If you have been hit by a drunk driver, your first instinct may be to sue them. You may be hurt and your vehicle damaged. Before you do, however, consider the easier and sometimes more effective route of an insurance claim. Know your legal options at this difficult time.
Filing a Lawsuit
A lawsuit is one of those options but if you live in a no-fault state, it may be a difficult road to compensation. Personal lawsuits can be difficult to prove in a state that does not assign blame for the accident, so even if the other person was drunk-you will have to prove your case.
Meet with the Other Insurance Company
Another option for you is talking to the other person’s insurance company. If you let the company know that you are going to file a third-party lawsuit for all of your medical and repair bills, you will get their attention. You may be surprised at the generosity of their offer for settlement. Every driver is required to carry a standard of insurance for this very reason, so why not at least talk to their insurance company. The company’s first interest is limiting a payout but a settlement means they don’t have to go to court, which will save money for everyone.
DUI Convictions Means a Strong Case for You
DUI convictions are another thing for you to consider. If the other driver was charged with a DUI-his insurance company is going to do everything possible from keeping that case from going to court. An insurance company with a convicted drunk client does not want to face a jury. Juries are well known for placing high settlements against drunk drivers. If this is the case you are in, it will definitely be worth your while to meet with the insurance company before filing suit.
There are more than 10 states that operate under the “No-fault” premise. If your accident took place in one of these states-your options are more limited. You will need to file with your own Personal Injury Protection to assist you with your medical bills and repairs. However, even in these states, there is a cap on medical coverage and you can seek damages from the other person when you have reached this maximum.
Consider the Options
Any accident is difficult but being hit by a drunk driver is especially traumatic. Before you make any quick decisions, consider your legal options with a local accident attorney in Houston to help you find the best way to ease your losses. You don’t have to pay if a drunk driver caused your accident. The law does protect those who follow the law.
Texas officials and safety advocates are pushing for new approaches to educating teens about the dangers of teenage drunk driving.
Of Texans under age 21 who were killed in traffic crashes in 2009, 185 were drunk themselves or were in a car with a drunk driver.
Texas has a rate of five alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 people. For those under 21, the rate is 2.3 alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 people.
Although teen fatalities caused by drunk drivers in Texas dropped by over 42 percent from 1999 to 2009, the numbers are still unsettling for many. Alcohol is an influential factor in 37 percent of all motor vehicle deaths for teenagers ages 16 to 20.
Public education is important in the effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. There are numerous groups working to educate teens and young people about the realities of drinking and driving. Among these advocates are public safety officials, drunk driving awareness / safety advocate groups, drunk driver injury lawyers and even teenagers who want to make a difference.
Teens Working to End Teenage Drunk Driving
In Houston, a group of teens recognized the dangerous behavior of their peers and came together to send a life-saving, simple message: don’t drink and drive.
Members of the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Houston Police Department recently organized a documentary detailing the stories of victims and survivors of Houston drunk driving. The local officials, who witnessed the blatancy and widespread popularity of underage drinking within their community, felt the message would be more meaningful and relatable if the film was made for teens, by teens.
The group of 13 teens worked hard on creating the documentary. They wrote, produced, edited and interviewed victims and survivors.
Falling Through the Cracks
According to Texas law, a minor found driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system is guilty of DUI, a class “C” misdemeanor. A minor charged with DUI faces up to a $500 fine, a mandatory alcohol awareness education course, community service and driver’s license suspension.
Some safety advocates are concerned that teens are falling through the cracks and that teens struggling with alcohol problems aren’t getting the help they need.
There are more organizations coming to the same realizations — that new approaches to reach teens may be more effective in reducing the number of teens killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes. We applaud those teenagers who had the courage to speak to their own peers about the dangers of teenage drunk driving.