According to Fox San Antonio, a San Antonio police officer was injured in a three car accident at an intersection in the city early this week. Fox reported that authorities discovered a bottle of vodka inside one of the other damaged vehicles, police also reported that the driver of that vehicle had previous DWI warrants. There was no indication whether or not alcohol was a factor in this crash at, but regardless, drunk driving remains a serious problem in the state of Texas. In 2013 over thirteen hundred people were killed in alcohol related accidents within the state. That means almost forty percent of all automobile fatalities involve alcohol. If you have been in an accident with a drunk driver, contact an experienced San Antonio attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
Compensation in DWI accident can be higher
The state of Texas considers drunk driving to be a very serious offense. Not only will there be criminal charges against the driver, but exemplary (punitive) damages are often awarded in civil trials on top of the standard personal injury compensation. Courts will award exemplary damages when negligence rises to the level of gross negligence. Texas defines gross negligence as a negligence that rises to a level beyond a mere momentary lapse of judgment and level of care. Gross negligence is conscious and harmful indifference. The state legislature and courts have repeatedly affirmed that drunk driving frequently meets this higher threshold of extreme and intentional indifference to the safety of others.
Factor Courts Use When Awarding Exemplary Damages In Texas
When considering awarding exemplary damages, a Texas court will weigh the following factors:
- The nature of the specific wrong;
- the conduct involved in committing that wrong;
- the degree to which the person doing the wrong should bear the blame;
- the degree to which the bad conduct goes against public norms;
- and, the net worth of the person doing the wrong.
The court will weigh all of these factors when awarding punitive damages. A factor like the net worth of the driver is relevant because fundamentally punitive damages are about punishment. These damages will be awarded to the victim of the crime, but the amount of the award is based off of the goal of punishing the bad actor. This is to send a message to the community that the grossly negligent action in question is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Texas does not tolerate drunk driving and because of that the state institutes harsh criminal and civil punishments to drunk drivers. There are a lot of factors that go into proving that a drunk driver is responsible for your injuries and there are many factors that go into proving the full extent of your damages. Exemplary damages are just one piece of this complicated puzzle. An attorney experienced with car accidents in Texas understands the nature of these cases and will make sure you collect every bit of legally entitled compensation available to you.
Contact An Experienced San Antonio Personal Injury Attorney
Unfortunately, alcohol related automobile accidents are still a serious problem. If you, or a loved one, has been injured in a crash with a drunk driver in Texas, contact our office so we can discuss your rights and how to protect them.