Getting Hit by a Drunk Driver

drinking and driving

Although it is strange to say that there’s a “best case scenario” with a car accident, we all know that if you are involved in a car accident, you hope for no injuries, a cooperative other driver, and a quick and speedy process to get everything fixed. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. Car accidents are outside of your control, which is why they are called an accident. Similarly, the variables involved are outside your control as well. Sometimes, the injuries might be far more extensive than you realized or wished for. Other times, the insurance might give you the runaround and it could take weeks or months to get a new car.

So, what happens if the accident is caused by a driver who was intoxicated? Your case is different in several ways if you were hit by a drunk driver. Instead of selling yourself short, or not understanding what’s happening in your case, we’ve outlined a few key points for you here.

Safe Driving Limits

In Texas, the legal limit for driving with alcohol in your system is a BAC level of .08%. Everybody is different, but for the average person, that amount can be reached with just a few alcoholic beverages. We get it, sometimes you have one drink too many. Luckily, there are many other options to get you home safe, all while ensuring the safety of everyone else on the road.

Plan Ahead and Find Alternatives

If you know you’re going to be drinking, plan ahead and come up with a solution before you’re intoxicated. Do you have a sober friend who could drive you? Can you catch a ride to your destination? Ride sharing has never been easier. With just a few buttons and a small wait, you can be driven to your destination for a small fee. This is an excellent alternative to drinking and driving.

Know Yourself

The BAC rule exists so authorities have a solid way to confirm if you were over the legal limit while driving, but that shouldn’t negate how you’re feeling. If you think you’re too intoxicated to drive after just one drink, listen to that instinct. The lives of countess others depends on it.

If You’ve Been Hit by a Drunk Driver

It’s not always immediately apparent that someone who hit you was intoxicated, although it might become more obvious the longer you stand at the scene of the accident. The first thing you should always do in any car wreck, is ensure that everyone is okay. From there, you can take several steps to protect yourself if you feel the other driver was drinking. You need to keep in mind that weeks or months later, if you bring up that you believe the driver was drunk to the insurance company, they likely won’t do anything. This is because it’s too late to prove it, and without proof, they don’t have to be responsible for that added recklessness. For that reason, it’s in your best interest to document everything that makes you think they might be under the influence. If you see beer bottles or drug paraphernalia in their car, take photos. If their slurring conversation is suspicious, record them speaking.

Call the Police

If there were injuries, or if you believe the driver who hit you was drunk, you should call the police. Tell the 911 operator about the injuries or about your belief. The best way to make sure the other driver doesn’t get back on the road in their current condition is by involving law enforcement.

Probable Cause Affidavits

Many people don’t know this, but in order to be arrested, the police must create a Probable Cause Affidavit. This means that they found enough proof to suggest that what they arrest someone for is fair and valid. Probable cause is a reasonable basis for believing the crime suspected was committed. For a drunk driving incident, this can include several factors: slurring of words, bloodshot eyes, alcohol containers in the car, among several other tests. The Probable Cause Affidavit will also include any statements the officer had with the driver and with you.

The driver won’t be arrested without this affidavit, so if you suspect something, make sure you verbalize it to the responding police officers.

How Being Hit by a Drunk Driver Impacts your Case

If you were injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, your case is a bit different than someone who was injured by a sober driver.

Punitive Damages

In Texas, you have a legal right to recover your damages if you were in a car accident caused by someone else. But the other driver doesn’t personally pay for your damages. Instead, their insurance company steps in and pays for your damages.

Damages can include medical bills, future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, when you’re in an accident caused by a drunk driver, these damages also include punitive damages.

Punitive damages are damages on top of the economic damages listed above, and punitive damages are designed with the intent to punish the defendant for gross negligence or malice. For this reason, they’re only available in cases where the defendant used outrageous conduct, like driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.

This means that if you were injured in an accident after being hit by a drunk driver, you have more to recover than just your medical bills. Insurance companies don’t want you to know this! They’re hoping you’ll settle your case without involving an attorney and you’ll accept the face value of some medical expenses. That’s why it’s important to know the value of your case.

Defendant at Trial

It is rare that a drunk driving case doesn’t settle prior to filing a lawsuit. This is because the insurance company doesn’t want to put their driver on the stand and allow a jury to hear about how they willfully chose to jeopardize the lives of other drivers on the road. This can be used by your attorney for your own case! You have much more leverage in negotiating higher offers than what your medical bills warrant.

Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help if You’ve Been Hit by a Drunk Driver

If you were injured in a drunk driving accident, or if you suspect that the driver who hit you was drunk but you don’t know what happened once the police arrived, you can always call a personal injury attorney. Located in Austin, Texas, our experienced attorneys offer free consultations so you can go through your options and the facts of your case before ever committing.

Categories: Car Accident