DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS

Injured by a Drunk Driver?

As Houston drunk driving accident lawyers, we know how dangerous traffic in the city already is. When someone brings alcohol into the mix, the situation becomes disastrous. Everyone who gets behind the wheel has a responsibility to know when enough is enough and stop themselves.

Houston Dram Shop Laws and Third Party Liability

ON YOUR SIDE

Oftentimes, drunk driving cases are not as straightforward as they appear. Through dram shop laws, Houston drunk driving accident attorneys can help you hold providers of alcohol responsible when they serve alcohol to someone already drunk. 

  • Restaurants, bars, and other vendors who serve alcohol to those under the age of 18 
  • Bars, restaurants, and other vendors who provide alcohol to those who are clearly drunk at the level they could present a risk to themselves and others
  • Adults who are social hosts providing alcohol to people under the age of 18

In cases like these, the injuries must be a foreseeable result of the other person’s intoxication. Known as “dram shop” laws, these rules are not always applicable, but our legal team can identify when it’s possible to hold additional parties accountable for your losses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are My Rights as A Drunk Driving Victim?

The state of Texas protects the rights of people who sustain injuries due to someone else’s wrongdoing or negligence. Everyone on the road has a legal duty to drive in reasonable, safe ways. Drunk driving is a clear breach of that duty, one that can have severe consequences for everyone else on the road. 

When a drunk driving accident causes injury to another, the drunk driver is negligent and liable for those injuries and other relevant damages. However, this financial recovery requires a fight. There are essential steps you must take to seek the compensation you deserve, and as ambitious, aggressive Houston drunk driving attorneys, we are the advocates to help you. 

When you hire our legal team as your advocates, we provide guidance on how best to proceed with your case and your rights. 

  • The right to file an insurance claim with the driver’s insurance company 
  • The right to pursue a legal claim in civil court for personal injury

In both of these cases, you have the opportunity to seek compensation for any losses directly resulting from the accident. This can cover a broad spectrum of costs, including medical bills from emergency room visits to physical therapy. Additionally, it has the potential to cover lost wages, including income you missed due to time off work and any future lost earnings impacted by your injury or treatment.

Will I be Awarded Restitution if the Drunk Driver is Convicted?

The criminal judge will typically order restitution to the victims of a drunk driver. However, the amount is usually only a small portion of the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. You can pursue damages from the drunk driver and your insurance policies in a civil claim. In addition, the Texas Crime Victims Fund may assist with paying your damages.

What if the Drunk Driver Has No Insurance and No Assets to Pay for a Judgement?

At AP Law Group, we are known for our aggressive determination to recover the maximum possible compensation for our clients. We pursue every possible insurance policy, including uninsured motorist policies, and can negotiate bill reductions with your medical providers.

I was hit by a drunk driver who was cited for a DUI. Now what?

Though federal and state authorities continue to create stiffer penalties for those convicted of such drunk driving, motorists still drive under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that automobile accidents involving drunk drivers remain one of the leading causes of traffic collisions in the State of Texas.

Inebriated motorists who cause car wrecks are often charged with a criminal offense, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). That said, our team of Houston drunk driving accident lawyers want you to know that you can also take civil actions against these subjects.

The Steps To Take After An Accident Involving A DUI Driver

As your dram shop lawyer, we want you to understand that Texas law stipulates drivers with blood alcohol contents of .08 or higher be apprehended for DUI offenses. Persons operating vehicles under such conditions often drive erratically and dangerously. Additionally, those impacted by collisions with drunk drivers often sustain major property damage, in addition to moderate to severe physical and internal injuries.

That said, in the wake of such incidents, a dram shop lawyer can help Texas residents take certain civil case outcome-boosting actions as soon as they possibly can including:

Seeking Medical Attention

As Houston drunk driving accident lawyers, we implore DUI accident victims to seek medical attention immediately. Even if you do not appear to be seriously injured, it’s vital to seek out medical attention. Major physical or internal problems do not always present themselves right away. Moreover, a significant facet of earning compensation in a civil action is tying one’s injuries to the accident in question.

Consulting With A Dram Shop Lawyer

Injured parties should consult with competent and experienced Houston drunk driving accident lawyers. Our professionals legal team reviews the facts of the case and determines the most appropriate actions.

In an appreciable number of cases, the intoxicated driver is entirely to blame for the offending traffic mishap. However, in a small percentage of examples, the sober motorist might share some fault.

Texas subscribes to a civil law principle called modified comparative negligence. This regulation mandates that plaintiffs in personal injury claims are completely barred from compensation if the court concludes they were 50 percent or more to blame. Moreover, their percentage of total damages awarded will drop by the percentage of blame they are found to hold.

As your dram shop lawyer, we want to reiterate that a solid amount and, quite possibly, all of the fault usually lies with the inebriated motorist. However, if the accident victim committed any type of discernible traffic offense, a judge or jury might assign them some of the blame.

Do Not Jump To Settle

In numerous instances, the accused’s insurer will be quick to settle with the accident victim in an effort to save money and make the matter go away. We often see this as Houston drunk driving accident lawyers and caution clients not to not jump at such offers.

Victims of accidents should avoid immediate settlements because they often don’t cover your full expenses and damages. Once the intoxicated driver either pleads guilty or is convicted, the accident victim’s leverage increases significantly. Moreover, sober motorists not seemingly at any fault could stand to earn far greater compensation by taking the defendant to trial.

Reach Out To The AP Law Group

Drunk driving accidents can leave those victimized injured and facing severe economic distress. Moreover, these cases can bring forth complications and important considerations.

So, residents of Houston and its surrounding suburbs are encouraged to contact AP Law Group. We proudly employ an astute team of personal injury lawyers possessing notable success earning DUI accident victims the compensation they need and deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. 

How impaired must a drunk driver be to be found guilty of DUI?

Among all states in the United States, Texas ranks as number five in the country with drunk driving fatalities. Houston drunk driving accident lawyers warn that the state’s data is disturbing, given that the percentage of adults who report driving under the influence of alcohol is even higher than the national average.

While a drunk driver can be found guilty of driving under the influence, the owner of a “dram shop” or a drinking establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed, such as a bar, inn, or restaurant, can also be held liable. 

According to Section 2.01 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, a dram shop owner can be held liable for damages if such a sale amounted to the victim’s overconsumption of alcohol, leading to his/her injury. It is important to secure a dram shop lawyer for such a case because a dram shop lawsuit is a specialized law field.

We have prepared a series of FAQs to answer the most common questions Houston drunk driving accident lawyers receive:

How impaired would I have to be to be found guilty of a DUI?

You may be surprised to find out that the legal alcohol limit for driving in Texas is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL, which equates to four to five standard drinks. One standard drink is roughly equivalent to 12 fl. oz of beer, 8-9 fl. of malt liquor, 5 fl. oz of wine, or 1.5 fl. oz of distilled spirits or liquor. It is easy to overconsume these drinks because they are usually sold in large mugs or pitchers over good conversations with family and friends.

Alcohol affects every person differently. Generally, women and people with smaller frames become impaired more quickly with less alcohol.

Why is .08 g/dL the legal alcohol limit?

According to research, a BAC of .08 g/dL when driving results in impaired concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability, and impaired perception. Houston drunk driving accident lawyers insist that this BAC level impairs the skills that every driver needs to always maintain good driving on the road.

In dram shop lawsuits, a dram shop lawyer will investigate whether the alcohol provider’s negligence was a proximate cause of the customer’s drunk driving accident or injuries. Suppose the alcohol provider sold alcohol to a person already intoxicated or to a minor. In this case, he or she may be held liable if these customers cause a drunk driving accident. 

A dram shop lawyer should establish these facts through eyewitness accounts or security surveillance footage.

What’s the legal limit for those under 21?

For those under 21 years old, the legal alcohol limit does not apply because there should be no alcohol detected in their system at all, and especially not when driving. Houston drunk driving accident lawyers suggest that schools launch a state-wide information drive on the issue since many young people are unaware of this prohibition.

What are the dram shop laws in Texas?

In all likelihood, you understand how potentially dangerous excessive alcohol consumption can be. When you drink too much, it dulls your nervous system, cognitive functions, and motor skills. While some people believe they can “handle it,” it has the potential for serious and even fatal motor vehicle accidents and other significant adverse incidents.

In recognition of this problem, the State of Texas has adopted strict laws geared towards preventing such events. The AP Law Group, your team of Houston drunk driving accident lawyers, wants you to be aware of specific mandates known as the Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Laws.

Dram Shop Law

A responsible dram shop lawyer seeks to educate the general public about this important legislation. This law, which is part of Texas’s Alcohol and Beverage Code, mandates that any business selling or serving alcohol must not serve or sell said product to anyone demonstrating visible signs of intoxication.

Therefore, if you own or manage an establishment, such as a restaurant, bar, hotel, supermarket, liquor store, or convenience entity and serve or sell alcohol to someone who is already drunk, you could be held liable if they cause any type of injury-inducing accident in the ensuing moments and hours.

Social Host Liability

The social host liability regulation is similar to dram shop legislation. However, the mandate applies to individuals like homeowners or anyone else hosting an event where alcohol is served.

Any respectable dram shop lawyer would implore you to understand that violations of this rule include serving alcohol to someone who is younger than 18, not your child or one held in legal guardianship, and said recipient becomes intoxicated as a result.

Damages An Injured Party May Seek

Houston drunk driving accident lawyers stress that, if you were injured in some type of incident somehow tied to any of the preceding third parties, you might be entitled to compensation.

Intoxication could lead to various irresponsible, reckless, and even aggressive behavior. Such actions might precipitate pain and disability resulting in lost work time, extensive past and future medical expenses, and compensation for damaged property like a vehicle.

Statute Of Limitations

Dram shop or social host liability lawsuits must be filed within two years of the injury-inducing event.

Proving Dram Shop Claims

Any reputable dram shop lawyer will tell you that success in such civil proceedings could prove challenging. Demonstrating guilt on a third party’s part often requires the knowledge and skills of astute Houston drunk driving accident lawyers.

To attain a favorable outcome, your dram shop lawyer will likely take actions such as seeking eyewitness testimony and examining the establishment or individual’s personal or criminal histories. 

Such investigative work could be tedious and somewhat time-consuming for someone trying to recover from an accident. Let us bear that weight for you. 

Schedule a Free Consultation with AP

If you believe your injuries could be attributable to a third party’s negligence, please contact us for a free consultation. The Houston drunk driving accident lawyers employed at the AP Law Group possess extensive experience handling dram shop and social liability cases and look forward to helping you.

What should I do if I'm contacted by the drunk driver's insurance?

A dram shop lawyer urges you to understand the importance of making informed decisions following an accident involving a drunk driver. Making quick or uninformed choices could have a significant impact on the compensation you receive.

One major issue our team of Houston drunk driving accident lawyers believe this circumstance pertains to is dealing with the intoxicated motorist’s insurance company.

The Reason An Insurance Company Might Contact You

As your dram shop law firm, we want to inform you that the accused party’s auto insurer is not necessarily looking out for your best interests. In fact, representatives of said establishment might contact you with designs on arranging a settlement to eliminate the problem as quickly, quietly, and painlessly as it possibly could be for them.

How Should You Respond?

Granted, the prospect of soon cashing a large check could be enticing. However, as professional and reputable Houston drunk driving accident lawyers, we caution you to be careful when faced with this possibility. The actions you take in these moments could work against you should as the case progresses.

That said, as your dram shop lawyer, we encourage you to:

Say Very Little

Houston drunk driving accident lawyers wish to reiterate that insurance companies seek to remit as little compensation as possible. Ergo, they will seek to work any potential angle enabling them to dole out less funds. Therefore, you should never discuss the accident or its aftermath with said subjects.

Listen

Your dram shop lawyer does, however, urge you to listen carefully, write down what you think are key points, and pay close attention to any dollar figures thrown out as potential settlement offers.

Consult With A Team Of Houston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers

You are encouraged to consult with a dram shop lawyer immediately following your accident. This legal professional can review your case’s facts and determine the most optimal strategy.

You might not realize it but drunk drivers might not always bear 100 percent blame in Texas automobile mishaps. The state follows a regulation called modified comparative negligence, which bars you from collecting compensation in civil claims if you were found to be 50 or more at fault. Moreover, your total damages will be reduced by the specific percentage of blame a ruling body assigns you.

Granted, it might be difficult to place a significant degree of blame on you when you have been hit by a drunk driver. However, astute insurance company officials and learned defense attorneys will try.

After getting to the bottom of the case, your lawyer can advise you whether to accept a settlement offer or initiate a civil suit against the party in question. Several factors could play into this choice, such as how badly you were injured, your future medical expenses, and if you will be unable to work for an extended duration.

Schedule a Free Consultation

The team of Houston drunk driving accident lawyers working for the AP Law Group holds extensive experience handling such cases and producing favorable client outcomes. We look forward to doing the same for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Who pays for my medical bills and damage to my car?

According to a CDC report, a whopping 13,138 people were killed in Texas between 2003-2012 due to crashes involving a drunk driver. Houston drunk driving accident lawyers report that even though there are zero-tolerance laws for drivers under 21 years old, most victims are still within the early 20s age group. 

This data shows that the problem does not just lie in the drivers. According to a dram shop lawyer, negligent alcohol providers may also be held liable for selling alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or a minor.

If you are the victim of a drunk driving accident, a qualified lawyer can help you find legal remedies. And if you believe that you were a victim of an alcohol provider’s negligence, you may also seek a dram shop lawyer.

Is Texas a “fault” state?

Texas is a “fault” or “tort-based” state, meaning you can claim for damages from the at-fault driver or his/her insurance company, provided, that you are not more than 50% responsible for causing the accident. Therefore, determining fault is crucial so you are adequately compensated, especially for dram shop lawsuits, so securing a dram shop lawyer is necessary.

Who pays for my medical bills?

From the day of your injury up to the time the claim is granted, you should pay for your own medical bills or have your insurance company pay for them if they cover your injuries. That is why Houston drunk driving accident lawyers emphasize the need to file a claim immediately to get the victim coverage before medical bills accumulate.

If the at-fault driver has medical payment coverage insurance (“med pay”), then med pay will cover the driver’s and the victim’s medical bills up to the maximum policy limit. Beyond the limit, you will have to cover for it unless you file a judicial claim in court.

Who pays for damages to my car?

Since Texas is a fault state, the person who caused the accident will pay for damages to your car. This means that if you are also responsible for the accident, you also have to pay for your share. 

Houston drunk driving accident lawyers emphasize the need to properly ascertain the extent of the fault so that you will not be covering damages when you do not have any fault at all. The driver and his or her insurance company cannot escape liability if you have proof of damages they incurred on you. Proof can include surveillance footage, on-site photos, eyewitness accounts, and police reports.

Who pays for my legal fees?

Many Houston drunk driving accident lawyers are paid on a contingent fee basis. This means that you will only have to pay once the lawyer secures a favorable money outcome for your case. Should you lose the case, you don’t have to pay his or her legal fees. This will ultimately save you from further burdens as you do not have to pay upfront fees.

If an insurance company for a drunk driver wants me to sign some papers so I can get medical care, should I sign them?

The Immediate Aftermath of a Drunk Driving Accident

Imagine driving home from work one Friday evening, your thoughts on enjoying a relaxing weekend when suddenly your car is slammed by a drunk driver. In a split second, your whole life changes.

In the coming days, you may hear from the adjuster for the negligent driver’s insurance company. Chances are good she’ll express concern about your injuries and to demonstrate good faith, she’ll ask you to sign a medical authorization form for the release of your medical records. This, she may say, will help speed up payment. 

Your best advice is to NOT sign it, at least not before you talk with the Houston drunk driving accident lawyers at AP Law Group.

Why a Drunk Driver’s Insurance Company Wants Your Medical Records

While it’s true the insurance company will need your medical information related to your accident, they don’t need a blanket medical authorization for your entire medical history. Unfortunately, what many victims don’t realize is that many of these release forms are worded to obtain exactly that. An insurance adjuster’s primary goal is to mitigate or decrease the insurance company’s losses, and they’ll use your records wherever possible to that end.

For example, if you sustained a neck or back injury as a result of the collision, the drunk driver’s insurance company may look for a previous history of seeking medical attention for a back or neck-related injury on your part and try to cast blame for your current injuries on something that happened before the accident. 

Additionally, while it is not uncommon for injuries to show themselves sometime after an accident occurs, the insurance company may use your words (or lack of them) against you if on your initial visit to the hospital you expressed no complaints about neck or back pain. 

Our Houston drunk driving accident lawyers know all their tricks, and we can make sure your ability to receive full compensation for your losses is protected.

What Is the Texas Dram Shop Act?

The Texas Dram Shop Act holds establishments that serve alcohol responsible for injuries caused by drunk drivers if previous to the accident they served an obviously intoxicated patron. If in your case, the drunk driver who hit you became intoxicated as a result of being unlawfully overserved at a bar or restaurant, you should speak to a dram shop lawyer at AP Law Group. 

It’s also important to do so right away as there is a two-year statute of limitations to file such a case, and a dram shop lawyer will need time to put together a strong case. When you hire the Houston drunk driver accident lawyers at AP Law Group, A dram shop lawyer from our firm will thoroughly investigate the establishment’s role and work to hold them accountable.

How the Houston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers at AP Law Group Can Help

Medical authorization releases aren’t the only documents insurance companies might press you to sign. When you don’t have legal representation, they may also try to take advantage of your naivete by asking you to sign a release of all claims and liability, essentially giving them complete exoneration for your injuries. 

When you hire the Houston drunk driving accident lawyers at AP Law Group, we won’t let that happen. We’ll deal directly with the insurance companies and fight for you every step of the way.

CONTACT THE AP LAW GROUPCall us, E-mail us, or Leave a Message Today

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