Common Causes of Drunk Driving Accidents
Generally, impairment is behind car accidents that are caused by drunk driving. Therefore, it’s important to understand how alcohol affects the human body. According to Alcohol.org, a leading resource on alcohol addiction, the physical manifestations at different blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are:
- From .02 to .05 percent – Your brain and body are affected, and you begin to feel more relaxed and uninhibited. Physical gestures are slightly more exaggerated, and you may have difficulty focusing on objects.
- At .08 percent (the legal limit in Texas) – Impairment starts to visibly affect coordination and balance. Speech is slurred, reaction time slows, and judgement suffers. You might experience blurred vision, along with a decreased ability to avoid obstacles.
- From .10 percent and above – With lack of muscle control, you stumble and may not be able to move arms and legs. Implications for physical, mental, emotional functions affect your ability to walk, let alone drive.
Considering these effects on the human body, it’s easy to see how drunk driving leads to auto collisions. Even at the lowest levels of impairment, you may not be able to safely operate a car. Speeding, erratic lane changes, and weaving result from poor judgment.
Wrong-way drunk driving crashes are a serious problem that can have horrific consequences. In many such incidents, the impaired driver enters a highway through an exit ramp and ends up traveling in the opposite direction of traffic. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 300-400 people are killed every year in wrong way accidents, mainly because the crashes are head-on and at high speeds.
It’s important to note that the drunk driver might not be completely at fault for the crash. If an establishment—or Dram Shop—over serves someone, they could be liable for any damages the drunk driver causes.
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How Many Accidents are Caused by Drunk Driving Every Year?
Every year, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) gathers data on drunk driving collisions in the state and publishes an annual summary on its findings. The statistics for 2017 are disturbing, as are the trends over previous years.
- In 2017, 1,024 victims were killed in drunk driving accidents. This figure represents 28 percent of all fatalities in vehicle collisions across the state.
- That same year, almost 14,000 people were hurt in DUI crashes, with injuries ranging from minor to severe. This number translates to just over 37 injured victims every day.
- In 2017, the riskiest time to be on the road was 2:00-2:59 a.m. on Saturdays. This time period sees the highest number of alcohol-related crashes, as well as the most fatal drunk driving accidents.
Your Rights as a Drunk Driving Accident Victim
Though the other driver’s impairment may be the root cause of a drunk driving crash, your claim as a victim is based upon the legal concept of negligence. You may be entitled to recover compensation if you can prove the four essential elements of a negligence-based case, which include:
- Establishing that the other motorist had a legal duty to exercise care when driving, which applies to all drivers sharing Texas roadways.
- Presenting evidence that the motorist breached this duty by driving drunk.
- Proving there’s a connection between the breach of duty and your accident.
- Showing that you suffered losses due to your injuries.
With drunk driving claims, it would seem that a chemical test or other evidence of impairment would automatically entitle you to compensation. Unfortunately, these matters are not that clear-cut. Your initial step would be filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Insurers are concerned with their own bottom line, so they don’t have your best interests in mind. Despite overwhelming proof that the car accident was caused by drunk driving, you may get pushback. The insurance company may dispute the severity of your injuries or put some of the blame on you.
Drunk driving accident lawyers are very familiar with these tactics, so they know how to respond to denials or low-ball offers on claims.
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Compensation in a Texas Drunk Driving Accident Case
Your monetary damages in a claim involving drunk driving are based upon your losses, measured by how your injuries affect your life. With the assistance of a drunk driving accident attorney, you may be able to recover such compensation as:
These are your ascertainable losses, typically provable by invoices or receipts. Examples include medical bills and lost wages.
Losses in this category are more subjective, since they’re based upon your personal experiences as an injured victim. Non-economic damages may be pain, suffering, emotional distress, losses affecting your relationships with loved ones, and more.