Dallas Drugged Driving Accident Lawyers
Driving under the influence of legal or illegal drugs that limit your capacity to operate a vehicle is not just unsafe. It’s illegal. If a negligent driver hurt you in a drugged driving accident, you have the right to demand fair compensation. The Benton Law Firm can help you do it.
Drugged driving can cause car accidents that result in severe injuries and fatalities. If you were the victim of a crash caused by a drugged driver, there are options available to pursue compensation. The Benton Law Firm can help you hold the other person liable for their careless actions. You shouldn’t have to pay for the suffering they caused.
Every day, thousands of motorists travel on Dallas roads. They encounter all kinds of hazards that could lead to a crash, but one of the most dangerous is drugged drivers.
When someone gets behind the wheel impaired by drugs, whether prescription or illicit, it can result in serious damage. If the person at fault for your car accident was under the influence of drugs, take immediate legal action. Call The Benton Law Firm at (214) 777-7777 for a free consultation with one of our Dallas drugged driver accident lawyers.
The Legal Definition of Drugged Driving
In Texas, drugged driving occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle without the normal use of their physical or mental abilities. The same laws apply as when someone drives while under the influence of alcohol. Anyone found with a drug, dangerous drug, a controlled substance, or at least two or more of these in their body could face a DWI (driving while intoxicated) charge.
Various drugs interfere with the driving abilities of people who take them. Even if the negligent driver took a medication prescribed by their doctor, they could still be arrested for driving under the influence of the medicine’s side effects increase the risk of a car accident.
A controlled substance is a drug that’s use and distribution are under strict control because there’s a high risk of abuse. It’s illegal to drive with any amount of a controlled substance in your system. They fall under five separate schedules (categories), depending on whether they’re safe for medical use and the abuse risk.
Examples of controlled substances include:
- Methamphetamine (Meth)
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
Although many states throughout the country legalized the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, it’s always illegal to drive with it in your system. In Texas, you could face DWI charges if an officer finds that you’re driving while impaired by the drug.
The active ingredients in marijuana have proven effective at alleviating pain, calming people with anxiety, and aiding in curing some medical problems. Unfortunately, the drug’s side effects can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and cause an accident.
Common side effects include:
- Slowed reaction time
- Altered perception
- Reduced muscle coordination
- Blurry vision
- Increase heart rate
Most people assume drugged driving accidents only occur when someone has illegal substances in their body. If you’ve taken a sedative before, then you should know that prescription medications can cause side effects similar to dangerous drugs like heroin.
It’s illegal to drive while experiencing the effects of any medication your doctor prescribed or that you obtained illegally if the warning label states that you shouldn’t operate a motor vehicle.
Prescription drugs that could impair your driving abilities include the following:
- Cough medicine
Just like controlled substances, OTC medicines can slow a driver’s reaction time and impair their judgment. Certain drugs you can purchase over the counter, such as Benadryl, can create a feeling of intoxication. It’s even more dangerous when combined with other substances like alcohol.
Over-the-counter drugs that could lead to a car accident include:
- Sleep aids
- Cold medicines
- Allergy medication
Seeking Compensation from the Drugged Driver
Under the fault system in Texas, you’re entitled to hold the at-fault driver financially responsible for the resulting damage of a car accident. Typically, their auto insurance company pays a settlement to cover your expenses.
It’s a legal requirement for all drivers to carry liability insurance with minimum limits for bodily injury and property damage. Those limits can reimburse an injured victim’s total damages.
Damages are all losses associated with an accident and injury. When you file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you can seek the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical expenses
- Out of pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional or mental anguish
- Car repair bills
- Loss of quality of life
If you find out that the other motorist doesn’t have liability insurance, you can turn to your insurance company for compensation. UM (uninsured/underinsured motorist) covers a victim’s damages when the at-fault driver doesn’t hold auto insurance or their limits aren’t high enough. You could pursue the following damages in a UM claim:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages and future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle repairs
- Out of pocket expenses
Economic damages refer to an injured party’s expenses. Your lawyer can easily determine a fair settlement amount with evidence of billing statements, invoices, and receipts.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses and are harder to monetize. When an insurance company attempts to come up with an appropriate number, they’ll consider the following factors:
- Type of injury and how serious it is
- Duration of medically necessary treatment
- Length of time it takes to recover
- Total economic damages incurred
- Lost wages associated with the inability to work
- Availability of sufficient medical evidence
- Degree of fault placed on the drugged driver
- If the injury resulted in permanent damage
At The Benton Law Firm, we won’t let you agree to a settlement offer if we think the insurance company’s being cheap. We believe you deserve a full, fair settlement to cover all of your damages.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Punitive Damages
Most people begin with an insurance claim, and if the insurance company denies it or doesn’t provide a fair settlement offer, they move forward with a lawsuit.
There’s a strict deadline you must follow if you want to sue the drugged driver for causing the car accident. That’s known as a statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years. That means you have two years to bring legal action against another party for their negligent acts.
While economic and non-economic damages are available in a claim and lawsuit, punitive damages are only available in a lawsuit under special circumstances. You must prove that the at-fault party acted with negligence, malice, fraud, or willful misconduct to recover punitive damages. Instead of compensating you for your losses, it punishes the other driver and aims to deter similar behavior.
Drugged driving is clearly a form of negligence. To demonstrate their actions were negligent, your attorney will need to provide evidence that shows the following elements existed:
- Duty: They owed you a duty of care to act or not act in a way that prevents you from harm;
- Breach of duty: They breached their duty;
- Cause in fact: If it wasn’t for their actions or inaction, you wouldn’t have gotten hurt;
- Proximate cause: Their breach of duty was the direct cause of your injury; and
- Damages: You incurred damages as a result of the accident.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you lost your loved one in a car accident caused by a drugged driver, you could file a wrongful death claim. According to Texas statute 71.001, wrongful death occurs when one party’s wrongful act, carelessness, unskillfulness, neglect, or default causes another party’s death.
The statute to sue someone for wrongful death compensation in Texas is two years. You must pursue legal action in the civil court system within two years of your loved one’s fatal car crash. There are exceptions to this deadline under special circumstances:
- If your loved one was a minor at the time of their fatal car accident, the clock won’t start until they turn 18 years old.
- If the at-fault driver leaves the state, their absence won’t count towards the two-year time limit. The clock will begin again when they return.
Only a few family members are allowed to file a wrongful death claim, in the below order:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving child
- Surviving parent
If there isn’t a surviving spouse, child, or parent, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may pursue civil action for financial compensation.
The damages you can claim include:
- Loss of companionship, love, society, and comfort provided by the accident victim
- Lost earning capacity due to the deceased’s fatal injury, including what they would have made if they survived
- Physical and emotional suffering they endured before their death
- Lost support, care, services, and advice they would have provided if they were still alive
- Funeral and burial expenses
Contact The Benton Law Firm
Our Dallas drugged driving accident lawyers understand the devastation of this experience. Car accidents are stressful enough, but it’s even worse when you discover the other driver was under the influence of drugs. Their careless actions caused you to suffer. We’ll help you seek a fair financial settlement that covers your damages.
At The Benton Law Firm, we care about the clients we work with and don’t want to add to your financial burden. That’s why we take cases on contingency. There are no upfront fees or costs for legal representation. We don’t collect our legal fees unless we win compensation. If we don’t win, you won’t have to pay us.
If you sustained injuries in a car accident because of a drugged driver, call us at (214) 777-7777. We’ll be happy to discuss the details of your case and advise you of the legal options available so you can move forward with your life.