Dallas Attorneys for Car Accidents Due to Drugged Driving
The frustration that you may feel after being involved in a car accident can quickly turn to anger when you discover that the driver who hit you was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You deserve to recover compensation when you’ve been injured by someone who decided to drive while intoxicated. But the process of pursuing a legal claim can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you are trying to treat injuries and deal with piling bills. Let The Benton Law Firm take on the responsibility of investigating your claim and preparing an effective legal strategy to get the money you deserve.
If you have been involved in an accident with a drunk or drugged driver, call The Benton Law Firm at (214) 777-7777 or write to us online to set up a free consultation to discuss your case. You’ll speak with a Dallas car accident attorney from our firm about how we can help you demand accountability and justice in your case.
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
Steps to Take after a Drugged Driving Accident
After you have been involved in an accident with a driver that you suspect was intoxicated, steps you need to take to protect your legal rights include:
- Contact law enforcement or call 911 if you believe the other driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- If safe to do so, take photos and video of accident scene details like vehicle damage, marks on the road, traffic controls, and any visible injuries you have.
- Talk to a doctor as soon as possible after the accident to document the injuries that you sustained in the crash
- Preserve any bills or invoices for expenses you incur from the accident
- Consider keeping a journal to document the pain and daily difficulties that you experience because of your injuries and any resulting disabilities
- Do not post anything on social media
Lastly, make time to speak to a Dallas car accident attorney from The Benton Law Firm to discuss the next steps in pursuing your case.
Injuries Commonly Suffered in Drunk or Drugged Driving Accidents
Injuries that victims of DWI accidents can suffer include:
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.
Why Hire The Benton Law Firm after a Car Accident Caused by a Drugged Driver?
When you have been injured in a car accident with an drugged driver, you should not try to pursue a claim for financial compensation and justice on your own. Treating physical and emotional injuries suffered in an accident may leave you with little time and energy. The last thing you’ll want to think about is pursuing a legal case. Filing a car accident claim can seem complicated when you have little or no legal experience. Instead, turn to a seasoned Dallas car accident lawyer from The Benton Law Firm to help you with your drugged driving accident case by:
- Providing experienced legal representation to guide you through Texas laws and ensure that your claims are properly filed
- Calculating the full extent of your expenses and losses to make sure you obtain fair and full financial recovery
- Handling communications with the insurance companies to give you the space you need to recover from your injuries while protecting you against the insurer’s efforts to get you to accept far less than the compensation you deserve
- Vigorously advocating for your rights at the negotiating table and at trial
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
Drugged Driving FAQs
Questions that our clients have asked in the past after being injured in drunk/drugged driving accidents include:
Is a drugged driver automatically at fault for a car accident?
A criminal prosecution of a drugged driver is a separate legal proceeding from any civil claims filed by those injured by the driver. However, a DWI conviction can serve as critical persuasive evidence in a lawsuit. A driver who is convicted of committing a crime or traffic offense during an accident may be found negligent as a matter of law.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Under Texas’s statute of limitations, a lawsuit seeking compensation for losses sustained in a car accident typically must be filed within two years of the crash. A lawsuit that is filed after the statute of limitations has expired can be dismissed by the court for being untimely.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer for a drugged driving accident case?
At The Benton Law Firm, we represent victims of car accidents caused by drugged drivers on a contingency-fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay anything upfront to hire our firm for your case. We are paid legal fees only if we secure compensation for you. That compensation could come through an insurance claim, a negotiated settlement of your case, or by winning a verdict in your favor at trial. If we cannot recover money for you, you don’t have to pay us anything.
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, contact us online or 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.