.
We understand that sifting through legal jargon and dealing with insurance companies can be an added stressor to an already difficult and traumatic experience. That is why every Houston drunk driving accident lawyer at Simmons & Fletcher, P.C. is committed to serving our clients with promptness, compassion, and skill. If we work your case after your free consultation, we can help you understand your rights, who is liable for your accident, and what damages we can try to recover on your behalf.
Steps to Take After Being Injured by a Drunk Driver in Houston
After experiencing an auto accident, it is understandable to be in shock and not promptly take the steps to protect yourself and your legal rights. However, if able, the following steps can be helpful to preserve evidence and strengthen your case:
- Seek Medical Care. If you have been injured and require medical attention, that should be your first priority. If EMTs are at the scene, follow their advice. Depending on the extent of your injuries, accept an ambulance ride or find your way to a hospital as soon as possible.
- Assess the Driver. Take note of and, if possible, document the driver’s state of impairment. Is there visible evidence or signals of intoxication like stumbling or slurred speech? Do you smell alcohol on the driver or in their car? This information can be useful to include in the police report.
- Contact Law Enforcement. Call the police immediately so they can perform the Houston Police Department’s Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. The Houston police officers may also collect evidence and initiate the procedure for a criminal case if necessary, all of which can help you in a potential lawsuit.
- Talk to Witnesses. If another vehicle or motorist was affected by the crash, or if someone witnessed the collision and remained at the scene, collect their contact information and statements.
After you have spoken with the police and addressed any injuries, call a Houston drunk driving accident lawyer for a free consultation and the next steps you should take.
Why Hire Simmons & Fletcher If You Have Been Hit By A Drunk Driver?
We never defend drunk drivers for their criminally reckless conduct, period. Simply put, our Houston drunk driving accident lawyers take drinking and driving very seriously. This is why we chose to become the presenting sponsor for Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Walk Like MADD Houston fundraiser. See our interview with Casie Harris of MADD.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Damages Can a Houston Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Recover?
A Houston drunk driving accident attorney may seek a wide range of civil damages on your behalf including:
- Medical expenses for current or future care, such as physical therapy;
- Lost wages from missing work;
- Loss of earning capacity for future employment;
- Emotional pain and suffering;
- Decline in quality of life;
- In-home caregivers, medical treatment, or modifications for disability;
- Scarring and disfigurement, and;
- Punitive damages.
In addition to these areas for potential compensation, a Texas law introduced in 2023 dictates that those convicted of intoxicated manslaughter can be held responsible for paying child support to any children of deceased parties. Even if there is a surviving parent or guardian, the drunk driver involved in the fatal accident may be still required to pay child support. While these drunk driving cases are tragic and offer little emotional resolution, new laws are a crucial step in handing down the appropriate justice and accountability to intoxicated drivers.
To learn exactly what damages you can seek compensation for, get in touch with an experienced Houston drunk driving accident lawyer for a free case review.
What is Bentley’s Law?
Bently’s law is a law that requires a person who is found guilty of intoxicated manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle to pay child support to any surviving minors who were dependants of the victim. Bentley’s Law went into effect in Texas in September of 2023.
What are the Consequences of Texas Drunk Driving?
Depending on the specifics of the incident, a drunk driver can face criminal charges and civil charges in a drunk driving lawsuit. A criminal charge for driving under the influence can lead to severe consequences. If a Houston drunk driver is convicted of DUI or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), penalties include hefty fines, jail time, and having their driver’s license suspended. The range of penalties depends on prior incidents and convictions involving that driver. In Texas, a third DWI is classified as a felony and will likely end in prison time.
Additionally, a civil lawsuit can be filed by the injured party, where they can seek punitive damages and compensation for medical costs. In either a criminal or civil lawsuit, proceedings can become complex and stressful. You can expect the offender’s defense team and insurance company to fight back against the charges. This is where highly qualified Houston drunk driving lawyers and attorneys can help you build a strong case and support you throughout the process.
What Can I Do if The Drunk Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
If the drunk driver is uninsured, you will need to look to your own uninsured motorist insurance to pay for your injuries. If you do not have this type of coverage, you can also file a claim with the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund for your state. Unfortunately in many cases, the actual damages and injuries that a victim of a drunk driver sustains are compounded by the fact that the irresponsibility and negligence of a person who drives while intoxicated tends to extend to other areas of that individual’s life. Often a person who will get behind the wheel of a car, endangering the lives of people like you and your children, will not have enough (or any) automobile insurance. You need a drunk driving accident attorney in Houston, TX to look into other options when this happens.
How Can a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney Help?
A drunk driving accident attorney understands the need to pursue other avenues of recovery on your behalf when a drunk driver is not responsible enough to carry sufficient insurance coverage. This includes negligent employers who overserve employees at work functions, as well as bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages to already intoxicated patrons. You must have a drunk driving accident lawyer who will consider all the options and answer all your questions. Some questions you should be asking are:
- Do I have a Dram Shop claim?
- Can I file an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist claim?
- Is an employer liable if the drunk driver was drinking at a work function?
Call us for a free consultation if we may help you consider your options.
How Much Does It Cost To Sue A Drunk Driver?
Consultations are free at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. Injury & Accident Lawyers. If we take the case, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case. Call us today for your free consultation at (713) 932-0777.
How Many Drunk Driving Accidents Happen In Texas Every Year?
There are over 15,000 Drunk driving accidents in the State of Texas every year. According to the NHTSA 2021 statistics, 13,384 people lost their lives in auto collisions involving drunk drivers. 1,906 of those people were in Texas. Harris County, home to the city of Houston, unfortunately has the most drunk driving accidents in the state of Texas. Nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 37 people die daily from drunk driving crashes.
Some types of crashes are more common than others when drunk driving is involved. A vehicle accident caused by drunk driving can include, but is not limited to:
- Head-on accidents caused by driving in the opposite lane or crossing over the road divider;
- Rollovers due to high speeds or erratic driving;
- Rear-end damage, typically due to delayed reaction time.
Regardless of the type of collision or the amount of damage, drunk driving causes serious and irreversible effects in almost all cases. Even when a DUI accident doesn’t cause a fatality, it can cause severe physical damage like a traumatic brain injury. If you have been impacted by drunk driving, reach out to an experienced Houston drunk driving accident lawyer as soon as possible to assess your case and be informed of your rights.
What does BAC stand for?
BAC stands for blood alcohol content. It is a measure of the percentage of alcohol that is found in your blood.
At What Blood Alcohol Content Are You Considered Legally Intoxicated in Texas?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a person is legally intoxicated when their blood alcohol concentration level is at 0.08 percent or higher. With this amount of alcohol in their system, the drunk driver cannot control the vehicle, often resulting in swerving on the road or being unable to follow highway directions.
Looking for a Houston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer? Call Simmons & Fletcher now and Get a Free Consultation
At Simmons and Fletcher, our Houston drunk driving accident lawyers understand that this is an extremely difficult time for you and other affected parties. Drunk driving accidents often result in financial strain, whether from hospital bills or automobile repairs. The last thing we want is to add to your economic stress during this time. If we take your case, you will not be charged unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
Related reading: How to Report a Drunk Driver in Texas