Hit by a Drunk Driver in San Antonio?
Drunk drivers cause problems for all motorists and passengers in America. This is because alcohol makes it harder for people to drive safely. For example, drunk drivers often weave in and out of their lanes. They also ignore stop signs. Or worse yet, they drive the wrong way and crash head on with another car.
Together, these bad driving facts often add up to a tragedy. Every year drunk drivers badly hurt or kill thousands of people in the United States. Further, drunk drivers pass off the drunk driving risks and costs to their victims.
To explain, after a DWI car wreck–the victim will need to get his or her car fixed. The victim may also need to pay medical bills. Or sadly, the victim’s family may need to make funeral arrangements. In any event, the victim often foots the bill for the wreck.
This experience causes victims to feel a range of emotions. Shock from the accident. Anger at the drunk driver. And uncertainty about what happens next.
As a result, this post will answer some of the most common questions people have after a DWI wreck. Our goal is to provide you with information that will help you take control of your case. Finally, we will give you options to consider before filing a DWI lawsuit against a drunk driver.
Can you sue a drunk driver for hitting you in Texas?
Yes. Texas law allows you to sue a drunk drivers for the DWI crash he or she caused. This includes asking for lost wages, paying medical bills, and other expenses. Taken together, the harm will become the damages you ask a judge or jury to award.
More to the point, a DWI lawsuit is a a simple negligence suit against the drunk driver. To win this type of case, you must show the following:
- The drunk driver had a duty to drive safely;
- He broke that duty when he drove drunk and did not follow the rules of the road; and
- As a direct result of that carelessness, the drunk driver caused the victim harm.
Stated differently, negligence is carelessness. So you must show the drunk driver was careless when he drove drunk and crashed into your car.
Examples of careless driving include:
- Failing to stop at a stop sign;
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street;
- Failing to stay in your driving lane;
- Driving with a blood alcohol level above .08;
- Failing to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you; or
- Running a red light.
In sum, these facts are common in DWI car crash cases. Drunk drivers run stop signs and hit another car. They swerve into a bike lane and hit a cyclist. Or they react slower than normal to changing road conditions because they are drunk.
Can you get extra damages from drunk drivers in a DWI lawsuit?
Yes. Texas law allows victims to ask for exemplary damages in some cases. This is a money amount apart from what the victim actually lost. In other words, the law allows for these extra damages to punish drunk drivers.
Stated differently, you must show the drunk driver committed Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter to get the extra money award. For these reasons, extra money damages are limited to the more serious drunk driving car wreck cases.
Despite this fact, you can still sue a drunk driver for normal money damages even if no one is badly hurt or killed in the crash.
How does insurance cover drunk driving accidents?
Fortunately, many DWI car wrecks are not that serious. That is to say, the DWI driver does not badly hurt or kill anyone. Consequently, you can often settle the case with the DWI driver’s insurance company. In this way, DWI car crash cases are just like regular car crash cases.
For instance, you will need to provide the insurance company with your medical bills, proof of lost wages, and police reports. Often, these types of documents will be good enough to settle your case.
However, if the insurance company denies your claim, then you can file the DWI lawsuit we talked about above.
What if the drunk driver does not have any insurance to pay for the accident?
This is a common problem in many car wreck cases. Either the bad driver has no insurance. Or he does not have enough insurance. The law calls these UM and UIM cases. Stated simply, it means the driver is either uninsured or underinsured.
If this is your case, then you can check your own auto policy to see if you have UM or UIM coverage. If you do, then you can file a claim with your own insurance company to help offset the costs of the DWI wreck.
Of major interest, UM and UIM protection covers the following:
- Car repairs;
- Rental cars;
- Medical bills; and
- Pain and suffering.
Hopefully this will be enough to cover your damages.
At the same time, if your insurance company denies your claim, then you can also file a UM or UIM suit against them. In this type of case, you must show:
- You have an auto policy with UM or UIM coverage;
- The drunk driver negligently caused the accident;
- How much money you are asking for; and
- The drunk driver either had no insurance or not enough insurance.
Plus, this will not increase your insurance rates. To summarize, you should request UM or UIM protection from your insurance company if the drunk driver cannot pay for the harm he caused.
Can I sue the bar that overserved the drunk driver in Texas?
Yes. You can file a Texas Dram Shop Act case against the bar that overserved the drunk driver. In a nutshell, to win this type of case, you need to show:
- That the bar served an obviously drunk patron;
- The drunk patron must be a clear danger to himself or others; and
- The drunkenness from overserving the drunk patron caused the wreck.
In short, these types of cases carry a higher burden for DWI victims. Drunk Driver victims must prove these specific facts in order to recover from the bar.
Nevertheless, you should not overlook this option in your DWI lawsuit investigation. In many cases, this may be your best option if someone you love is seriously hurt or killed in a DWI crash.
San Antonio DWI Accident Attorney Genaro R. Cortez.
Genaro R. Cortez is a DWI and Car Accident Attorney in San Antonio, Texas. He has over 20 years experience handling DWI criminal cases. He also helps victims of drunk drivers with auto claims and lawsuits in San Antonio and South Texas.