At the Law Firm of Roger "Rocky" Walton, P.C., we handle a lot of drunk driver cases because the damages can run very high. Drunk drivers (DWI) cause more death and destruction than any other kind of driver, although driving while texting (DWT) is close behind. Intoxicated drivers tend to drive very fast and lose control, causing high-speed crashes. They also focus in on tail lights ahead that they think they are following and are actually looking at a stopped car on the shoulder. Police frequently must deal with this danger when citing a motorist or working an accident.
For criminal purposes, "intoxication" is proof of a blood/alcohol level of .08 or greater. In civil law, intoxication is when the physical or mental faculties have been compromised or impaired to any extent. Therefore, even if the blood/alcohol is not enough for criminal prosecution, it may still compromise the physical or mental faculties of the driver and be considered intoxicated.
If a person is driving while intoxicated, it is considered "gross negligence." A finding of gross negligence warrants punitive damages. Punitive or exemplary damages are additional damages that are designed to punish the driver or make an example of him. When the defendant is intoxicated, the jury also tends to be more generous on the other damages involved. However, a claim for underinsured motorist does not allow these extra damages because they would only punish the insurance company since the judgment would be against the insurance company.
I fired my first lawyer and then hired Rocky Walton. It was an entirely different experience. Rocky really knows his stuff and is willing to work hard. - Autumn S.
When the driver is intoxicated, there is also a good chance that a bar or restaurant may be responsible under the Dram Shop Act, if alcohol was served under its liquor license when the person appeared to be obviously intoxicated and a danger to himself and others. It usually takes blood/alcohol levels of about .18 before the person would appear to be obviously intoxicated. However, sometimes the level can be as low as .15. In every drunk driver case with catastrophic injuries, the attorney should promptly investigate a possible Dram Shop case, because many times witnesses are needed to testify about how the drunk appeared. The attorney also needs to quickly determine the bar or restaurant where the drunk was last served and give notice to the establishment to preserve any video of the drunk. If the establishment is given the notice and fails to preserve the video, it is spoliation. That would entitle the plaintiff’s lawyer to a special instruction to the jury that it should assume that the video would have been damaging to the bar or restaurant. The biggest problem in handling a Dram Shop case is that the bar or restaurant may not have “liquor liability coverage.” If that is the case, it is doubtful the plaintiff can recover anything, but can probably put the establishment out of business. In Texas, there is no law requiring Dram Shops to carry this insurance, but there should be. Such a law has been attempted many times by the Texas legislature, but the proposed law does not even make it out of committee. In Texas, the liquor lobby is very strong and makes substantial contributions to the legislators. They know this law would hurt the sale of alcohol.
Injury or death caused by a drunk driver is perhaps the most upsetting, anger-provoking of all kinds of personal injury cases. The thought of an innocent victim suffering catastrophic or fatal injury at the hands of an irresponsible individual can evoke outrage among members of the community.
At Law Firm of Roger "Rocky" Walton, P.C., we aggressively pursue claims against irresponsible drinkers and the bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and stores that improperly sell to or serve them. Although the law can never replace a loved one, it does provide means of recovery for victims.
Contact Roger "Rocky" Walton at (817) 429-4299 or toll-free at (888) 762-5988 to speak with an experienced lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a drunk driving accident in Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and Mansfield, Texas.