Your Rights After a Drunk Driving Accident

Drunk Driving Accidents and Dram Shop Claims | Patrick Daniel Law
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Drunk driving is completely avoidable. Tragically, too many drivers drink too much and get behind the wheel, putting themselves and others at risk.

Hundreds of people are killed and thousands are injured each year in drunk driving accidents in Texas. If you suffered injury or lost a loved one in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, it is important to know your rights.

Please contact a car accident lawyer at Patrick Daniel Law for a free review of your case. Our attorneys serve clients throughout Houston and all of Texas.

Your Right to Compensation from the Drunk Driver

Negligence is the key factor in any personal injury claim. To recover compensation, you must be able to prove that the party or parties at fault for your injuries were negligent.

Drunk driving is an inherently reckless action. The driver and passengers of a vehicle, motorcyclists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others, as well as their families, can sue for injuries or wrongful death caused by a drunk driver.

Compensation you may be able to recover for damages in a drunk driving accident include:

  • Expenses for medical care and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident (e.g., the cost of modifying your home and vehicle to accommodate your injuries)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Loss of consortium, society, and companionship

The victims of drunk driving accidents and their families may also be awarded punitive damages. Also known as exemplary damages, this compensation is awarded as a means of making an example of defendants who engage in gross negligence or malicious conduct. 

Generally, punitive damages are subject to a cap totaling either (a) $200,000 or (b) double the amount of economic damages plus the amount of non-economic damages up to $750,000 – whichever is greater. However, this cap does not apply in cases where the defendant commits a felony.

Exceptions to the punitive damages cap include intoxication assault (serious bodily injury stemming from an individual’s intoxication) and intoxication manslaughter (death stemming from an individual’s intoxication). As such, you and your loved ones may be awarded punitive damages beyond the cap if the court finds that the driver’s conduct constitutes gross negligence (i.e., if the driver responsible for the accident has a history of drunk driving or his/her blood alcohol content drastically exceeded the legal limit).

Your Right to Compensation Under the Dram Shop Law

Drivers have a responsibility not to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Similarly, establishments that sell alcoholic beverages – such as bars, restaurants, etc. – are legally bound to refuse service to customers who are obviously intoxicated, as well as those under the age of 21.

In Texas, establishments that fail in these duties may be held liable under the state’s dram shop law.

Dram shop liability may apply in a variety of claims where the actions of a drunken individual cause injury to somebody else. Accidents involving drunk driving are by far the most common cause of action under the dram shop law.

Effectively, dram shop claims provide the victims of drunk drivers with an additional avenue for pursuing compensation for injuries and wrongful death. The vendor may be liable for many of the same damages as the intoxicated driver, such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Why You Need a Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

Drunk driving accidents may seem cut-and-dried. If a driver was drunk, he or she was responsible for the accident, and you and your family are entitled to damages – right?

Unfortunately, compensation for a drunk driving accident is not automatic. The victims of intoxicated driving frequently have to fight to recover damages after a crash. Insurance companies may exacerbate the challenges in a claim, arguing that you were partly responsible for the accident or denying coverage under the drunk driver’s policy.

Furthermore, the evidence in your case must support your claim that the driver was drunk at the time of the accident. If you file a dram shop claim against the establishment that served the driver, you must also be able to prove negligence on the part of the staff.

Given these difficulties, it is important to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible if you have been hit by a drunk driver. Your lawyer will gather all relevant evidence, consult experts, and build strong claims against the driver and the establishment on your behalf.

Protect Your Rights – Speak to a Lawyer Today

If you have been injured or a member of your family was killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may have multiple claims for compensation. The attorneys at Patrick Daniel Law can help you explore your legal options and pursue full recovery of damages.

Our lawyers are Strategic, Meticulous, and Merciless. We thoroughly investigate the accident, develop an individualized legal strategy, and relentlessly seek a favorable result for you and your loved ones in your time of need.

Please call Patrick Daniel Law at (713) 999-6666 today for a free review of your drunk driving accident claim. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Houston and other areas of Texas.

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