Corpus Christi Drunk Driving Accident Injury Law Firm
Whether you’re commuting or taking a weekend drive, it’s easy to get caught up in Corpus Christi’s beautiful beaches and Gulf Coast charm. The scenery makes it easy to drive from here to there, but if you travel at night, drive defensively and stay alert. As in many cities, nighttime is when drunk drivers most often come out.
Some drivers drink and get behind the wheel without acknowledging the dangers. They share the road with careful, sober drivers and sometimes cause collisions. As alcohol limits their ability to think, their driving skills diminish. A drunk driver loses their sense of reason, their reaction time, and their ability to skillfully maneuver a car. While under the influence of alcohol, drivers speed, drive recklessly, and participate in other risky behaviors that can cause major crashes and catastrophic losses. When the person is driving a large truck or commercial vehicle, the force of an accident can easily total a car and fatally injure its occupants.
When someone drinks and chooses to drive, that decision affects everyone around them. A single drunk driving accident has the power to ruin a family’s future. Drivers and their passengers sometimes sustain fatal injuries. Those who recover may be forced to manage lifelong disabilities. When a drunk driver is responsible for these losses, The experienced motor vehicle accident attorneys at the Patel Firm PLLC are there to hold them accountable.
We Believe Drunk Drivers Should Pay for the Damages They Cause
At the Patel Firm, our attorneys handle cases for injured people only. We understand that when a drunk driver crashes into another vehicle, the impact often causes catastrophic injuries that ruin lives. We do everything within our power to hold drunk drivers accountable because we believe they should pay for the damages they cause.
Our attorneys have worked with many families who have been devastated by a drunk driver’s careless actions. We’ve seen injured victims struggle with high-dollar medical bills, expensive recovery efforts, and permanent disabilities that limit their ability to return to work. We understand the law, as well as liability and damage issues. We have committed our experience, resources, and knowledge to the process of recovering the damages our clients need to receive necessary treatment and live a decent life.
Our Law Firm’s Results
The attorneys at Patel Law work to resolve our clients’ cases as quickly as possible. We work efficiently because our attorneys understand the legal and damage complexities inherent to personal injury cases. We believe it’s important to be available when our clients need us, so we encourage potential clients to contact us any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you have an issue that needs immediate attention.
Our founder, Attorney Minesh J. Patel, gained extensive personal injury experience while working with prominent South Texas injury law firms. Senior litigation attorney Justin P. Green also has a strong litigation background and has handled a variety of liability cases in court. Our attorneys put their expertise to work when handling drunk driver accident cases.
We always work for the resolution that is best for our injured clients. Often that means negotiating a case with the defendant or their insurance company representative. We also resolve our clients’ cases in mediation or present evidence at trial when need be.
Each injury case is unique and we can’t guarantee the same results for every injured client, but we always work hard to achieve the best resolution possible in each case.
Drinking and Driving in Texas
Intoxication while driving is a crime in Texas. The Penal Code, Title 10, Chapter 49, §49.01, has an all-inclusive definition of intoxication which covers alcohol and other substances. Under the statute, intoxication includes the use of “alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance.” The description also defines intoxication as having a blood, breath, or urine “alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.” The statute makes several vehicle-related acts a crime if performed while intoxicated. These are:
- §49.02, Public Intoxication
- §49.031, Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle
- §49.04, Driving While Intoxicated
- §49.045, Driving While Intoxicated With a Child Passenger
The Texas Penal Code makes it clear that it’s a crime to mix alcohol and drugs with driving. Yet, each year, the Texas Department of Transportation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Association continue to document eye-opening facts and statistics, such as:
- Every 20 minutes someone in Texas sustains injuries or is killed in an alcohol-related accident.
- In 2018, TDOT documented 7,759 alcohol-related crashes in rural areas and 16,452 alcohol-related crashes in urban areas.
- In 2018, TDOT documented 467 fatal alcohol-related crashes in rural areas and 383 fatal alcohol-related crashes in urban areas.
- 374 Corpus Christi drivers were involved in alcohol-related accidents that caused 5 fatalities, 22 suspected serious injuries, 51 non-incapacitating injuries, 135 possible injuries, and 62 injuries of unknown severity.
- TDOT reports that 88.9 percent of all alcohol-related crashes statewide occur between early evening (6:00 pm) and early morning (6:00 am).
- NHTSA 2017 statistics show that 10,874 drivers were involved in alcohol-related crashes nationally.
- 1,492 intoxicated drivers who fatally injured passengers registered BACs at or above 0.08 percent.
Changing the Legal Response to Intoxication and Driving
The National Transportation Safety Board witnesses, first-hand, the death and destruction caused by alcohol and drug-impaired operators. The agency investigates major transportation accidents across the country. They have issued several recommendations to decrease the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents. These are:
- Provide more driver education;
- Increase high-visibility law enforcement;
- Reduce the legal BAC to 0.05 percent;
- Promote ignition interlock devices; and
- Pass tougher drinking and driving laws.
New Texas DWI Alternatives Hope to Change DWI Habits
The Texas legislature responded to the call for interlock devices by passing HB 3016. The bill amends existing statutes to allow court-ordered ignition interlock devices for first-time DWI offenders. As of September 1, 2019, the law implemented a “deferred adjudication” program. First-time DWI offenders may have an interlock device installed in their vehicles, which prevents the driver from starting a vehicle if they have an illegal BrAC (breath alcohol content).
If an offender’s trial period shows improved habits, the court dismisses the charges. If a first-time offender fails the interlock device trial period, the court issues its guilty verdict on the first case and handles any subsequent DWI arrest as a second offense.
None of that, however, helps people whom drunk drivers injured through their negligent behavior. For help paying for those expenses, call The Patel Firm PLLC today.
Alcohol Impairment Begins at Low Levels
Ignition interlock devices may help some Texas drivers rethink their drinking and driving habits. In Texas, the new law gives them a second chance to stop their dangerous driving behaviors. It restrains drinking and driving to comply with legal limits. Unfortunately, NHSTA research shows that legal BAC levels are still too high. In 2017, 1,837 of alcohol-related fatal crashes involved drivers with levels from 0.01 percent to 0.07 percent. At these levels, drivers show loss of judgment, diminished muscle and visual functioning, reduced coordination, and other impairments.
Drunk Drivers Cause Catastrophic Injuries
When motorists drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their potential for causing catastrophic injuries increases. Alcohol reduces a driver’s ability to control their body and their car. It encourages risky driving behaviors such as speeding and distracted driving. Alcohol can also prevent a driver from registering danger and reacting in time. This combination of behaviors increases the potential for injury for both the impaired driver and other drivers in their vicinity.
A report issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explains how a speeding driver enhances their car’s damage potential by increasing the force upon impact. Speed often causes excessive damage to other cars while simultaneously reducing safety and restraint-system effectiveness.
Some seriously injured victims die at an accident scene. Others live but must endure long-term recoveries, ongoing medical treatment, and financial setbacks due to medical expenses and lost income. Vehicle accidents cause more traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries than any other type of accident. Victims often must live with multiple injuries, such as:
- Full or partial paralysis;
- Disc and spine injuries;
- Internal injuries;
- Severe burns;
- Multiple fractures and crushed bones;
- Traumatic amputations; and
- Fatal injuries.
Who Is Responsible for Drunk Driving Accidents?
A driver who chooses to drink and drive is responsible for the damages they cause. In some cases, other persons or entities share the driver’s liability, potentially including:
- Private passenger vehicle – A driver who chooses to drive drunk is legally responsible for accident-related damages. If the driver doesn’t own the vehicle, the owner may share liability for allowing a problematic driver to use the vehicle.
- Commercial vehicle – A trucker or other commercial vehicle operator is responsible for their own actions, but their employer or the vehicle owner may share liability. The employer is also responsible if a supervisor or owner knew or should have known about an employee’s poor driving history but allowed the driver on the road anyway.
- Bars or social hosts – Under Texas’s Alcoholic Beverage Code, a bar or host is potentially responsible for damages if they serve an obviously intoxicated guest. They may also incur liability when they serve a person under age 21.
A settlement for damages in Texas can include economic damages, non-economic damages, wrongful death damages, and sometimes punitive damages.
Economic damages reimburse an injured victim for the costs of out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. A settlement includes the cost of incurred and future expenses. An economic damage settlement often includes:
- Medical bills;
- Hospital and rehabilitation costs;
- Lost income;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Prosthetic and assistive devices;
- Therapy expenses;
- Medical transportation costs;
- Replacement services;
- Plastic surgery and scar revision; and/or
- Funeral and burial expenses.
A non-economic settlement attempts to place a dollar value on an injured person’s emotional or psychological injuries. These may include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Diminished family and spousal relationships;
- Loss of bodily functions;
- Permanent scars;
- Permanent disabilities; and/or
- Lifestyle changes.
Wrongful Death Damages
When a drunk driver causes fatal injuries, the deceased person’s spouse, children, and parents may file a wrongful death action for emotional losses, financial support, gifts, and services the deceased would have provided throughout their lifetime.
Heirs, legal representatives, and the deceased person’s estate have a legal right to file a Survival action. This allows the family to recover medical expenses, pain, suffering, and other damages owed to the deceased person for expenses and losses incurred after an accident and before death. A wrongful death attorney would help you determine the value of your claim and any other precise details you may have about filing a claim.
Texas juries sometimes award punitive damages. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant was grossly negligent in causing the injuries.
How Do the Responsible Parties Defend Their Actions?
Drunk drivers are legally responsible for the damages they cause but those damages are usually covered by an insurance company. When an insurance company negotiates, they attempt to every case as economically as possible. They sometimes push a case toward trial, believing that a plaintiff will settle for a lower figure rather than incur discovery and trial costs.
Settlement problems also arise when an intoxicated driver has a low limit policy. This is often the case as people with bad driving histories often opt for an inexpensive policy with state minimum limits. Texas requires that drivers purchase policies with a $30,000 bodily injury liability limit per person, $60,000 per accident and a $25,000 property damage liability limit.
With a commercial vehicle, policy limits are rarely a factor. State, federal, and local governments require that commercial entities insure their vehicles with larger liability limits than personal vehicles. But commercial defendants and their insurance companies still push plaintiffs to settle for low dollar amounts. When commercial entities self-insure, any negotiated settlement costs come from their business assets. This also often motivates them to negotiate conservatively.
Some defendants and their insurance companies defend cases through trial. They sometimes believe that if they plead the right affirmative defenses, a judge or jury will award a smaller damage amount than the plaintiffs demand.
We Prepare Our Cases to Win
At the Patel Firm, we begin preparing our cases for possible trial during the early investigative stages. We continue evaluating and analyzing all aspects of liability and damages until we’ve resolved the issues and settled our clients’ cases. Our firm’s strengths allow us to stand up to legal challenges and defense strategies. We always prepare our cases to win.
Call Our Corpus Christi Drunk Driving Accident Injury Attorneys
If you or a family member has sustained injuries in an accident with an intoxicated driver, it’s important to take steps to protect your rights. The Patel Firm has recovered damages for many clients in Corpus Christi and throughout Texas. We’d like the opportunity to do the same for you. Call the Patel Firm at (361) 400-2036 or complete our contact form. We’ll schedule a free consultation, learn more about your case, and determine if we can help you.