The choice of some drivers to operate vehicles while impaired has negatively affected many families in Texas over the years. Despite public education and state laws meant to deter this behavior, drunk driving accidents occur far too frequently and the results are often devastating.
If you have personally been injured or lost a loved one in a collision caused by a drunk driver, you may seek compensation for your losses. But who is legally responsible? That will be the topic of this week's column.
Holding the driver responsible
DUI-related accidents, whether they result in injuries or fatalities, can leave victims or their surviving family members hurting in various ways. The losses can seem overwhelming and will have a drastic impact on one's life.
According to the state of Texas, the driver believed responsible for the collision may be held liable for any damages resulting from the crash.
Holding establishments responsible
Those establishments that sell or serve alcoholic beverages may also be legally responsible if their patrons leave and cause auto accidents. Dram shop laws protect the right to file civil claims against such establishments. Dram shop claims can be difficult to prove. Your legal counsel will need to provide the following information to the court in order for a dram shop claim to be successful:
- Proof of sale to the responsible driver
- Proof that sale or serving of alcohol directly contributed to the driver's impairment
- Proof of intoxication
- Proof of injury or death resulting from the crash
Establishments that sell or serve alcohol have a responsibility to ensure their patrons are not over-served and are fit to drive. Those found to have been negligent in this responsibility may have to pay restitution to victims or their surviving family members.
How do I seek compensation for my losses?
Depending on the details of your specific case, there are various legal claims that you may be able to file in a Texas civil court. These include personal injury, dram shop, wrongful death and survival actions. An experienced attorney will be able to assist you in pursing the claims appropriate to your individual circumstances.
Proving fault following drunk driving accidents can be somewhat difficult, though it is possible. Achieving compensation can be a reality if negligence can be successfully.