On December 10, 2017, one woman was killed when her car was struck head-on by a Suburban that had veered into her lane of traffic on Culebra Road. The driver was under the influence. Such stories are unfortunately not unusual on San Antonio roads, and those left behind after crashes of such severity are inevitably both injured and grieving. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a negligent car crash, especially if alcohol is suspected, you may have a claim for your own injuries, and also possibly for wrongful death, as the deceased woman’s husband may choose to pursue.
Wrongful Death and Personal Injury
If you have been injured due to another driver’s actions, you may be able to recover damages to help pay your medical bills. There are four criteria that must be met in a Texas negligence case. You must be able to demonstrate to the court that (1) a duty of care between motorists existed (which is established by law in the Texas Transportation Code); (2) that duty was breached; (3) the breach was directly due to the defendant’s conduct, with no other cause; and (4) because of that breach of duty, you were tangibly injured – not necessarily physically, but in a manner more serious than cuts and bruises or a simple shock. If you can demonstrate these points while showing that you were not more than 51 percent responsible for your own injuries, you will likely be able to recover.
If you have lost a loved one due to the same or similar conduct, you would file an action for wrongful death, in which you cannot recover for your own injuries, but rather for the lost wages, companionship, and assistance of the deceased person. Texas law allows certain specific relations to file such claims, most notably surviving spouses, children and parents of the deceased. Siblings and other close relations may not file such claims, as the law holds that these relationships are not close enough to create a cause of action.
If the Other Driver Was DWI
There may be somewhat unique circumstances if it turns out the other driver involved in your accident was under the influence. While drunk driving or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense, you need not wait for a criminal court to pass judgment before seeking your own compensation. If you call the police, as you should after an accident in which people are injured, you will likely have access to any blood tests or other evidence regarding the driver’s state of mind taken by the responding officer. This evidence can be a great help in your civil suit.
You may also be able to take advantage of a common-law concept referred to as negligence per se, depending on the specific circumstances, to help make proving your case be somewhat easier. Negligence per se is a concept that holds that if someone breaks a law designed to protect a specific class of people, and hurts someone of that class, it is negligent per se – in other words, it is not necessary to prove that the act was negligent; the court will simply hold that it is. Drunk driving laws are enacted to protect pedestrians and other motorists – if someone breaks that law and injures a fellow motorist, duty and breach of duty have already been dealt with. That means that of the four criteria, only causation and damages must be proven, which makes a plaintiff’s job much easier.
Call Our Car Accident Attorneys
If you have been hurt by a drunk driver, you have some options as to how to handle it. If you choose to seek compensation, a knowledgeable attorney on your side can make a huge difference. If you need a fighter to help you get through what can be a scary process, contact the passionate New Braunfels car accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm today. Our attorneys are happy to try and assist you with your case. Call today to set up a consultation.