Drunk drivers cause an average of 28 deaths every day in America. That’s more than 10,000 deaths a year. And this figure doesn’t include the numerous non-fatal alcohol-related accidents that bring physical and emotional consequences to the victims of a drunk driver.
If you’ve been in a collision with a drunk driver, you may have suffered significant injuries and damage to your vehicle. In Texas, you have the right to file a lawsuit against a drunk driver for the damage they caused. You can seek compensation for all of your injuries in a lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to negotiate a drunk driving accident settlement in Texas on your behalf.
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident, you may be wondering about the average drunk driving accident settlement in Texas. To understand the value of a possible drunk driving settlement, you must understand the factors involved in a drunk driving personal injury case.
What Is “Drunk Driving” in Texas?
Drunk driving means a driver is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Under Texas law, a driver is legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is at or above 0.08%.
The State of Texas imposes criminal penalties on drunk drivers. These penalties can include a criminal conviction on your record, fines, the loss of driving privileges, supervised probation, and even possible time in jail.
In addition to criminal penalties, intoxicated drivers might also face consequences in civil court. A person injured in a collision caused by a drunk driver can bring a claim against the driver for financial compensation. When victims bring such claims, the drunk driver may have to compensate victims financially for their injuries and losses. This means that if you are a victim who has suffered a drunk driving accident injury, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the drunk driver seeking money damages.
Drunk Driving Lawsuit Basics
In many ways, a lawsuit against a drunk driver is not too different from a lawsuit against other negligent drivers. In Texas, to show negligence against a driver, you must prove
- Duty—The other driver owes you an obligation to drive carefully and in a reasonably safe manner;
- Breach of Duty—A driver breaches the duty of safe driving when they operate a motor vehicle carelessly;
- Causation—The driver caused the accident; and
- Harm—You suffered harm from the accident.
However, you do not need to prove all four of the above elements if you can prove that the driver was intoxicated in Texas. Drunk driving inherently violates a driver’s duty of care to others, so duty and breach of duty are already established. Instead, you just need to show that a driver caused an accident while driving under the influence.
Texas also uses a form of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that you would be assigned a percentage of fault if you did anything to contribute to the accident. Any compensation available to you would then be reduced in proportion to your level of responsibility for your own injuries. So, for instance, if the court finds you to be 10% at fault for the accident, then your total damage award is reduced by 10%.
However, in Texas, if you are primarily at fault for the accident, then you will not be successful in your claim—even if the other driver is intoxicated. You must be less than 50% at fault for the accident to recover any compensation from the drunk driver.
Average Drunk Driving Accident Settlement
If you are the victim of a drunk driving accident, it may be difficult to put a dollar amount on your losses. Depending on the circumstances, a drunk driving accident settlement value can extend from a couple of thousand dollars up into the million-dollar range. Thus, giving an “average” settlement amount that helps injured victims know what to expect is challenging.
Types of Damages
In Texas, someone injured in a car accident may seek to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are damages that are relatively easy to calculate because they have a fixed value attached to them. Examples of economic damages include:
- Damage to property, including your car;
- Medical and hospital bills;
- Lost wages from missing work; and
- Lost future earnings due to your injuries.
Non-economic damages are less tangible and more difficult to calculate. They include damages for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
Additionally, in rare cases where the driver’s behavior was particularly reckless, a jury could award punitive damages. Punitive damages are essentially a financial punishment for the driver’s egregious misconduct.
Factors Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident Settlement in Texas
As you can see, the types and amounts of damages available to victims can vary greatly. It’s understandable if you are confused about how to determine a drunk driving accident settlement amount. That’s one reason you need an attorney to help—so you don’t unknowingly accept a lowball offer. It takes a professional to properly assess damages since they depend on many factors, such as the severity of any injuries, the extent of property damage, and whether the injured party is now out of work or has limited working abilities.
Time Limit for A Drunk Driving Accident Claim
Every legal claim has a time limit by which the injured party must bring a lawsuit. If you do not file a case in court within the time set by the law, then, unfortunately, you will not be able to seek any compensation.
In Texas, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident. Two years can fly by quickly, so do not wait. You should consult with an experienced attorney who can help you gather everything you’ll need well before the two years have passed.
Speak with Our Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys to Help Achieve a Fair Settlement
When you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you need an attorney you can rely on. You also need an attorney that isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with an insurance company that tries to minimize your claims. The Hartley Law Firm is here to help. Our experienced attorneys have successfully represented clients like you in car accident cases. We have abundant trial experience, unlike other law firms. So insurance companies know that we are not afraid to fight it out in court if they fail to make a reasonable settlement offer. That’s an advantage for you. We’ll fully investigate your case and fight to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.