It's a scenario burned into our brains by countless hours of television and film: a drunk driver plows into the vehicle of an unsuspected motorist or runs over a pedestrian who doesn't even realize they are in danger until it is far too late.
It would be wonderful if these kinds of horrific events were confined to TV shows and movies, but unfortunately, they are not. The fact of the matter is that a significant number of crashes — and injuries and fatalities — are caused by impaired drivers every year. Even with all of the cautionary images from popular culture and the education efforts regarding the dangers of driving drunk, many individuals still get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
If you are injured by a drunk driver — or if a loved one is killed in an accident involving an intoxicated driver — you are entitled to collect damages from the responsible party.
From Filing an Insurance Claim to Filing a Lawsuit
The first step if you're injured by a drunk driver is to file a claim with the drunk driver's insurance company (assuming, of course, that they have insurance as required by law). After all, insurance is supposed to cover damages caused by the actions of the person with the insurance. However, insurance companies are for-profit businesses and are therefore likely to try to get you to settle your case for less than you should. They hope to get you to accept a low-ball offer so that they can save money and stay out of court.
To combat this insurance company practice, you need a skilled Houston personal injury attorney at your side who knows how to negotiate aggressively for a fair settlement. In many cases, a lawyer can get you the money you deserve without having to file a lawsuit.
But in some cases, an insurance company may stubbornly refuse to be fair. In those cases, taking them to court is the next step. Your Houston personal injury attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident in question so that they can establish that the drunk driver was negligent — and therefore responsible for compensating you for the consequences of their actions.
Your Houston personal injury attorney's investigation will involve pursuing the details surrounding the incident, including:
- The police report, arresting officer testimony, and/or video from police dash or body cams
- Blood alcohol test results
- Photographs and/or video of the accident and its aftermath
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony from specialists
- Pertinent evidence from the criminal case against the driver (including whether they pleaded guilty)
- Your medical records and other documentation of damages resulting from the accident
Collecting the Full Range of Damages
Some of the damages you may be entitled to are obvious, like the bills for medical care in the immediate aftermath of the accident (including the costs related to ambulance transportation) and the repair or replacement costs for your vehicle. But that is not the full list. Crash-related damages may also include:
- Ongoing and future costs associated with rehabilitation, therapy, or medical procedures/treatments
- Lost wages, including the loss of future income and/or benefits
- Additional out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and its aftermath
- Compensation for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering
- Compensation for wrongful death if a loved one was killed in the accident
If You Have Been Injured by a Drunk Driver in Texas, You Need a Skilled Houston Personal Injury Attorney
It is probably obvious by this point that you should not go it alone when it comes to recovering damages following an accident involving a drunk driver. An insurance company would like nothing better than for you to agree to a quick, small settlement that makes the whole situation go away at a low cost to them. They hope to get to you before you have a lawyer working on your behalf.
Don't let it happen. Instead, contact the lawyers of SJ Injury Attorneys. Our Houston personal injury attorneys have the experience and expertise to negotiate with the insurance company — and to take your case to court if necessary. We'll work vigorously to ensure that you are fairly compensated.