If the other driver was driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) at the time of your crash, it can be clear proof of fault for your car accident claim. Read on to learn more about DUI collisions and how you can secure drunk driving car accident compensation in Texas.
Will Insurance Companies Pay for Car Accidents That Drunk Drivers Cause?
Insurance companies will not cover car accidents drivers’ intentional misconduct caused. However, it is a common misconception that a drunk driver’s insurer will not pay. Even though drunk driving is a choice, the intention is often not to cause a wreck. Therefore, a DUI driver’s auto liability policy should pay for collision damages if their client is liable.
You can file a drunk driving car accident claim to recover compensation for the following:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages, earnings, and employment benefits
- Loss of your future earning capacity
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Household services
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Diminished quality of life
- Wrongful death of a loved one
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Is an Intoxicated Driver Always At Fault for a Car Accident?
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal, so proof of intoxication is clear-cut evidence of fault in a car accident case. However, Texas follows a modified comparative negligence doctrine, meaning an injured party can share fault or bear enough liability that bars them from recovering damages.
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001, your percentage of fault will reduce any compensation you seek for a personal injury. If you have $100,000 in car wreck damages but are 20 percent liable for the crash, you would receive $80,000. Any percentage of fault above 50 percent will bar you from pursuing financial awards.
Insurance companies use comparative negligence to reduce their financial liability. Auto insurers may look for reasons to blame you for a car accident, even if their client was drinking and driving.
How Can You Prove a DUI Driver Caused Your Crash?
You must collect evidence supporting your car insurance claim and prove a DUI driver is liable for your collision and the resulting financial losses. Proof in a drunk driving accident case may include the following:
- Police reports
- Breath, blood, or field sobriety test results
- Eyewitness accounts
- Cell phone, dashcam, or surveillance video
- Photographs, debris, and physical evidence from the crash site
- Pictures of your injuries and vehicle damages
- Crash reconstruction reports
- Expert testimony
- Medical bills, receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and other proof of your damages
- Medical records
- The at-fault driver’s previous DUI convictions (if applicable)
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How Long Do You Have to File a DUI Auto Accident Claim?
You should file your claim for compensation immediately following your DUI car accident. Acting quickly will allow you to preserve evidence, interview witnesses before their memories fade, and challenge allegations that your injuries did not arise from a crash. Filing your claim as soon as possible will also give you time to negotiate a fair and full settlement before Texas’ statute of limitations runs out.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 generally allows two years from the date of an auto wreck to file a personal injury lawsuit. It allows parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit two years from the decedent’s death date. Once this window closes, you may not have any legal leverage over the insurance company. You must either resolve your claim or pursue a case in civil court before the deadline expires.
What Is the Legal Limit for a DUI in Texas?
According to Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2), a person is legally intoxicated if:
- They have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher; or
- They lack the “normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances.”
Therefore, a driver may be guilty of DUI if they are on any substance that impairs their driving, including alcohol, marijuana, prescription medication, or illegal drugs.
What Should You Do if You Were in a Drunk Driving Accident?
You can do several things to protect your health and your right to compensation after a drunk driving car accident:
- Report your DUI collision. If a law enforcement officer was not at the accident scene, you must report the collision to the Texas Department of Transportation. This will generate a crash report that will be important evidence for your insurance claim.
- Seek medical treatment. You should see your doctor as soon as possible if you have not already. Getting medical treatment ensures you do not have an undiscovered injury. It also creates a medical record for your case. Make sure you follow your doctor’s orders, do not miss future appointments, and do not engage in activities that could aggravate your injuries.
- Be careful what you say to the insurance company. If an insurance agent contacts you, do not go into detail about your accident or injuries. Do not accept fault for the crash or speculate about what happened. Do not agree to give a recorded statement or accept a hasty settlement that may not fully compensate your losses.
- Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. Pursuing car accident damages can be daunting, especially if you are coping with a severe injury or the insurance company plays hardball or engages in bad-faith tactics. Working with a drunk driving accident attorney with our firm can provide a legal ally who will stand up for you and fight for the maximum compensation possible.
Call Loncar Lyon Jenkins Today for a Free Consultation After a Drunk Driving Accident
Contact the team at Loncar Lyon Jenkins today for a risk-free, no-cost consultation. A drunk driving car accident lawyer with our Texas law firm can tell you more about how intoxication or DUI will affect your car accident claim.
We take cases on contingency, so working with us will cost you nothing up front or out of pocket. We only get paid if we win compensation for you or your loved one. Call in the Strong Arm to help you recover the awards you deserve.