Topic: Filing a Drunk Driving Accident Injury Claim
If You Were Injured or Your Loved One Was Killed Due to the Reckless Acts of a Drunk Driver Our Lawyers Can Aggressively Pursue Your Legal Rights
Drunk drivers frequently injure and kill innocent victims as a result of a reckless decision to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or otherwise under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If this situation applies to you, find out below, exactly how our Dallas drunk driving accident injury attorneys can help.
Remember: If you were injured – or a loved one was killed – by a driver impaired by drugs, alcohol, or narcotic pain medication you may be entitled to punitive damages as a result of the driver’s grossly negligent and/or reckless conduct.
Our firm has been holding drunk drivers accountable for our client’s injuries for over 30 years. We devote substantial attention and significant resources to driving while intoxicated / driving under the influence cases and aggressively develop them to demonstrate the impact the event has had – and will continue to have – on your life. After you review the below sections dealing specifically with motor vehicle collisions caused by drunk or impaired drivers we highly suggest you click on our Car Wreck practice section to learn additional information applicable to your case. You can click on a specific section below to immediately be transported to that section.
Q: How do you establish the negligent driver was intoxicated or under the influence at the time of your collision?
A: You can establish the at-fault driver was operating his or her motor vehicle while intoxicated and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a variety of ways. The easiest way, of course, is if the Investigating Officer arrested the at-fault driver at the scene of the wreck on suspicion of DWI or DUI.
Remember: Even if criminal charges were dropped against the at-fault driver or the driver was found not-guilty in a criminal trial, you might still be entitled to an award of punitive damages. Criminal cases require a finding that the Defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt whereas civil trials only require a finding based on a preponderance of the evidence – i.e., more likely than not.
How We Can Help You: Our firm’s in-house private investigator will quickly request and obtain a copy of the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report arising from your collision with the drunk or impaired driver if one was completed. In addition, our investigator will submit an open records request to any applicable law enforcement agencies to obtain additional documents associated with the wreck – including officers’ notes and witness statements. Our firm will also monitor the progress of any criminal charges filed against the at-fault driver and seek to obtain documents associated with any guilty or “no contest” plea. We also run a detailed background search on the drunk or impaired driver to determine his or her financial resources and to identify any prior criminal history – specifically prior arrest for driving while intoxicated or driving while under the influence.
Q: If the police didn’t investigate the wreck is it impossible to prove the at-fault driver was drunk or on drugs?
A: No – but it will be more difficult to do so, obviously. Your testimony alone can be used to establish the Defendant was drunk or otherwise impaired. For example, if you witnessed the at-fault driver throwing beer cans out of his or her vehicle after the wreck, slurring his or her words, stumbling or having a difficult time standing due to intoxication, or any other observation suggesting the use of drugs or alcohol you would be allowed to testify to the observation(s). This would include the smell of alcohol on the at-fault party’s breath.
Remember: Establishing the at-fault driver was drunk or under the influence – if the Police did not come to the scene – is easier if an independent witness confirms your statements or offers his or her own statements demonstrating he or she believed the at-fault driver was intoxicated.
How We Can Help You: Our staff investigator will attempt to track down and interview any known witnesses who can testify to the at-fault driver’s words or actions following the wreck. If possible he will have the witness complete an affidavit under oath. In addition, he has experience in canvassing areas to attempt to locate potential witnesses.
Q: When should you file insurance claims?
A: You should file insurance claims with all potential insurance carriers as soon as possible.
Remember: Generally, the quicker you file claims the sooner your car will be repaired or replaced.
Q: What insurance claims should you file if you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision with a drunk driver or impaired driver?
A: Here are some of the potential insurance you may file:
- Liability claim against the drunk or impaired driver (property damage as well as injury damages);
- Liability claim against the drunk or impaired driver’s employer if they were working at the time of the collision (property damage as well as injury damages);
- Liability claim against the owner of the at-fault motor vehicle if the owner negligently entrusted the vehicle to a drunk or otherwise impaired driver (property damage as well as injury damages);
- Uninsured motorist claim through your own automobile insurance carrier if the drunk driver or impaired driver did not have insurance;
- Underinsured motorist claim through your own automobile insurance carrier if your damages could be in excess of the drunk or impaired driver’s insurance limits; and
- Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) through your own automobile insurance carrier fore reimbursement of medical expenses and wages you have lost due to the accident.
How We Can Help You: Our office will file all necessary claims with potential insurance carriers at the onset of your case.
Remember: You may be entitled to certain insurance coverage if you live in a household with someone who carries additional coverage beyond that contained in your own policy.
We will assist you in making sure your car, motorcycle, or truck is replaced or repaired in a timely manner following the collision.
Q: Should you take your car to the repair shop recommended by the drunk driver’s insurance carrier?
A: No way. Insurance carriers want your vehicle damage to be as low as possible. Exercise your right to take your car, motorcycle, or truck to the dealership or a repair shop of your choosing to obtain an estimate.
Q: Are you entitled to a rental car?
A: Usually you are entitled to a rental car unless your vehicle has been “totaled” or deemed a “total loss.” If your car is totaled you are only entitled to recover the fair market value (FMV) of your car – though some carriers will pay for a rental vehicle until your vehicle has been determined to be a “total loss”.
Remember: Filing a property damage claim with your own insurance company and requesting a rental vehicle (if you have that coverage) is sometimes the quickest way to get your car repaired or replaced. You will likely pay your deductible but should receive a refund of the deductible amount if the drunk driver’s insurance company eventually pays for the cost of repairs and/or the replacement value.
Q: Can you get a loan against your case if you were injured in a collision with a drunk driver?
A: Most likely. Most law loan companies, however, require you to have an attorney to receive a loan against the eventual settlement proceeds of your case.
How We Can Help You: Our Dallas drunk driving accident injury attorneys work with all of the major law loan companies to help clients receive immediate financial assistance.
Q: Can our office help you find someone to treat your injuries if you don’t have health insurance or you can’t afford co-pays and deductibles?
A: Absolutely. We have been fighting for injured victims for over 30 years and have established relationships with numerous medical providers who have all agreed to delay billing you for services until your case concludes.
Q: Does that include surgeries?
A: Absolutely. Our firm works with a number of orthopedic surgeons and even a neurosurgeon who are willing to forego payment for surgery until your case concludes. Of course, available insurance proceeds must be established prior to the surgery. In addition, our firm works with anesthesiologists, surgical centers, surgical nurses, and hospitals who are also willing to forego payment until your case concludes.
Q: What happens if a health insurance company pays a portion of your medical bills following the collision?
A: The health insurance company is generally entitled to be reimbursed if you recover funds from a negligent third-party. Our firm, however, can almost always convince the health insurance company to discount the amount of its lien.
Q: What damages can you potentially recover if you have been injured by a drunk driver or driver that was under the influence of drugs or narcotics?
A: Available damages fall into two general categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include recovery of your medical expenses, any reasonable and necessary future medical expenses, vehicle repair costs or the replacement value of your vehicle, diminished value of your vehicle, lost wages, and income you will lose in the future. Non-economic damages are not as readily ascertainable. These damages include pain and suffering in the past and future, impairment in the past and future, and mental anguish in the past and future.
How We Can Help You: Our firm has over 30 years experience in evaluating personal injury claims. We seek to maximize your recovery and fully develop your damage model. Our firm will retain experts to establish both liability and damages if necessary. For example, in the past we have retained economists and vocational rehabilitation consultants to develop our clients’ claims for loss of earnings in the future. We have also retained life-care planners to estimate future medical costs as well as to evaluate the cost of any accommodations made necessary due to the accident with the drunk driver.
Q: What additional damages can you potentially recover if the at-fault driver was driving while intoxicated or driving while under the influence?
A: If you were injured by a drunk driver you may be entitled to punitive damages.
Q: What are punitive damages?
A: Punitive damages are designed to punish the drunk driver and can usually be recovered due to the drunk driver’s reckless or grossly negligent conduct.
Q: If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision with a drunk driver – or a loved one has been killed – can you file a personal injury claim against a bar or restaurant if they over-served alcohol?
A: Yes. These cases – often referred to as “Dram Shop” cases – require you to demonstrate the bar or restaurant over-served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated individual.
Q: How do you establish the driver was “obviously intoxicated” while he was the bar or restaurant?
A: Witness testimony is very important in establishing the driver was obviously intoxicated. Bar and restaurant employees are unlikely to be helpful so other customers are usually the best source of information. In addition, the driver’s blood alcohol content in conjunction with the timing of when he left the bar or restaurant is also of critical importance.
Contact our drunk driving accident injury attorneys in Dallas, Plano and Fort Worth for a free consultation today! We’ll review the specifics of your case and explain how we can help you get the just compensation you deserve.