Collisions between motor vehicles is a leading cause of personal injuries in the state of Texas. In addition, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a common offense that goes before local criminal courts. Combining these two facts, impaired driving is a contributing factor to many severe injuries.
Alcohol reduces the function of the brain, impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. All these abilities are essential to operating a vehicle safely. According to the United States Department of Transportation, approximately 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes every day— that’s one person every 50 minutes. In fact, the costs of alcohol-related accidents add up to over $44 billion each year.
Drunk driving is obviously against the law. Even so, proving that another driver was drunk is never definitive proof of total liability. Defendants may argue that your own recklessness contributed to an accident. An experienced auto crash attorney could help to pursue a legal claim for damages following a drunk driving car accident in Houston that leaves no doubt concerning someone else’s fault.
All drivers understand that it is illegal to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Texas Penal Code §12 (B) confirms this fact. Still, criminal cases are solely concerned with punishing people who violate the criminal code. Even if a defendant causes serious harm to others, a court can never order them to provide compensation to victims in a criminal case. These people must pursue a civil demand for compensation that is separate from all criminal charges. This means showing that a driver was to blame for an accident by violating their “duty of care” towards others. A civil lawsuit may be the only way to hold the drunk driver accountable for medical bills, ongoing treatment costs, vehicle damage, lost income, and pain and suffering.
A guilty verdict or plea deal in criminal court can be helpful in a civil claim for financial recovery. A legal concept called res judicata means that a party cannot argue whether a fact occurred twice. As a result, a guilty result in criminal court can transfer to a civil case as proof that a defendant was intoxicated at the time of the incident. A savvy attorney in Houston could help to leverage a criminal conviction into a powerful demand for compensation in a DUI motor vehicle collision case.
A key concept to remember in all accident cases is the idea of comparative negligence. Even if it is clear that a defendant was drunk at the time of the incident, they may argue that a victim was also acting carelessly and that those actions contributed to the wreck. For example, a defendant could introduce evidence that another driver was texting while behind the wheel, failed to signal a turn, or was speeding. If a court assigns a portion of blame for a crash to a victim, that court must reduce the award that it issues at the end of a trial.
Time may also play an important role in drunk driving car crash cases in Houston. Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.003 says that victims of accidents must bring a case to court no more than two years from the date of the incident. However, a case’s presence in criminal court may lengthen this time limit. A diligent lawyer helps to fight back against the defenses that defendants may raise in an attempt to avoid responsibility following a drunk driving collision.
Drunk driving is a prominent cause of serious injuries in the Houston area and throughout the state. Despite the fact that this is illegal, many people make the choice to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can result in collisions that cause not just physical injuries but also harsh emotional trauma and significant financial harm.
Allow a dedicated attorney at Roberts Markland LLP to protect your legal rights after a drunk driving crash in Houston. They can work to show how another driver’s intoxication led to your losses and demand fair compensation from those drivers and their insurance companies. There is a limited time to demand payment, so contact us today.