If you are in a car crash in Dallas or somewhere else in Texas, then you are going to be able to collect damages if the other driver was at fault. However, if the other party was negligent, then you are likely to be able to get additional punitive damages. This is because their behavior was reckless and therefore additional penalties are needed to discourage others from committing similar acts.
One good example of this is if the other driver was texting or making a mobile call without using a hands-free set. There is strong evidence that this distracts drivers, and makes it more likely for them to be involved in a crash. In most of Texas, it isn’t illegal to text while you are driving, but this does not stop you proceeding with a civil suit against the driver. Texas is fairly unique in not legislating against texting while driving – 41 other states have laws against this – but opinion there is on your side, so you are likely to get a sympathetic hearing in court, especially if you hire a good Dallas car wreck attorney.
Drinking while in charge of the vehicle, or DWI, is another good example of negligence – in fact, it is probably the most egregious one. In Texas, as in all other US states, being drunk behind the wheel is a criminal offense, provided that you are above the legal limit – which is 0.8 in Texas. However, what perhaps sets Texas apart is the severity of the penalties – for example, if you are caught and convicted for the third time, then you can spend up to 10 years in jail. Nevertheless, just because the driver who hit you faces criminal charges, this doesn’t mean that you can’t proceed with a civil case against them. There is no connection between the two, other than that a criminal conviction against the driver is likely to weigh in your favor in the civil case.
If you find out that the driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance or money to pay damages – which can be significant because of the negligence involved – then you still may have another way to get your money. Texas has something known as dramshop laws, which make it illegal for anyone to sell alcohol to someone who appears intoxicated. If they have, and there are reliable witnesses who will testify to this, then you can sue the bar or restaurant who served the driver. However, under Texas law, there are ways that establishments can protect themselves from being sued under the dram shop laws, so you need expert legal advice before you go down this path.
It’s worth remembering that negligence does not stop with using a cell phone or being drunk at the wheel. There are many other examples, such as driving a car recklessly or overloading a truck so that it goes out of control. In these types of circumstances, you may even be able to sue the driver’s employer if they were involved in the negligence.