Several fatalities caused by drunk drivers have occurred in Texas recently. In early January, the driver of a Chevy Silverado hit a stopped car, killing the 70-year-old driver. This was the Silverado driver’s fourth DWI offense, according to sheriff’s deputies. The next day, a driver subsequently charged with intoxication manslaughter drove the wrong way and struck another vehicle head-on, killing the driver.
Can Victims of Drunk Drivers Obtain Compensation?
Being sentenced to jail or prison gets the drunk driver off the streets for a while. Paying serious fines could make them think more carefully before they drive drunk again. However, prison sentences do not really help the loved ones of the victims. They not only lost a spouse or other beloved family member but also no longer have the income and support provided by the victim. They suffered significant emotional trauma and grief. Do they have any recourse under Texas law?
Fortunately, families of drunk driving crash victims can seek compensation for their losses with a wrongful death claim. While the money that could be obtained through this type of lawsuit will not stop the grief and pain, it can reduce the stress and anxiety of having to rebuild a life after the wrongful death of a loved one. It can replace lost income, pay for funeral expenses, and in some cases, punish the drunk driver by awarding punitive damages.
Legal Issues in Drunk Driving Accident Claims
Such cases are not murder trials. Plaintiffs do not have to prove that the defendant intended to kill their loved one. Rather, they need to show only that the driver was intoxicated and that the accident and death occurred because of the driver’s intoxication. Parents, children and siblings of the victim can bring these civil cases. Sometimes, other dependent family members may also be eligible to file claims.
People injured in accidents caused by drunk drivers can also file personal injury claims to help pay their medical bills, replace their lost wages, and compensate them for their suffering. In addition, victims may also be able to recover if the driver who caused the accident drinking in a restaurant or bar. Under the Texas dram shop liability law, restaurants and bars who served alcohol to a visibly drunk customer who later caused an accident could be held liable. There are time limits for filing in both injury and death claims; speak with a lawyer to learn more.
Did a Drunk Driver Change Your Life? Call a Lawyer to Learn What You Can Do.
There are other considerations when thinking about filing a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit after injury or death caused by a drunk driver. Contact our attorneys to learn about your legal rights and options if a drunk driver shattered your life.