What Are My Rights If I Am Hit By A Drunk Driver?

Know Your Rights if You Were Hit by a Drunk Driver

Criminal defendants’ rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution and Texas criminal laws. However, victims of drunk driving can feel like their rights are an afterthought. Even a conviction for DWI does not often bring financial relief for the victim. Restitution is rarely enough to cover basic bills and often the drunk driver lacks the resources to pay. But you have options for recovering damages and for pursuing justice against the drunk driver who injured you.

Auto accident attorney Bill Berenson is a well-known advocate for drunk driving victims in the Dallas-Fort Worth community. He has a long history of supporting Mothers Against Drunk Driving and serves on the Board of Directors of North Texas MADD. Berenson Injury Law is the Presenting Sponsor of the Walk Like MADD event every year in Fort Worth to help raise funds and awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. We have the experience and determination to protect your rights and empower you to take action in the legal system.

You may be entitled to punitive damages even if the drunk driver is not convicted

Proving impairment gives you the opportunity to pursue punitive damages for the driver’s gross negligence. Punitive damages are intended to punish defendants for their actions and to deter dangerous conduct in the future. The amount of punitive damages may be greater than economic damages, such as lost wages, medical bills, disabilities, and pain and suffering, and can be crucial to your financial security after a debilitating car crash.

Police who have probable cause will arrest the drunk driver at the scene. But what if prosecutors fail to convict the drunk driver or police do not apprehend a hit-and-run driver until he sobers up? You can still prove impairment in your civil case.

Acquittal for drunk driving does not mean the driver is innocent, just that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was impaired and caused the crash. Reasonable doubt is a high standard that applies only in criminal cases.

In a civil case, which is what we handle, you must only prove that the driver was drunk and to blame for the collision by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not. The preponderance of the evidence standard is much less stringent than reasonable doubt. Therefore the evidence may not be strong enough to criminally convict the driver of DWI, but may be sufficient to hold him civilly liable for the drunk driving accident.

Your rights to sue a negligent bar or restaurant

What happens if the driver is uninsured and has few assets? Fortunately, you may have a cause of action against the establishment or person that served alcohol to the drunk driver.

Texas dram shop laws allow drunk driving victims to sue bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and social hosts that serve, sell, or provide alcohol to a person who is so obviously intoxicated that he presents a danger to himself or other people if his intoxication proximately caused an accident. Non-parent adults are also liable for knowingly serving or providing a minor with alcohol or allowing another adult to do so on their premises.

To prove intoxication, our personal injury attorney tracks the driver’s whereabouts throughout the day until he arrived at the defendant establishment. We subpoena receipts from any bar or store where the driver might have bought alcohol to calculate the number of drinks he consumed. We act quickly to obtain surveillance footage, which often tapes over itself in 48 hours to one week, that can show his physical state. In addition, we have often been successful in locating witnesses to testify about the drunk driver’s impairment before being served by the defendant.

Know your rights after a drunk driving accident

You have rights to damages after a drunk driving crash. Fort Worth attorney Bill Berenson advocates for your rights and empowers you to hold the drunk driver accountable for your injuries. Learn more at your free case evaluation where we discuss your rights and options for recovery. Berenson Injury Law handles your case on contingency, so you can pursue your rights without taking a financial risk.

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