Have you been involved in a car accident at the hands of a drunk driver? Drunk driving accidents inflict tragic consequences, disrupting lives and families in an instant. In the wake of these collisions, the need for legal representation becomes paramount.
Not only does legal representation move your drunk driving accident claim forward but the representation of an experienced Texas car accident lawyer also becomes critical in shifting liability to the drunk driver and maximizing your car accident settlement.
Find out more about the importance of legal representation and how attorneys make a difference in maximizing drunk driving settlement amounts. By the end of this article, you’ll understand why you need a lawyer for your drunk driving case and know the ins and outs of claiming your settlement.
Factors Influencing Drunk Driving Lawsuit Settlements
Drunk driving lawsuits are civil lawsuits, meaning that these proceedings take place between two parties — the plaintiff (you, the victim) and the defendant (the at-fault drunk driver).
Because DUI lawsuits are civil lawsuits, defendants must pay settlements if they are found liable for drunk driving accidents.
Settlements are a form of resolution in civil lawsuits. In the case of drunk driving lawsuits, settlements must be sufficient to cover a victim’s losses, be they monetary or psychological.
As mentioned earlier, amounts can vary from person to person. Here are some of the factors that can influence how much you receive following a drunk driving accident.
Injuries and Drunk Driving Settlement Amounts
One of the most common questions victims ask when they file drunk driving lawsuits is how much they can receive in compensation. In truth, settlement amounts depend on several factors.
In Texas, one factor is the severity of injuries. If you’ve sustained traumatic injuries like spinal injuries or soft tissue injuries, you’re likely to have more negotiating power when it comes to your settlement.
You may still claim a significant settlement amount for less life-threatening injuries. However, know that the amount won’t nearly be as high as if you sustained spinal or other debilitating injuries.
Texas’s Modified Comparative Negligence Principle and How It Affects Your Settlement
Another factor that can influence lawsuit settlements is how responsible you and the drunk driver were for the accident.
Texas awards compensation based on the modified comparative negligence principle. This means that for you to claim as much of your compensation as possible, you must prove that the at-fault driver is fully to blame for the accident.
If the courts find that you’re more than 50% at fault for your accident, you forfeit your right to claim damages.
You can’t reasonably file a drunk driving lawsuit if you haven’t proven negligence on the part of the other driver, which is why establishing negligence is key to a successful lawsuit and maximum compensation.
To establish negligence is to prove that the other driver breached a duty of care on the road. In other words, you should prove that the other driver did something no other reasonable driver would do in the same circumstance.
Breaching the duty of care on the road can look like many things, and it can be tricky to figure out how to prove that the other driver is negligent. However, one of the things you can point to is the driver’s BAC (blood alcohol level).
In Texas, a BAC at or above 0.08% indicates intoxicated driving. If you can show that the other driver was at or above the state’s BAC threshold for drunk driving, you’ll have sufficient grounds to file a lawsuit.
Property Damage and Your Potential Settlement
Your potential settlement amount must cover more than your medical expenses and treatments. Besides serious injuries, extensive vehicle damage will also be the result of a drunk-driving collision.
Hence, when calculating your potential settlement, the extent of damage to your vehicle will also be factored in. The more severely damaged your vehicle, the higher your property damage claim can be.
Maximizing Compensation: Pain and Suffering and How It’s Calculated in Texas
Pain and suffering damages are among the most critical damages you can claim following your accident. Not only do the damages compensate you for the psychological and emotional trauma you suffered following the incident, but because it’s a non-economic type of damage, you can maximize your settlement by factoring it into your calculations.
Here are some essential things to know about pain and suffering, what it compensates, and how to calculate it in Texas.
Understanding Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages encompass the emotional and physical distress experienced due to a drunk driving accident, going beyond just medical bills or vehicle repairs. Pain and suffering includes mental anguish, trauma, and the impact on your quality of life.
Maximizing Your Settlement
Pain and suffering can significantly increase the value of a potential settlement. While monetary compensation for medical expenses and lost wages is essential, the emotional toll and impact on daily life matter too.
Showing how the accident affected your ability to enjoy life or caused ongoing emotional distress can strengthen your case.
How Pain and Suffering Is Calculated in Texas
Texas uses various methods to calculate pain and suffering. One that most attorneys and courts recognize is the multiplier method.
The multiplier method works this way:
You take all your economic damages (e.g. medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost wages, etc.) and add them up. You then multiply this number using a number between one to five. The multiplier will be based on the severity of your injuries.
Here are two examples of drunk driving settlements with the multiplier method in effect:
Imagine that your economic damages amounted to $15,000 because of lost wages and extensive surgical treatments for spinal injuries. Due to the severity of your injuries, the judge determines the multiplier for your pain and suffering to be two.
Hence, 2 x $15,000 will equal $30,000, which will be your pain and suffering damages.
Here’s another example.
You incurred a total of $10,000 in vehicle repairs and emergency room treatments. The judge and jury deem your injuries and damages to be extensive, assigning a multiplier of 1.5.
This means that you take $10,000 and multiply it by 1.5. As a result, you get to claim $15,000 in pain and suffering damages.
How Long Does a DUI Settlement Take?
As with drunk driving settlement amounts, DUI timelines depend on a range of factors. Here are some factors that can determine how long it could take before you receive compensation.
Severity of Injuries and Damages
Cases involving severe injuries or substantial property damage may take longer to settle.
The need to assess the full extent of injuries, ongoing medical treatments, and future recovery projections contributes to the settlement timeline.
Insurance Company Cooperation
The willingness of insurance companies involved to negotiate and cooperate can influence settlement timelines. Delays might occur if insurance providers contest liability, undervalue claims, or prolong negotiations.
Legal Proceedings and Court Schedule
If the case escalates to litigation, court schedules and proceedings affect the settlement timeline. Court availability, hearings, and trial dates can extend the time required for resolution.
Statute of Limitations
Meeting the legal deadlines within the statute of limitations is crucial. Failing to settle or file suit within this timeframe might result in losing the right to pursue compensation.
Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer
Navigating the legal process and ensuring you receive fair compensation can be tricky if you go about things alone. For the best possible results, you’ll need representation from an experienced car accident attorney.
Here are several reasons for you to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.
Establishing Liability for Maximum Compensation
Texas awards compensation based on the modified comparative negligence principle. Hence, you must prove that the other driver is fully to blame for you to receive maximum compensation.
A skilled attorney plays a pivotal role in determining fault after a drunk driving accident. Your lawyer meticulously investigates the circumstances surrounding the incident, gathers evidence, reviews police reports, collects witness statements, and examines medical records.
By doing so, your attorney builds a strong case to establish liability. With the other driver fully to blame, you can receive as much as 100% of your calculated settlement amount.
Evidence-Gathering To Strengthen Your Claim
Building a compelling case relies heavily on evidence. A proficient lawyer knows precisely what evidence holds weight in court and how to acquire it.
Car accident lawyers go beyond the obvious, collecting vital information that might otherwise be overlooked. This could involve obtaining surveillance footage, analyzing accident reconstruction reports, or consulting with experts to support your claim.
Accurately Determining Pain and Suffering for Maximum Compensation
Calculating the impact of the accident on your life, particularly the non-economic damages like pain and suffering, requires a thorough knowledge of settlement ceilings and multipliers. This is where a proficient drunk driving accident lawyer comes in.
A lawyer helps assess these intangible losses, considering the emotional distress, trauma, and impact on your daily life. Their expertise aids in accurately valuing these damages and ensuring they are included in your compensation claim.
Negotiating With the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Providers
Negotiating with insurance companies requires finesse. An experienced attorney serves as your advocate in discussions with the at-fault driver’s insurance providers. Attorneys leverage their legal knowledge and negotiation skills to seek fair compensation on your behalf, preventing insurers from undervaluing or denying your claim.
Ensuring Timely Proceedings Within the Texas Statute of Limitations
Legal actions following a drunk driving accident must adhere to specific time constraints set by the state, known as the statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years for vehicle accidents. Within the two years, you should provide a claim notice and file several documents.
Missing the statute of limitations can lead to the forfeiture of your right to seek compensation. A seasoned attorney ensures that all necessary steps, including filing paperwork and meeting legal deadlines, are completed within the stipulated time frame.
Somedrunk driving cases are settled outside the courtroom. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for the possibility of a trial.
When an insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith, it is time to file suit.,A lawyer can represent your interests in court. With an attorney advocating for your rights, you stand your best chance to claim a fair settlement.
Have You Been in a Drunk Driving Accident? Take Action Now
After a drunk driving accident, legal representation becomes your pillar of support. From establishing fault to negotiating fair compensation, our skilled attorneys ensure your rights are protected.
We never settle for less, and neither should you.
If you were involved in a car accident and need advice or representation, view our car accident lawyers page.
1. How Much Are Most Car Accident Settlements?
Car accident settlements vary widely based on factors like the severity of injuries, property damage, and other related losses. There is no fixed amount, as each case is unique.
2. What Are the Chances of Surviving a Drunk Driving Accident?
Surviving a drunk driving accident depends on several factors, including the speed of the vehicles involved, the use of seatbelts, the point of impact, and the presence of safety features in vehicles.
The Texas Department of Transportation records thousands of drunk driving incidents yearly — many of these result in death.