Drunk Driving Accident Victims – Drinking and Driving Attorney
Legal Representation for Injured Victims of Drunk Drivers
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Every year, drunk driving puts nearly 112 million people at risk because of poor decisions and dangerous habits. Choosing to drive while intoxicated is extremely risky behavior that leads to severe accidents. The crashes can lead to permanent injuries or death. Drunk driving accident victims may have their lives ruined because of irresponsible decisions by another party. If you or a loved one was injured in a drunk driving accident, our Drunk Driving Accident Victims Attorneys can help to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. In addition, if a death occurs because of a drunk driving accident, family members may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one.
Whether or not the courts find a drunk driver criminally liable, The Carlson Law Firm helps drunk driving accident victims and their families find justice and accountability through civil claims for compensation. We have more than 40 years of experience protecting the rights of individual injured in a drunk driving crash. Call us today to schedule a free consultation if you or a loved one was hit by a drunk driver.
How Big of a Problem is Drunk Driving?
The number one cause of death on our roadways continues to be caused by drunk driving. In fact, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2017. Thanks to the work of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) beginning in the 1980s, drunk driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades. However, any life lost to drunk driving is a tragedy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, drunk driving crashes claimed more than 10,000 lives. In essence, one person dies every 48 minutes in an alcohol-related vehicle crash.
While these numbers are considerably lower than where they once were, drunk driving is still a massive problem in the United States. On average, 130 million U.S. adults report some level of alcohol consumption before driving each year. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and nearly 25 percent of crashes involving teens involves an underage drunk driver. In fact, according to the latest data, drivers ages 16-24 made up 39 percent of drivers involved in fatal alcohol-impaired crashes. Additionally, young adult 25-34 make up another 29 percent of fatal drunk driving crashes.
In 2017, 19 percent of the 1,147 traffic deaths involving children 0 to 14 involved alcohol impairment.
When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Texas?
Driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), is a federal offense. If an individual is driving impaired, they can be arrested and charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol content (BAC), is at or above the legal level of .08. In 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. There is no amount of money or a price tag that can cover the cost of pain and suffering caused by a serious injury or losing a loved one to a drunk driver. However, every little bit helps. Drunk driving accidents are entirely preventable, and it takes a seriously negligent driver to drive under the influence of alcohol. In the event of a drunk driving accident, our team of drunk driving accident victims attorneys is here to help victims hit by a drunk driver receive the justice they deserve.
- Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
- Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater. In Texas, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
- Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when there is any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
It is important to note that any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream can impact your driving ability. Although the effects of alcohol depend on several factors in individuals, many states base a driver’s level of intoxication on a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The amount of alcohol in your bloodstream affects your driving in the following ways:
For the average person, one drink raises can raise their blood alcohol level to .02 percent. Even at this level, there is a possible chance that the substance will affect judgment. At .02, a person may experience:
- Lack of judgment
- Increased relaxation
- Slightly increase body temperature
- Mood swings
- Decreased visual functionality
- Inability to multi-task
For people with a smaller body weight, just one drink can raise the BAC to .05 percent. For other people, by the second drink within an hour, they may experience:
- Increased lack of judgment
- Exaggerated behavior
- Lack of coordination
- Reduced ability to detect moving objects
- Lack of alertness
- Lack of inhibitions
- Decrease small-muscle control
- Reduced response rate
Anywhere between 3-4 drinks within one hour can raise your blood alcohol content to .08—the legal limit for intoxication. Drivers who crash or get pulled over by a police officer at .08, will be charged with drunk driving. When you reach this level of intoxication, your driving skills will be affected by:
- Reduced muscle coordination
- Lack of judgment
- Lack of reasoning
- No impulse control
- Loss of short-term memory
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Lack of speed control
- Reduced ability to process information
Depending on your body weight, 5-7 drinks within a one hour period can put your BAC way over the legal limit. At this level of intoxication, a person experiences:
- Poor coordination
- Slowed reaction times
- Reduced ability to control the vehicle
- Inability to keep a vehicle within its lanes
- Inability to brake at appropriate times
- Slurred speech
.15 and over
More than five drinks within an hour can put you into dangerous territory. At this level of intoxication, a person experiences:
- Extreme loss of balance
- Nearly zero muscle control
- Impaired sight and hearing information processing
- Significantly reduced attention to driving tasks
Drunk driving accidents can be life-altering events for innocent individuals who, through no fault of their own, are injured or killed by an impaired driver. There is no question that drunk driving offenders should be held legally accountable for their actions and the damages they cause.
Common Injuries Caused By Drinking and Driving Crashes
The consequences of being hit by a drunk driver can be catastrophic. Drunk driving crashes are some of the deadliest crashes on the road, accounting for nearly 30 percent of crash fatalities in 2017. Victims who suffer severe injuries in an accident go through severe pain and suffering, and their injuries often require extended hospital stays, expensive medical treatment and significant lost time from work.
Much like any other crash, any part of your body can sustain an injury in a drunk driving crash. However, the following parts of the body are most vulnerable when hit by a drunk driver:
Neck. The most common neck injury is whiplash. This is particularly true in low-impact crashes. On the other hand, neck injuries at high velocities can lead to severe injuries such as injuries to the trachea or larynx. These injuries may lead to long-term eating or breathing problems.
Spinal cord. Spinal injuries can lead to complete or partial paralysis in drunk driving accident victims.
Brain. The brain is particularly vulnerable to injuries during drunk driving crashes. Victims of drunk drivers may suffer traumatic brain injuries that can lead to long-term or permanent injuries that impair physical and cognitive abilities, behavioral and emotional issues, paralysis and coma.
Legs and knees. Drunk driving accident victims can suffer leg breaks or shattered knees—depending on the impact. While some survivors recover, others may live with lifelong complications. A victim may have difficulty walking or even standing. These types of injuries can make returning to an active lifestyle difficult.
Chest. Broken ribs and cracked sternums are common in drunk driving crashes.
Ever-increasing hospital bills and inability to work may cause significant financial strain for the victim and his or her family. In some cases, those injured in an accident with a drunk driver are unable ever to recover the quality of life that they once enjoyed. This is because they may be unable to return to work ever. Or they may be unable to return to the type of work they were doing before their injuries—resulting in a pay cut.
Being involved in a car accident of any kind is scary. But being involved in a car accident caused by a drunk driver can lead to several emotions. Emotional pain can consume a survivor or the family of a loved one killed in the crash. This emotional turmoil can lead to behavior that is out of character.
Drunk driving crashes are traumatic experiences. It is natural for a survivor to go through the seven stages of grief. Some survivors may seek the help of a professional through counseling or a survivor’s support group.
Types of Damages For Drunk Driving Accident Victims
Holding a drunk driver responsible can be done in both criminal and civil court. Drunk drivers may cause serious injuries and fatally injure other motorists on the road. Both the injured parties and their families may be eligible to receive compensation for their losses. They may have an interest in pursuing a civil lawsuit against a drunk driver because criminal courts don’t have the power to make a person whole again. Drunk driving accident victims may be entitled to damages for the following:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses (past, ongoing and future)
- Lost wages and/or future employment capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
Punitive Damages in DWI Cases
In many drunk-driving car accidents, a victim can seek punitive damages for the dangerous conduct on the part of the defendant driver. While Texas has established specific rules for dealing with punitive damages, they can still be appropriately sought in some accidents involving the DWI accident.
It is important to note, that punitive damages are in addition to actual damages. These damages are assessed as a civil punishment for negligent acts.
Hit by a drunk driver? Contact The Carlson Law Firm today. We can schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a qualified Drunk Driving Accident Victims attorney to discuss your next steps.
A DWI Arrest Is Not Necessary
Proving that the defendant was negligent is a critical part of any personal injury case. When it can be shown that the defendant broke a law that was designed to protect people from harm, and someone suffered harm because of that violation, this is often enough to establish the defendant’s negligence. In the case of a drunk driving accident, producing evidence of the defendant’s DUI conviction can help prove negligence. However, even if the defendant is not convicted or even arrested, a personal injury attorney can still use the fact of a defendant’s drunk driving as evidence of negligence. The standards of proof required in civil and criminal courts are very different, so even if a drunk driver is not held criminally liable, that does not mean he or she cannot be held civilly responsible to pay compensation to the drunk driving accident victim.
Dram Shop Law: Establishments May be Liable for Over Serving
Texas liquor laws make it illegal to sell alcohol to a person under 21, to a person who is already under the influence of alcohol, to an alcoholic, or for consumption in a vehicle. In fact, a business which violates these laws may be liable to a person who later suffers injuries by a drunk driver. Proving so-called “dram shop liability” is often challenging, however, the attorneys have The Carlson Law Firm have 40 years of experience successfully proving fault in Dram Shop cases for drunk driving accident victims.
Investigating Drunk Driving Accidents
There are a number of steps that should be taken immediately after a crash involving a drunk driver. It’s essential that an investigator is dispatched to the scene as soon as possible. Timing is of the essence in these cases so don’t hesitate to contact a Drunk Driving Accident Victims Attorney as quickly as possible. We will pursue your case aggressively and immediately begin the following:
- Take pictures of the incident scene
- Have persons involved in the collision provide recorded statements
- Obtain a copy of the police report
- Examine the automobile or truck
- Establish the extent of injuries
While the insurance company usually completes these within the first week of the accident, often it is completed within the first 24 hours of the crash. Different insurance companies have different tactics. Additionally, adjusters will use any means necessary to drive down the value of your claim.
Hit By A Drunk Driver? Protecting Your Legal Rights – Drunk Driving Accident Victims
Various Carlson Law Firm locations are extremely active in their local communities in the fight to put an end to drinking and driving. Our mission is to help our clients hold a drunk driver responsible for their actions.
When you are seriously injured in an accident, you have a lot to worry about. Aside from recovering physically, which could require a lengthy hospital stay and follow-up treatment, you may face substantial medical bills not covered by your insurance — as well as missed time at work that could put a financial strain on you and your family.
Law enforcement does not take driving under the influence of alcohol lightly. The laws concerning drunk driving are on your side, and with our assistance, you can receive a substantial amount of compensation. The legal representative you choose to fight for your case can either make or break your case. If a drunk driver hit you, we will help protect your rights.
At The Carlson Law Firm, our Texas car accident lawyers have the tools and resources to help you through this situation while pursuing a maximum settlement from a drunk driving accident. The laws concerning drunk driving can appear complicated and difficult to understand. With our assistance, you can obtain damages for a loss of income, permanent disabilities, therapy and more. We can help you through this tough situation.