San Antonio Drunk Driver Accident Attorneys
Drunk Driver Accidents: Working For Maximum Compensation And Justice
If you or a person you love has suffered an injury because of a drunk driver’s negligence, you need an experienced legal team on your side throughout your drunk driving accident claim. A lawyer can gather your medical records and present a claim to the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
If the insurance company refuses to offer you proper compensation for your medical treatment, pain, impairment, and mental anguish, your attorney can file a civil lawsuit against the drunk driver and indirectly against that driver’s auto insurer.
The experienced team of San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm is ready to assist you with every aspect of your personal injury car accident claim or lawsuit. For more information about how we can help and a free case evaluation and consultation, please give us a call at (210) 340-5550, or contact us online.
A Formidable Force For Justice
For more than two decades, Wyatt Law Firm has represented victims of negligence in Texas and across the nation. We have successfully represented people who have been injured by drunk drivers and helped them obtain compensation. Our pursuit of your compensation does not stop with the other driver, however. Bartenders have a responsibility to not over-serve patrons. If they do, they and the establishments that employ them can also be held liable.
We Never Stop Until We Get Results
Our attorneys are relentless in their pursuit of justice and compensation. When you hire us, we will conduct a thorough investigation, document the liability of all responsible parties, and determine the full amount of your financial losses and pain and suffering. Then we will demand maximum compensation and the justice you deserve.
The Impact of Intoxicated or Drugged Driving
Collisions caused by drunk drivers can occur just about anywhere in San Antonio that motor vehicles are present. These areas include interstate highways, such as I-10, I-35, I-37, I-410, and even lesser-traveled back roads. There might be a higher risk of drunk drivers near our city’s entertainment areas, including the River Walk, Sunset Station Historic District, or in any other neighborhood with restaurants, bars, or concert venues.
No matter the location, when drivers get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can cause serious accidents, property damage, and personal injuries to innocent accident victims.
The presence of drugs and alcohol in a driver’s body can significantly impair the driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely and carefully. For starters, alcohol works as a depressant, and a significant amount of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream can impair their central nervous system (CNS) by slowing it down.
When a person consumes a large amount of alcohol, his or her speech can become slurred, the driver’s vision can become blurry, and the driver might not appreciate speed or distance from other objects (and people). A driver’s intoxication by alcohol or drugs might prevent him or her from seeing a stop or yield sign or even another car or motorcycle. Moreover, the driver might not judge safe stopping distances, resulting in a severe impact with another vehicle.
When it comes to vehicle operation, so-called ‘buzzed’ driving is the same thing as drunk driving. In some cases, even after a driver has had just one or two drinks, the driver can still be impaired to such an extent that he or she cannot operate a vehicle safely and carefully while on the roadway.
Texas law recognizes the dangers associated with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Therefore, individuals who operate their vehicles while intoxicated or while under the influence of drugs can be subject to criminal penalties if they are ultimately found guilty or convicted of the charge.
If police officers determine that a person was operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, officers can arrest them for driving under the influence per se. The cutoff for commercial drivers (including commercial truck drivers who operate vehicles for a living) is 0.04 percent. There is effectively a zero-tolerance policy in place for drivers who are under 21 years of age.
If a driver is arrested and found guilty or convicted of a drunk driving offense, they might be looking at severe criminal penalties. Those penalties can include high monetary fines, jail time, mandatory participation in a drunk driving program, mandatory alcohol rehabilitation, and required installation of an ignition interlock device on the driver’s vehicle. In addition, if the drunk driver causes a collision that results in injuries to another driver or passenger, the injured parties can sue the drunk driver (and indirectly the drunk driver’s insurance company) for monetary compensation and damages.
If you or a person you care about has been injured in a drunk driving accident, the skilled team of San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm is here to assist you with every aspect of your drunk driving accident case. We can also pursue a claim for monetary compensation and damages against the drunk driver’s insurance company and seek the damages that you need to feel whole again after your accident. We can also litigate your case in the Texas state court system if that becomes necessary.
Injuries Suffered in San Antonio Drunk Driving Accidents
Drunk driving accidents in San Antonio, especially those that occur at high rates of speed, can lead to very serious injuries. Some drunk driving accidents are head-on collisions, while others involve a T-bone collision or a rear-end impact. When a drunk driver collides with another motor vehicle, the occupants’ bodies can move around inside the vehicle from side to side or forward and backward. The accident victims might also strike a part of their body on something in the vehicle, such as the headrest, steering wheel, dashboard, or console.
A forceful impact can result in traumatic head and brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, or soft tissue injuries. All of these injuries may require the accident victim to go to the hospital after the accident and seek various forms of follow-up medical care and treatment. For example, the accident victim might need to consult with an orthopedic doctor or go to physical therapy regularly. In addition, the accident victim might need to undergo a surgical procedure or some other operation to resolve the condition.
If you have suffered one or more of these injuries in a collision that a drunk driver caused, you must seek out legal representation as soon as possible. The knowledgeable San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyers at the Wyatt Law Firm will see to it that you recover the compensation that you need for the injuries you suffered as a result of the drunk driver’s extreme recklessness and negligence.
Pursuing a Claim Against the Drunk Driver’s Insurance Company
Pursuing a personal injury claim against an intoxicated driver’s auto insurance company is often an uphill battle. The process can be time-consuming, and you will quickly find that insurance companies are not interested in compensating you quickly or fairly. Rather, they are most interested in trying to eliminate the case as cheaply as possible.
After all, the drunk driver’s insurance company has no incentive to offer you full or fair compensation for your injuries since insurance companies often lose a significant amount of money paying these claims. Rather, the insurance company wants to keep as much of its money in-house as possible to distribute to its shareholders.
To present the best possible claim to the insurance company, you must have a knowledgeable San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyer advocating for you at every stage of the personal injury case. Your lawyer can help you assemble all of the necessary documentation for your claim and can file a settlement demand package with the insurance company on your behalf.
Important documents to include in a settlement demand package for a drunk driving accident case include:
- A demand letter that may include a monetary demand for settlement that is within the policy limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
- A copy of the police report, if one was prepared after the accident, that states who is at fault, whether any traffic citations were issued, what those citations were for, and how the accident occurred.
- Copies of all related medical records and bills that show the treatment that you received as a result of injuries suffered in the accident.
- Copies of all lost wage documentation if you are presenting a lost wage claim.
- Photographs that depict the property damage to all vehicles that were involved in the collision.
- Photographs that depict the injuries that you suffered in the accident.
- An impact statement that describes the impact that the accident and all resulting injuries had on your overall life and well-being
In many drunk driving accident cases, especially where the driver was arrested or given a citation for drunk driving, the insurance company may go ahead and admit fault for the accident. When that happens, the main dispute in the case usually centers on monetary damages (the amount that your case is ultimately worth).
Upon receipt of the demand package and assuming that the insurance company accepts liability for the accident, the insurance company will usually make an initial settlement offer on the case. While this initial offer might be significantly less than the full value of the claim, it gets the ball rolling on settlement negotiations.
If, after several rounds of negotiations, the insurance company still refuses to offer you the compensation that you feel you deserve for your car accident injuries, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the drunk driver. Even though your lawyer will name the drunk driver as a defendant in the lawsuit, you will effectively be naming the drunk driver’s insurer.
Just by filing a lawsuit, your lawyer might entice the insurance company to increase its settlement offer. If that does not work, the parties can continue negotiating throughout the discovery process. In the event litigation does not result in a settlement, the parties have the option of taking their case to a jury trial, a neutral third-party mediator, or an arbitrator.
The experienced San Antonio drunk driving accident attorneys at Wyatt Law Firm fully understand the complexities that are associated with filing a personal injury claim and litigating it in the court system. Our legal team will be by your side every step of the way as we field settlement offers, and if necessary, litigate the case on your behalf. If you decide to take your case to trial or arbitration, you can be sure that we will zealously advocate for your legal interests and work to pursue the compensation that you need and deserve for your injuries.
Potential Damages Available in San Antonio Drunk Driving Accident Cases
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, you may pursue monetary compensation from the drunk driver’s insurer. The amounts and types of compensation you may recover depend on how seriously you were injured, the extent of your injuries, and the cost of the medical treatment that you underwent for your injuries. In a drunk driving accident case, you might receive three types of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages compensate accident victims for their medical costs, lost wages, and any out-of-pocket expenses that they had to incur. On the other hand, non-economic damages compensate accident victims for their pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, impairment, and loss of life enjoyment that resulted from injuries they sustained in their accident.
Finally, punitive damages are available to accident victims in cases where the at-fault driver behaved in a particularly egregious manner, such as in a drunk driving accident. Punitive damages aim to penalize the at-fault driver and to discourage other drivers from behaving similarly.
San Antonio Drunk Driving Accident FAQs
An accident with a drunk driver is especially upsetting, as they not only actively broke the law by driving but also intentionally put their lives and yours at risk. If you or a loved one has been in an accident with a drunk driver, you deserve full compensation from that driver. A San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyer from Wyatt Law Firm can ensure that you get the most complete and comprehensive settlement possible for your injuries.
In this FAQ, we will cover some common questions related to being in an accident with a drunk driver and explain how the advocacy of an attorney can help you move through the process with proper support. To discuss your specific situation or concerns, reach out to our firm directly right away.
What types of crashes do drunk drivers cause?
When drivers are under the influence of alcohol, their reaction times naturally slow down, making it more difficult to pay attention to the road. Slower reaction times mean a greater likelihood of being in an accident, as the driver might not slow down or stop when necessary. This often causes rear-end collisions, as a driver might fail to stop in time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of them.
Rear-end crashes are far from the only types of accidents that happen due to drunk drivers.
Some common collisions include:
- T-bone and intersection crashes might happen when a drunk driver fails to stop at a red light or stop sign, hitting another vehicle traveling through the intersection with the right-of-way. T-bones can also happen if a drunk driver makes a left turn without yielding to oncoming traffic.
- Head-on collisions often happen because of drunk driving. This is partly because drunk drivers are more likely than anyone else to turn the wrong way on a one-way street or highway. When this happens, oncoming drivers might not have time to avoid crashing into the drunk driver head-on. These are some of the deadliest drunk driving crashes.
- Rollover accidents are also common with drunk drivers. These can happen when a driver “trips” the vehicle by hitting a curb or overcorrects, throwing the car off balance until it rolls. Because drunk drivers often veer from their lanes, hitting curbs or swerving suddenly are common occurrences.
- Sideswipe crashes can happen when a drunk driver leaves their lane and slams against the side of a car in the adjacent lane. In some cases, the other driver might see the drunk driver veering over, and they might run off the road to avoid a collision. These are also serious accidents, as drivers who run off the road can hit guardrails, streetlights, and other stationary objects.
- Pedestrian accidents commonly happen due to drunk driving. Pedestrians are already difficult to see, especially at night, so drivers always have to pay attention. Drunk drivers have less focus, so it is more likely they will miss a pedestrian and hit them.
The type of crash that happened will often contribute to the severity of your injuries, though all injury victims deserve to recover from a drunk driver, no matter what type of collision occurred. Our legal team handles car accident claims stemming from all types of crashes, and we can evaluate your rights.
If the police arrest a drunk driver, do I still need a lawyer?
If the police arrest a drunk driver, it means the officers had probable cause to believe the driver violated the law. The driver will go to the police station for booking and will likely face criminal charges. However, there is a difference between a criminal charge and a civil case.
In a criminal case, the drunk driver will face charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If the prosecutor can prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt, they can obtain a conviction and sentence of the driver. Sentences might include probation, fines, court costs, driver’s license suspension, or even possible jail time since the driver caused an accident and injuries. Unfortunately, all of these penalties focus on punishing the driver and not on compensating you as an accident victim.
While a guilty verdict in the criminal case might provide helpful evidence for your civil case, it does not automatically move forward a civil case for you. To collect the damages you deserve after your accident, you need to take steps with the right lawyer to file a separate action against the driver. Your attorney can file a claim against the driver’s insurance and/or a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
The civil claim process is complicated, so you always want an experienced San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyer on your side – even if the driver faces criminal charges. If there is a criminal conviction, your lawyer will know how to use it to your advantage in your civil case.
For instance, violation of a safety law that causes injuries is automatic proof of negligence and liability for an accident. Your attorney can follow the criminal DWI matter to determine how that case resolves. Your lawyer can use a conviction of the drunk driver as evidence of liability in your claim, and they will not need to gather other evidence of intoxication and negligence. This can often speed up the process and get the insurance company to fully concede liability much faster than in other car accident claims.
Even if a court convicts the drunk driver who hit you, you still need a civil drunk driving accident lawyer handling your claim as soon as possible.
Do I still have a case without a DWI conviction of the driver?
Not every driver who faces DWI charges will have a conviction. Many skilled DWI defense lawyers can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case to avoid a conviction. You, however, can still proceed—and succeed—with a civil claim, even without a DWI conviction against the liable driver.
The burden of proof is much lower in civil court than in criminal court. Criminal charges need evidence to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard in any U.S. legal case. It can be difficult for a prosecutor to meet this burden of proof, even with strong evidence of DWI.
On the other hand, your attorney needs to prove a civil injury claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means it is more than 50 percent likely that the driver caused the accident. This is the lowest burden of proof in legal cases. This means the same evidence that could not prove criminal DWI charges might easily still prove your injury claim.
If all of this is confusing – it’s okay. This is because it is not your job to decipher the laws, evidence rules, and burdens of proof in various cases. This is the job of your San Antonio drunk driving accident lawyer. Once you have us on your side, you do not have to worry about navigating this complex system of criminal vs. civil cases. We do all of it for you and allow you to focus on your medical treatment and personal matters.
What if there was no criminal case at all?
In some situations, a drunk driver will not face an arrest or criminal charges. You can still have a negligence claim against them, even if they did not face criminal consequences. This can present challenges, especially if the police never arrived at the scene to collect possible evidence of intoxication. However, never assume you cannot seek your losses without a police report or DWI criminal case.
Instead, your lawyer can obtain evidence of the unsafe driving the driver engaged in.
This might include:
- Driving the wrong way
- Failing to stop for traffic or obstacles
- Running a red light
- Veering from an intended lane
All of these are examples of negligent driving, whether or not you have direct proof of impairment by alcohol. The right attorney can gather evidence of liability even without a criminal matter.
What if I cannot work after a drunk driver hits me?
Some drunk driving crashes result in catastrophic injuries that result in long-term effects and impairments. Many impairments can prevent you from doing your job, which causes you to lose your livelihood and financial stability. If you suffer injuries in an accident with a drunk driver and can no longer work, you can recover compensation for not only your lost wages up until you file your claim but also your long-term lost earning ability due to the injury.
Your lawyer might seek future lost income for you if you cannot work at all or have to find a lower-paying job due to your injury-related limitations.
This can require:
- Proof of your total earning potential before your injury
- Analysis of how many working years you would have without injuries
- Any promotions or pay increases that you planned to receive in the future
- Adjustments for inflation and other economic factors
Not surprisingly, this is a complicated calculation, and you cannot afford to get it wrong. If you fail to request enough to cover your future lost income, it can increase your future financial stress. Our law firm has a network of occupational and economic experts who assist with this type of calculation to ensure we seek everything our clients need for the future.
How much can I get for my drunk driving accident claim?
The money that you can get for your drunk driving accident claim will depend on the facts and circumstances of your accident, your injuries, and the damages that you suffered.
Generally speaking, our lawyers can seek financial recovery for any of the following losses that apply in your case:
- Medical bills, including emergency treatment, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, testing, physical therapy and rehabilitation, medications, home health assistance, and more
- Future medical treatment if needed for serious, ongoing, or permanent conditions, such as traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries
- Lost income from missed work and lost future earning abilities (as we discussed above)
- Physical pain and suffering from your injuries
- Emotional trauma, including PTSD from the drunk driving accident
- Permanent impairments, disabilities, or disfigurement resulting from your injuries
Calculating both economic and non-economic losses is a complex process, and you want an experienced injury lawyer to handle this. Otherwise, you risk leaving money on the table and might be responsible for losses that someone else caused.
If you lost a spouse, child, or parent in an accident with a drunk driver, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit and collect damages to compensate you for various losses. This is similar to a personal injury case your loved one would have been eligible to file had they survived the crash.
Some losses your attorney might seek in a wrongful death case include:
- Loss of their financial support and future earnings
- Loss of household services that they would provide
- Loss of love, companionship, and comfort from your loved one
- Mental anguish and pain that your family suffered due to the tragic loss
- Lost inheritance, which would be of greater value had your loved one lived longer
These are challenging cases, both legally and emotionally, so you need the right drunk driving accident attorneys to stand up for your family’s rights and well-being.
Call a San Antonio Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
When people head out to have fun in and around the San Antonio area, they should always be safe when it comes to getting home. When they drive, they put themselves and others at risk of life-changing injuries, and they should be responsible for covering all the economic and non-economic losses of accident victims.
After a crash with a drunk driver, it is natural to feel many emotions. You can feel angry about your injuries and the completely preventable disruptions of your life. However, take steps to protect your legal rights and financial future.
If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, the legal team at the Wyatt Law Firm is here to help. For a free case evaluation and consultation about the services of a San Antonio drunk driving accident attorney, please call us at (210) 340-5550 or contact us online for more information about how we can assist with every aspect of your drunk driving accident claim or lawsuit. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start helping you.
Wyatt Law Firm, PLLC
21 Lynn Batts Lane, Suite 10
San Antonio, Texas 78218