Drunk Driving Accidents in Texas
Drunk Driving Accidents have caused an untold amount of suffering over the years. Thousands of accidents occur every year for one reason only - because the driver had been drinking.
The law recognizes the unnecessary tragedy caused by drunk driving - and so do the insurance companies. When an accident involves drunk driving, it is usually considered an aggravating factor by juries, and therefore also by the insurance companies. An aggravating factor is an aspect of the case that increases the value of the claim over and above what it would otherwise be, usually some form of outrageous behavior which contributed to the accident.
When someone is injured in a drunk driving accident, criminal penalties will often apply as well as civil damages. The crime is called "intoxication assault," and is classified as a third degree felony. The Texas Penal Code defines intoxication assault as an offense committed by a person who, while operating a motor vehicle (or a boat, plane or amusement ride), causes serious bodily injury to someone due to the intoxication.
Because intoxication assault is a crime, people who are injured in drunk driving accidents are sometimes able to recover at least some of their damages from the Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund. This option is most useful when the drunk driver does not have liability insurance, since the Fund requires recipients to reimburse any payments if and when a settlement is received by the victim.
In some instances, the party that supplied the alcohol, in addition to the drunk driver, can also be held liable for the injured party's damages. This area of the law is known as "dram shop liability."
Under the Texas Dram Shop Act, a person who provides, sells or serves an alcoholic beverage to an individual will also be liable for the damages subsequently caused by that individual IF, at the time, it was apparent to the provider of the alcohol that the individual was obviously intoxicated "to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others" and, the individual's intoxication was the foreseeable cause of the damages suffered.
However, the law also creates a defense to liability for employers if (1) the employer requires its employees to attend a commission approved seller training program, (2) the employee has actually attended such a training program and, (3) the employer has not directly or indirectly encouraged the employee to violate the law regarding selling and serving alcoholic beverages to intoxicated individuals who otherwise fall within the description in the Texas Dram Shop Act.
Learn more about Employer Responsibility for Employee Drunk Driving.
Don't let the insurance company's tactics deprive you of your rights. If you are in Texas and need a drunk driving lawyer, we're here to help.
Call or Email Stephen Johnson for a free initial consultation about your drunk driving personal injury case.