Drunk driving accidents FAQs
Dallas-Fort Worth auto accident attorney Bill Berenson is a strong advocate for the rights of drunk driving victims. He has written on the topic and has given speeches at alcohol awareness events. Berenson Injury Law supports Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and is a sponsor at the annual Walk Like MADD in Fort Worth.
Most importantly of all, we are skilled, supportive, compassionate and aggressive advocates for our clients who have been injured by drunk drivers and of families whose loved ones were killed in these senseless crashes.
If you were injured by a drunk driver, we know you have a lot of questions. Please read our frequently asked questions and call our office for your free consultation to learn more.
- Why are there two trials (criminal and civil) in my DWI accident case?
- Will I be awarded restitution if the drunk driver is convicted?
- If the driver was acquitted of DWI, does that mean I cannot sue him or her?
- Isn’t the fact that the driver was intoxicated enough to prove he or she is at fault for the crash?
- Can a driver be held responsible for a crash while he or she was on prescription medications?
- What is the advantage to pursuing my drunk driving accident civil claim early?
- Can I also pursue the bar that served the impaired driver?
- What damages am I entitled to in a civil drunk driving claim?
- What if the drunk driver has no auto insurance and no assets with which to pay for a judgment?
- What if I cannot afford an auto accident lawyer?
1. Why are there two separate trials in my DWI accident case?
The County’s District Attorney’s office prosecutes the drunk driver in criminal court to reach a conviction that may result in jail, fines, probation and other criminal penalties. You may also bring a separate lawsuit in civil court to recover damages for your injuries and property damages, but many cases can be settled for the drunk driver’s automobile liability limits out of court.
2. 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.
3. If the driver was acquitted of DWI, does that mean I cannot sue him or her?
Regardless of the outcome of the criminal trial, you can still sue the drunk driver in civil court and have a much better chance of prevailing. The prosecutor in a criminal case has the very high burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The plaintiff in a civil case must only show that the drunk driver was liable by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not.
4. Isn’t the fact that the driver was intoxicated enough to prove he or she is at fault for the crash?
Intoxication is a crucial factor in an auto accident claim and generally the central theory in a civil lawsuit involving a drunk driver. However the defense may attempt to show that the driver was not drunk, that intoxication did not contribute to the crash, or that the plaintiff was more than 50 percent responsible for the crash. In Texas, your damages are reduced by your percentage of liability, so you should be fully prepared to prove your case.
5. Can a driver be held responsible for a crash while he or she was on prescription medications?
You may have a valid claim against a driver impaired by legal medications even if the District Attorney’s Office does not file criminal charges.
6. What is the advantage to pursuing my drunk driving accident civil claim early?
Insurance companies are usually reluctant to take drunk driving claims to trial and have incentive to settle quickly. Our attorney uses this position to our advantage to recover your maximum possible damages
7. Can I also pursue the bar that served the impaired driver?
You may have a “dram shop case” against the restaurant, bar, nightclub or other establishment that continued to serve an obviously intoxicated driver who ran into you. A dram was like a shot in England hundreds of years ago.
8. What damages am I entitled to in a civil drunk driving claim?
You may be entitled to economic damages, including medical bills, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, disability and pain and suffering. We may also pursue punitive damages for the drunk driver’s gross negligence.
9. What if the drunk driver has no auto insurance and no assets with which to pay for a judgment?
Berenson Injury Law is 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.
10. What if I cannot afford an auto accident lawyer?
The payment policies at Berenson Injury Law make our services accessible to all clients. First, your initial consultation is free so you can learn more about your options for pursuing damages. Once you retain our firm, we handle your claim on contingency, meaning we do not charge you for attorneys’ fees until we win damages for you.