If a drunk driver caused a car accident in Texas or New Mexico that harmed you or caused the loss of your loved one, the experienced and compassionate drunk driving accident attorneys of The Sloan Firm want to help you. We will protect your rights and seek all compensation you are due.
Our law firm has more than 150 years of combined legal experience, including work on numerous drunk driving accident cases. We know what it takes to hold drunk drivers accountable. Our attorneys always focus on our client’s entire life – including the client’s health, work, relationships and interests – and we seek justice for the specific harm that a drunk driver has done to that life. We see the person behind an injury.
To learn more, contact us today and allow us to provide a free consultation through our offices in Longview, Houston or Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Is Drunk Driving a Problem in Texas?
Sadly, if you were in a crash with a drunk driver, you are far from alone. Every year, drunk drivers impact the lives of thousands of others in Texas, New Mexico and across the country.
In 2015 alone, more than 10,000 people in the United States died in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, or roughly one person every 51 minutes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports. Thirty-eight percent of those killed were passengers in the drunk driver’s car, occupants of another vehicle, bicyclists or pedestrians.
Drunk Driving Statistics in Texas and New Mexico in 2015
- in Texas, alcohol-related crashes claimed 1,000 lives or 28 percent of the state’s total number of traffic fatalities.
- in New Mexico, 120 people died in crashes that involved a driver’s alcohol use. That number represented 40.3 percent of the state’s total traffic accident deaths.
Many efforts are underway to combat the problem of drunk driving. New laws try to make life tougher for first-time and repeat drunk driving offenders. Law enforcement agencies use DWI checkpoints and saturation patrols to catch drunk drivers. And traffic safety officials frequently stage public awareness campaigns such as “Booze It and Lose It” to stop drunk driving.
By taking legal action against a drunk driver who harmed you or a loved one, you can make a difference as well. You can send a message that our communities will not tolerate drunk driving and will hold reckless drivers accountable. Our firm will work closely with you to seek justice and send this message.
What Are Texas and New Mexico Drunk Driving Laws?
The drunk driver involved in your accident may face criminal prosecution. The results of a post-accident breath or blood test will factor heavily in whether prosecutors bring a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or other criminal charge against the driver.
In both Texas and New Mexico, a person can be found guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI) if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Both states set a lower BAC limit for commercial drivers at 0.04 percent.
However, the states differ in their approach to drivers under age 21. In Texas, a driver under that age with any trace of alcohol in his or her system can receive a DWI charge. New Mexico sets the limit at 0.02 percent.
Even without breath or blood test results, prosecutors can still charge a driver with DWI in Texas or New Mexico. They must have evidence that the driver’s physical and mental faculties were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. This evidence may include:
- Smell of alcohol or drugs on the driver’s person
- Slurred speech
- Red, glassy eyes
- Careless or reckless driving, including causing an accident.
Even though a drunk driver may face fines, jail and other penalties, the driver’s criminal prosecution will not compensate you and your family. If you wish to seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering and other losses, you will need to bring a civil claim. You can seek this compensation regardless of whether the driver is convicted of a DWI or other offense.
However, a criminal case may help your personal injury or wrongful death claim. If a police investigation establishes that the driver violated a law that was enacted to protect people like you or your loved one, it will amount to negligence per se. In other words, the driver’s negligence will be established as a matter of law. The focus will then turn to whether the driver’s negligence caused your damages and the amount of your damages.
When you work with The Sloan Firm, we will closely monitor any criminal charges brought against the driver who caused your accident. We can also help you to work with law enforcement officers and prosecutors as they pursue a criminal case against the driver.
In Texas and New Mexico, Can You Sue the Drunk Driver Who Caused Your Crash?
If a drunk driver injured you, The Sloan Firm can help you to bring a personal injury lawsuit directly against that driver. You could pursue a claim if you were hurt as another motorist, a passenger in the drunk driver’s car or as a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian who shared the road with the driver.
We will draw on our extensive experience with these cases, marshal the full extent of our firm’s resources and consult with knowledgeable experts to conduct a thorough investigation of the crash. That investigation may include gathering and analyzing evidence such as:
- Police arrest reports and crash reports
- Breath and/or blood test results
- The driver’s record, including any prior DWI arrests or accidents
- Transcripts from guilty plea hearings or trials
- Eyewitness statements
- Receipts showing when and where the driver got alcohol
- Social media photos and posts.
Generally, our attorneys would seek a recovery of damages through the drunk driver’s auto insurance liability coverage. However, if necessary, we may also turn to your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy or other available insurance coverage in order to seek the maximum amount for you.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against Someone Other Than the Drunk Driver?
In many drunk driving accident lawsuits in Texas and New Mexico, the driver is not the only one who can be held responsible. As part of our investigation of your case, The Sloan Firm will identify any other parties who could be sued for the harm that you have suffered. Those parties could include:
- The drunk driver’s employer – Even though the employer did not act negligently, the employer could still be liable for an auto accident that a negligent employee causes while acting within the scope of his or her employment. For instance, if an intoxicated truck driver making a delivery crashed into you, then you could potentially bring a claim against the driver’s trucking company.
- The vendor that sold or served alcohol to the driver – Under certain conditions, the “dram shop” laws in Texas and New Mexico allow people to bring claims against any vendor who sold or served alcohol to a minor or to an intoxicated person who, in turn, caused their accident. Stores, bars, nightclubs or restaurants are examples of vendors who could face a lawsuit. These claims can be highly complex. They often turn on whether the vendor knew or reasonably should have know that the person was a minor or intoxicated. These claims require experienced and determined legal representation.
- Social host that provided alcohol to the driver – In limited circumstances, both Texas and New Mexico allow claims to be brought against “social hosts” who contribute to alcohol-related accidents. Like dram shop claims, these claims must be carefully litigated by an experienced attorney who will focus on the details.
At The Sloan Firm, we believe it is crucial to identify all potentially liable parties and to explore all potential sources of compensation for those who have been harmed in a drunk driving accident. We believe that our clients deserve nothing less than an exhaustive investigation of their crash.
What Damages Can You Seek in a Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit?
Drunk drivers often cause accidents due to careless and reckless behavior such as speeding, going the wrong way, crossing the center line or driving through a red light or stop sign at an intersection. At The Sloan Firm, we know how these accidents can cause devastating injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal damage, burns, broken bones, soft tissue damage, scarring or disfigurement.
Our attorneys know that we cannot undo the damage that a drunk driver has done to you or your family. However, we will aggressively pursue compensation that can help you to move on with your life, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of income and diminished future earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death damages (including funeral and burial expenses and the loss of your loved one’s financial support and services).
At The Sloan Firm, we see the person behind the injury. We will prepare a claim that takes into account the personal, non-economic losses you have suffered due to your injuries. We will get to know you and your family, and we will learn about the life you enjoyed before a drunk driver harmed you. What matters to you matters to us.
Additionally, we may seek punitive damages on your behalf. These damages will not compensate you for your losses. Instead, they will seek to punish the drunk driver for his or her especially reckless conduct and to deter the driver and others from engaging in similar misconduct in the future.
How Can Our Lawyers Help You After a Drunk Driving Crash in Texas or New Mexico?
The experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers of The Sloan Firm will be committed to pursuing justice for you. If a drunk driver hurt you or a loved one, we will:
- Provide a free and confidential consultation about your case
- Listen closely to you and get a full understanding of how the DUI accident happened and how it has affected your life
- Provide an open and honest assessment of your legal options
- Thoroughly and independently investigate the drunk driving accident, including identifying all parties who should be held responsible
- Consult with highly qualified experts in accident reconstruction, medical treatment, occupational rehabilitation, financial planning and other fields
- Deal with insurance companies on your behalf
- Update you about your case and answer your questions
- Make your case our top priority and give you the highly personalized attention that you deserve during this difficult time
- Pursue a settlement (or multiple settlements) with all parties involved in your case or take your case to court.
Our law firm works with personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis. So, you will pay no legal fees unless we secure a settlement or judgment that benefits you. Our fee will represent a percentage of the financial recovery that we obtain on your behalf.
Our Longview Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Are Ready to Help You
You have limited time after a drunk driving accident to bring a legal claim. In Texas, you must file your claim within two years after the date of the accident (or two years after the date of your loved one’s death). In New Mexico, you have three years from the date of the crash (or three years from the date of death) in which to file a lawsuit.