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What are the legal options for victims of drunk drivers in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Car accidents, Personal Injury

Driving under the influence of alcohol in Texas has grave consequences, not only for drunk drivers but also for the people that they inadvertently hurt due to their reckless actions. From the most recent data obtained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a hundred thousand people lost their lives in accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers from 2009 to 2018. Texas had the greatest number of fatalities over all the other states.

These numbers only reflect the deaths. You can just imagine how many people survived and must live with the severe injuries they sustained from accidents caused by drunk drivers. If you are one of those victims, you should know that you have legal options available to help you recover financial relief for the damages you suffered.

Option 1: Pursue a claim against the drunk driver ’s insurance company

Texas requires drivers to have car insurance before they can legally drive in the Lone Star State. If a drunk driver hits you and you have personal injury protection, you can make a claim under your own insurance policy first. The problem is that alcohol-related collisions usually result in catastrophic injuries and damages, which is why Texas also allows victims to file third-party claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. However, insurance companies may use the state’s modified comparative fault rule against you and give you less compensation than you should receive.

Option 2: Pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver

Texas follows a traditional fault-based system, so you also have the option to sue the drunk driver through a personal injury lawsuit. The burden will fall upon you to establish fault. Because the state operates under the rule of modified comparative fault, you might also have to prove they are more responsible for the accident than you are. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you could hold the driver accountable for their actions and make them compensate you for the economic and non-economic damages you suffered.

Option 3: Pursue a dram shop liability lawsuit

If the drunk driver cannot pay from their own pocket and has little or no insurance coverage, then you might have legal grounds to sue the individual or entity who provided the driver with alcohol in the first place. A dram shop liability lawsuit allows victims of drunk driving accidents to file a legal claim against the establishment that sold alcohol to the drunk driver. Although, to be legally responsible for the damages, the driver should have been obviously intoxicated when the bar, restaurant or liquor store served them the alcohol.

You can file a dram shop liability lawsuit alongside other legal claims against the drunk driver or their insurer. The most important thing to remember is to get medical attention immediately and worry about the expenses later.