We Have 25 Years of Experience Going After Drunk Drivers. Use Our Knowledge to Your Advantage
You must be overwhelmed with questions after your Dallas car wreck. Why not get the answers from a Texas board-certified personal injury attorney?
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How long will it take to settle my drunk driving accident claim?
Filing a claim for compensation for your injuries after a drunk driving wreck can be a stressful time of life. You suddenly have worries about your health and how to pay the bills while you must be off work recovering. You most likely will quickly realize that the settlement process is anything but easy and will wonder how long it will be before you receive your check. This is a common concern of many drunk driving victims. Here, we try to take away some of the mystery about this burning question.
How Long Will Your Drunk Driving Case Take to Resolve?
Unfortunately, no attorney can give you a precise time period for when your claim will settle. However, he can give you a general idea of how long it will take based on his experience in settling other cases and the specific issues he sees in yours. Here are some factors that affect the length of time it can take to resolve your claim:
Maximum Medical Improvement.
Your maximum medical improvement is the point in your recovery where you have recovered as much as you will—whether or not you make a full recovery—or your doctor can give you a final prognosis. You need to wait until you reach this stage to settle your case so that you include any future medical bills and wage losses in your settlement.
Like with any car wreck claim, you have the burden of proving the other driver’s negligence and the amount of compensation you deserve. This means that you must prove that the drunk driving caused your wreck, which is not always the case. If there are disputes with the drunk driver’s insurance company as to the cause of the wreck or how serious your injuries are, this could delay settlement of your claim.
Documentation of your damages.
You must provide the insurance company with the documentation of your medical bills and your wages before settling your claim. While an experienced personal injury attorney can begin collecting this information right away, some of it cannot be obtained until after you complete your medical treatment and are ready to settle your claim. This can take time and delay the process.
Severity of your injuries.
If you suffered more long-term injuries or one that causes you to become disabled, the value of your claim will be higher. In these cases, the insurance company will spend more time investigating your case and may fight harder to deny or reduce your settlement.
Unfortunately, some insurance companies have a reputation for taking longer to settle claims. They may request more documentation or delay the process in an effort to wear you down and get you to accept a smaller settlement.
While it can be frustrating when your claim is taking longer than you would like it to, it is important to not settle too quickly for less than you are entitled to. You can increase the chances that you will receive what you deserve by retaining an experienced drunk driving wreck attorney. To discuss your situation and the approximate time period it could take to settle your claim, contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation.
We help injured victims of drunk drivers throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How can I help my attorney in my case against a drunk driver?
Once you retain an experienced attorney to represent you in a claim against a drunk driver, you may incorrectly believe that your job is done in terms of your claim. You may not realize that you are on a team with your attorney and that you can do things to help him represent you. However, when you work with your attorney, you may increase the strength of your claim and make settling your claim go faster.
Ways to Help Your Attorney When You Are Injured by a Drunk Driver
It is not difficult to help your lawyer build a powerful case of negligence against the drunk driver who caused your injuries. Follow these tips for assisting your attorney:
Your conversations with your attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege. It is critical that you are completely honest with your attorney and disclose any potentially harmful information, such as that you suffered a pre-existing injury to the same body part. When your attorney finds out damaging information from the other driver’s insurance adjuster or attorney, this weakens your claim and reduces your attorney’s ability to obtain a fair settlement for you.
Provide a detailed description of events.
Your attorney will need a chronological description of the events leading up to your crash. This will help him understand what happened and determine the value of your claim. Presenting this information in an organized fashion is helpful.
Provide basic information.
You want to provide your attorney with any information you have about the crash and your injuries. This can include providing him with a copy of the police report, pictures, medical records, contact information for the other driver and witnesses, and more.
Respond to requests promptly.
If your attorney requests information or documents from you, get this information to him quickly. He may not be able to move forward in your case until he receives it.
It is important that you understand what is going on in your case and your attorney’s strategies. If you do not understand the status of your claim or what he is doing, ask questions.
Follow your attorney’s advice.
One of the best ways you can help your attorney is to follow his advice in regards to your claim. He is trying to build the strongest case possible for you, and you help him do this by following his advice on matters that could impact on this.
Were you or a loved injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver? Our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to explain your legal options to you and to fight for the compensation you deserve. Review our case results to see how we have helped other clients and then contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation.
We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Will I have to go to court in my case for compensation against the drunk driver who caused my injuries?
One reason you may be reluctant to file a claim for compensation after suffering injuries in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver may be fears about going to court. It may be frightening to think of testifying at a trial and emotionally draining to relive the experiences of the wreck. However, you should not let the fear of a trial stop you from filing a claim. The reality is that it is unlikely that you will need to take your case to trial to receive the full value of your claim.
Reasons Why Drunk Driving Injury Claims Rarely Go to Trial
While it is likely that your case will be settled rather than decided at a trial, this does not mean that your case will not go to court. If the insurance company will not offer a reasonable settlement, your experienced drunk driving wreck attorney will need to file a civil lawsuit on your behalf and litigate your case. This is not uncommon. However, in most cases, the insurance company will become more reasonable in its settlement offers before a trial date. Here are some reasons why it is unlikely that you will have to take your case to jury trial:
Uncertainty of verdict.
For both you and the insurance company, there is uncertainty about what will happen if a jury decides the case. There is no guarantee what a jury would do even if you have a strong case against the negligent driver. The insurance company knows that it could be required to pay you even more in a jury trial than in settlement. The uncertainty of the outcome often results in the parties to a drunk driving case reaching a settlement, and you probably will too.
The cost of depositions, paying expert witnesses, and trial preparation are extremely expensive. By reaching a fair settlement, you and the insurance company can control the costs and the outcome of your claim. This can make it more beneficial for both sides to reach an agreement.
Value of your claim.
An experienced attorney who has a track record of success in settling and trying these cases will know the value of your claim as will the insurance adjuster for the negligent drunk driver. While there may be disputes about liability or the severity of your injuries, an understanding of what your claim is worth by both sides will help your case be settled either before or during litigation.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, you need to hold the negligent driver accountable. While our experienced legal team settles many of these cases, we are not afraid to take a case to trial if the insurance company will not offer a reasonable settlement. To learn how we can assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
What are my options for compensation if I was drunk and caused a car accident?
While it is always dangerous to drink and drive, you as the drunk driver could also suffer injuries in a crash. You may be off work for months or longer while you recover from your injuries. You may be surprised to discover that you have avenues of compensation that you may not have realized existed.
Your Options for Compensation as a Drunk Driver
While generally a drunk driver will be liable for compensating the victims of an accident, this is not always the case. Just because you were drunk does not mean that this caused your collision. However, you also need to be realistic and accept that you could most likely be found at least partially liable for causing the drunk driving wreck. However, here are possible ways to recover some of your losses:
If the other driver was partially at fault in causing your wreck, such as by also being drunk or texting behind the wheel, he could be responsible for compensating you at least partially. Texas follows the modified comparative negligence doctrine, which means that if a driver is 51 percent or more at fault in causing a wreck, he would be entitled to no compensation. A driver who is 50 percent or less at fault could receive a partial award based on his percentage of fault in causing the wreck. If the other driver was more than 50 percent at fault in causing your injuries, he would not be entitled to any compensation, and you could receive a portion of the compensation you deserve from him based on your percentage of fault.
Your insurance company.
If you purchased additional insurance coverage, such as collision, MedPay, personal injury protection (PIP) for medical bills and lost wages, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company. You could be entitled to this regardless of your fault in causing the wreck.
Dram Shop Claim.
If you were sold alcohol at a bar or restaurant or purchased alcohol at a store when you were obviously intoxicated, the business could be liable for compensating you if you were injured in a drunk driving accident under Texas’ Dram Shop law. However, the business would only face liability for its share of negligence in causing your accident.
Did you suffer injuries in a drunk driving accident caused by you or another driver? Our experienced drunk driving injury team is here to discuss your legal options. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
What happens if I was injured in an auto wreck caused by a drunk driver who had no insurance?
You can suffer life-altering injuries in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. The injustice can be even worse if you discover that he did not have any automobile liability insurance as required under Texas law. While it may seem that you do not have any means to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, this is not necessarily true. Here, we discuss how to pursue a claim when the driver has no insurance.
Avenues of Compensation When the Drunk Driver Has No Insurance
You will need the assistance of an experienced drunk driving attorney to help you identify potential sources of compensation and to negotiate your settlements. Here are possible avenues of compensation to look into:
Uninsured motorist coverage.
If you purchased uninsured motorist coverage under your automobile insurance policy, you can file a claim with your own insurance company. However, you may have to fight to obtain the compensation you are entitled to so it is best to let your attorney negotiate your settlement for you.
The drunk driver who caused your injuries is still liable for compensating you whether or not he had automobile insurance. You can file a lawsuit to obtain a judgment against him. However, most people do not have sufficient money or other assets to pay the amount owed, so you may be receiving small payments over a long period of time or be unable to collect what you are owed.
Business or social host.
If a business, such as a bar or restaurant, continued to allow the drunk driver to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel, the establishment could face liability under Texas’ Dram Shop law. A social host serving alcohol to a minor under 18 years old who caused a drunk driving wreck can also be held accountable.
Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund.
You may be able to file a claim under Texas Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund if the other sources of compensation do not fully pay you what you are owed. However, there is a cap of $50,000 on most claims, and you are only entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other similar expenses.
Were you injured in a drunk driving accident? The experienced drunk driving attorneys at the Hart Law Firm are here to help you pursue your claims against all potentially liable parties. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
What is the statute of limitations in a drunk driving case under Texas’ dram shop and social host laws?
If you were injured in a drunk driving wreck, you may be able to hold more parties than just the drunk driver responsible for compensating you for your injuries. For example, you could have a claim under Texas’ dram shop law against the business who sold alcohol to the driver before he got behind the wheel. If the driver was an intoxicated minor under 18 years old who was served alcohol at a person’s home, that person could face liability under Texas’ social host law. However, in order to pursue these additional avenues of compensation, you will need to comply with an important law—the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Dram Shop and Social Host Laws?
The statute of limitations is the time period you have for filing a lawsuit under Texas law. If you fail to file your civil complaint within this time period, the consequence is severe. You would lose your right to file a lawsuit and your right to compensation for your injuries caused by the drunk driver. Under Texas dram shop and social host laws, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the date of your crash.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
In rare cases, the two-year time period to file a lawsuit is tolled, which means that it is delayed. Under the dram shop law and social host law, the statute of limitations in tolled in these situations:
- The victim is suffering from an unsound mind, which is a major mental defect caused by the wreck that results in him being unable to understand the lawsuit.
- The victim is in the “age of minority”—under 18 years old. This victim would have until he reaches 20 years old to file his lawsuit.
Don’t Delay! Call Our Office Today for Your Free Consultation
If you've been injured by a drunk driver you need to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At the Hart Law Firm, we sue drunk drivers and any other parties who are liable for compensating the victims of a drunk driving accident. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free case evaluation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Can I obtain punitive damages in a drunk driving injury claim?
If you are injured in a car crash caused by a drunk driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. This can include compensating you for the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured from the trauma of the wreck and your injuries. You may also be entitled to punitive damages if you can prove that the drunk driver engaged in gross negligence.
What Is Gross Negligence in Drunk Driving Accident Cases in Texas?
Punitive damages are also called exemplary damages and are awarded to punish the drunk driver, not to compensate you. They are not awarded in every case, and you must prove the driver’s gross negligence to be entitled to this type of damages. Gross negligence is defined in Texas as:
- A conscious and extreme lack of care that puts other motorists at significant risk. It is considered much more serious than a mere lapse in judgement.
- You have the burden of proving that the drunk driver engaged in gross negligence by clear and convincing evidence.
While more challenging to prove than negligence, gross negligence can be established. If you do so, a jury could award you significant punitive damages.
Is There a Cap on the Amount of Punitive Damages You Can Receive?
In Texas, there is a cap on punitive damages for drunk driving injury cases. You are entitled to the greater of these amounts:
- Two times the amount of economic damages, like medical bills and lost wages, not to exceed $750,000
- An amount equal to your noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, that is no greater than $200,000
Were you or a loved one injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver? The experienced drunk driving attorneys at The Hart Law Firm are committed to fighting for the compensation you deserve—including punitive damages. Contact us online or call our office at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We help injured victims of drunk drivers throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
When can a social host face liability for serving alcohol to someone involved in a drunk driving accident?
Texas takes preventing drunk driving very seriously and, like other states, has passed laws to hold those who provide alcohol accountable when a drunk driver causes an accident. Texas Dram Shop law makes bars, restaurants, and other commercial providers of alcohol responsible for compensating victims of drunk driving collisions in certain situations. While this law primarily focuses on those who sell alcohol, it also contains a provision that holds private individuals who provide alcohol to others responsible, but the obligations are more limited.
What Is Texas’ Social Host Law?
A social host law is a law that makes people who allow others to drink alcohol in their homes or other social gatherings responsible when they get behind the wheel and cause a drunk driving accident. Texas’ law is fairly restrictive as it only applies when a minor was served alcohol. Under the law, an adult who is 21 or older is legally liable for injuries caused by an intoxicated minor under 18 years old in these situations:
- The adult was not the minor’s parent, guardian, spouse, or a person granted custody of the minor by a court.
- The adult knowingly served or provided the minor with alcohol that contributed to the minor’s intoxication or allowed the minor to be served with or provided with alcohol on property owned or leased by the adult.
It is sufficient under the law that the social host made the alcohol available to the minor. He did not have to physically provide it to him. A social host can be liable to the minor if he was injured and to victims injured by the minor’s drunk driving.
Were you the victim of a drunk driving accident? You want to hold all possible parties, including a social host, liable to increase the likelihood that you will receive all the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced drunk driving legal team. We help drunk driving victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
What is the Safe Harbor Defense that a business can raise in a claim for compensation under Texas Dram Shop Law?
Under Texas Dram Shop law, a business, such as a bar, restaurant, or liquor store, can be liable for compensating a victim of a drunk driving crash for his injuries. The victim must be able to show that the drunk driver was so obviously intoxicated that he was a danger to himself or others when he was sold the alcohol. In addition, this must have been a proximate cause of the victim’s injuries. A minor under 18 years old who was illegally served alcohol may also have a claim for the injuries that he suffered. However, the business is not without defenses under the Dram Shop Law.
What Is the Safe Harbor Defense?
Unlike other states’ dram shop laws, Texas’ law does not hold a business strictly liable for compensating a victim once it is shown that the drunk driver was served alcohol. Liability must be proven, and the business is only liable for its proportionate share of fault in causing the person’s injuries. In addition, the business can raise the Safe Harbor Defense—also known as the Trained Server Defense—to avoid responsibility to the victim. Under this defense, the bar or restaurant would need to show the following:
- The business requires its employees to attend a Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) approved class to become certified by the Commission.
- The business follows through by making sure its employees take the class and are certified.
- The business cannot directly or indirectly encourage its employees to ignore TABC rules.
Just because a business claims that its employees are certified does not mean that it is true. In some cases, the business does not adequately train employees under the TABC certification program. In other cases, managers or other employees may help a fellow employee cheat on the exit exam.
The experienced legal team at the Hart Law Firm have helped many victims of drunk driving accidents obtain justice and receive the compensation that they deserve. To learn how we can help you if you were hurt in a drunk driving accident, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
What compensation am I entitled to if I am injured by a drunk driver?
Victims of drunk driving crashes can suffer even more devastating injuries or death when a driver chooses to drive when intoxicated. The State of Texas takes drunk driving very seriously both in terms of criminal prosecutions for DWI and civil compensation to the victims of these tragic wrecks. If you were injured due to a drunk driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation and punitive damages for your injuries.
What Types of Compensation Could You Receive in a Drunk Driving Accident?
In any motor vehicle wreck, including when the driver is drunk, you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries. However, you may be entitled to even more compensation when the driver was drunk. You may be able to recover the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses. The drunk driver is responsible for compensating you for your doctor visits, surgery, physical therapy, medications, and any other medical treatments you need. You can also receive reimbursement for assistive tools like a wheelchair or ramp at your home, home health care, and transportation costs if you must travel to receive your treatment.
- Lost wages. You want to include any wages you lost or will lose while you are off work recovering from your injuries as well as benefits, promotions, and other perks of your job that you did not receive. If you will need to make a career change or are permanently disabled due to your injuries, you could be entitled to lost earning capacity damages as well.
- Property damages. These types of damages include the cost to repair your vehicle, replacement cost of property in your vehicle that was damaged, and car rental fees.
- Pain and suffering. You are entitled to compensation for the emotional trauma you suffered due to the wreck and the injuries caused by it. Often, this is a large portion of the compensation you receive. An experienced drunk driving attorney will be able to value this portion of your claim for you.
- Wrongful death. If a family member died as a result of his injuries, you may be entitled to reasonable funeral and burial expenses, lost wages, and medical expenses caused by the crash. In addition, you could receive damages to compensate you for the loss of financial and emotional support of your loved one.
- Exemplary damages. These are also referred to as punitive damages and are awarded to punish the driver if he engaged in gross negligence. Gross negligence can be easier to prove in a drunk driving accident. This amount is capped at two times the amount of the victim’s compensatory damages not to exceed $750,000 and an amount equal to his noneconomic damages, such as for pain and suffering, not to exceed $200,000.
You will need the help of an experienced drunk driving accident attorney if you hope to receive the full value of your claim. He can also ensure that you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash caused by an intoxicated driver, contact us online or call directly at 817.380.488 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.