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Drunk drivers are a menace on the roadways. Unfortunately, it is also one of the leading causes of traffic accident deaths in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-impaired driving killed 11,654 people in 2020, an increase of 14% from the previous year. This equates to about 32 people killed in drunk driving accidents nationwide every day, or one person every 45 minutes.
At the Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III & Associates PLLC, we are tough advocates for victims of drunk driving accidents. Our Houston drunk driving accident lawyer, Willie D. Powells III, is committed to holding drunk drivers accountable and recovering the maximum compensation available under the law for the injured.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you need immediate legal assistance. Drunk driving is irresponsible and illegal. We believe that drunk drivers should be held accountable for the injuries and suffering they have caused. You have the right to demand compensation for your losses, and we can help you navigate the complicated legal system to pursue the justice you deserve.
How Does Alcohol Affect Driving Ability?
Alcohol reduces brain function and impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination—abilities essential to operating a motor vehicle. As blood alcohol levels rise, effects on the central nervous system increase.
The weight of alcohol in a certain volume of blood is known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The risk of an accident increases dramatically with a BAC of 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. For this reason, 0.08 is the legal limit in Texas, meaning anyone found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or above can be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Minors, or individuals under the legal drinking age of 21, can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if they are found to have any detectable alcohol in their system, and commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders may face criminal consequences if they are found to be operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or above.
Some of the effects of alcohol on the body include:
- Poor muscle coordination, affecting speech, vision, hearing, balance, etc.
- Reduced reaction time
- More difficulty detecting danger
- Impaired judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory
Because of these effects, impaired drivers are far more likely to cause car accidents than those who drive sober. Drunk driving accidents also tend to have more devastating effects, as well, since impaired drivers often do not brake or attempt to avoid the accident in any way before it happens.
Common Injuries Caused by Drunk Driving
Drunk driving accidents often lead to catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Severe cuts, bruises, and abrasions
- Accidental amputation
- Broken bones/fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Internal bleeding
- Organ and soft tissue damage
- Head, neck, and back injuries
Sadly, many drunk driving accidents are fatal. Even when victims do survive, they are likely to face a lifetime of physical, emotional, and financial challenges as a result of their injuries.
Civil vs. Criminal Actions Against Drunk Drivers
It is against the law in Texas to drive or operate a motor vehicle of any kind, including boats and other watercraft, with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. It is also a crime to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs, regardless of BAC.
In Texas, there are two main drunk driving offenses:
- Driving While Intoxicated: DWI applies to anyone over the age of 20 who operates a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or above, as well as adults in this age group who are found to be impaired by alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle.
- Driving Under the Influence: Minors (people under the age of 21) can be charged with DUI in Texas if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with any detectable trace of alcohol in their system, as well as impairing drugs.
A drunk driver who causes an accident with injuries will likely be arrested and charged with DWI or DUI. This is an entirely separate action from a civil suit to recover compensation, although evidence in the criminal case may be used to support your claim.
If you have been hurt in a crash caused by a drunk driver, it is necessary to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit in court to recover compensation. It is the only way to receive a settlement or award that will cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
If your family member was killed in a drunk driving accident, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the impaired driver. This is a separate civil action from any criminal proceedings, such as a manslaughter case, that may occur against the drunk driver.
Damages Available for a Victim of a Drunk Driving Accident
Drunk driving accidents often lead to severe injuries and considerable financial challenges for victims and their families.
If you are a victim of a drunk driving accident, you may be entitled to the following types of damages:
- Personal injury damages, including medical bills, long-term rehabilitation and care, lost income, pain and suffering, and more
- Property damage, including damage to your vehicle and any other property that was damaged by the accident
- Wrongful death damages if a family member was killed by a drunk driver, which may include funeral expenses, loss of companionship, lost income, and more
Our Houston drunk driving accident attorney at the Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III & Associates PLLC can review the details of your case and determine which types of damages you may be entitled to receive. While we cannot guarantee a specific outcome or value of your claim, we can assure you that we will do everything in our power to maximize your recovery and secure the justice you and your family deserve.
In addition to compensatory damages to cover your losses, the court may award punitive damages if you have been hurt by a drunk driver. Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for grossly negligent or malicious behavior, and to deter similar behavior in the future.
To be awarded punitive damages, you must provide clear and convincing evidence of gross negligence, such as the driver’s intoxication level and behavior before and after the crash.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuits in Texas?
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. In Texas, you have two years from the date of a drunk driving accident to file a lawsuit. However, drunk driving accident insurance claims typically have a shorter time frame.
You may have just a few days to a couple of weeks at most to file your claim with the drunk driver’s insurance company after the car accident. In any case, if you wait too long, you may lose your right to receive compensation.
We encourage you to contact a skilled Houston drunk driving accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident to protect your rights. The Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III & Associates PLLC is ready to stand up for you and fight for the full, fair amount you are owed.
The Texas Dram Shop Act is contained in the Alcoholic Beverage Code, Title 1, Chapter 2. It spells out the liability of establishments that serve alcohol for drunk driving accidents and other personal injury claims arising from the actions of an intoxicated person served in those establishments.
If a bar, restaurant, establishment, or vendor continues to serve a person who is obviously intoxicated, and that person causes a drunk driving accident, the victim may sue the establishment or vendor for damages in addition to bringing a lawsuit against the drunk driver. In other words, you may have a claim against a bar, restaurant, or another establishment or vendor if you were injured by a drunk driver who was overserved.
Our team at the Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III & Associates PLLC can review your case and determine whether you may have a dram shop or social host liability claim. We explore all possible avenues of compensation and leave no stone unturned when it comes to maximizing the value of our clients’ recoveries.
Call Our Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Today
Our Houston DUI accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Willie D. Powells III & Associates PLLC has extensive experience and a history of success handling drunk driving and other motor vehicle accident cases. We will fight tenaciously for your rights and the compensation you deserve if you have been injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver. We offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not owe any attorney fees unless we win your case. We only collect legal fees if we successfully recover a settlement or verdict for you.
Mr. Willie Powells was always available to answer any question or concerns that arose at any time of day or night during the time he was handling my case, as well as after. The Firm has a wonderful staff as well as lawyer(s).- Former Client
Willie Powells represented me a couple years ago when I was rear-ended. His professionalism, compassion and persistence to ensure that I was made whole were exemplary. I trust Willie to always have our family’s welfare in mind while making legal deci- Former Client
Mr. Willie Powells is an amazing business partner and friend. He has been an amazing instrument to me and my family during our disaster of Hurricane Harvey. I recommend him and this law firm to anyone and everyone.- Former Client
They’re very professional and on top of everything. Their service and competence is impeccable and definitely Houston’s best! I highly recommend Mr. Powells law firm to represent you, you won’t be let down.- Former Client
Willie Powells was very responsive to my calls, questions, and concerns. He constantly kept me updated with my case and was able to give me the results I needed. He really cares about his clients! Highly recommended.- Former Client