In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal offense. This offense is taken very seriously and can result in serious consequences, including hefty fines, jail time, and the suspension of your driver’s license. On the other hand, a personal injury claim is a civil matter and is handled differently in the court system.
Personal injury claims involve seeking compensation for physical or emotional injuries that you sustained due to the negligence of another person or entity. While criminal DWI cases and personal injury cases involve driving under the influence, they are handled differently in the legal system.
About a Criminal DWI Case
A criminal DWI (driving while intoxicated) case is a criminal charge brought against an individual for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The state typically brings this charge, which can result in fines, jail time, and a criminal record.
Consequences of a Criminal DWI Arrest in Texas
The consequences of a criminal DWI can vary depending on the state and the severity of the offense. A first-time offender can generally face fines, license suspension, and possible jail time. Repeat offenders may face more severe penalties, including longer jail sentences and mandatory alcohol education programs.
A criminal DWI can also have long-term consequences, such as a criminal record, which can impact employment opportunities and future legal proceedings. Additionally, insurance rates may increase, and some employers may have policies against hiring individuals with a criminal record.
Legal Proceedings for a Criminal DWI
A criminal DWI case is handled in the criminal court system and follows a specific legal process. The individual charged with a DWI will be arraigned, where they will enter a guilty or not guilty plea. A trial will be scheduled if they plead not guilty, and the prosecution will present evidence to prove the individual’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If found guilty, the individual will be sentenced, and the case will be closed. If found not guilty, the case will be dismissed, and the individual will not face any penalties.
Personal Injury DWI Accident Cases
An injury case, also known as a personal injury case, is a civil case brought against an individual for causing harm or injury to another person. The injured party typically brings this type of case and can result in compensation for damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
There are various personal injury claims, including car accidents, slips and falls, and medical malpractice. In the case of a car accident, the injured party may file a claim against the at-fault driver for causing the accident and resulting injuries. If the driver that hit you was drunk, personal injury lawyers call the case a drunk driving accident case or a DWI injury claim.
Legal Proceedings for a DWI Injury Case
An injury case is handled in the civil court system and follows a different legal process than a criminal DWI case. The injured party will file a complaint against the at-fault party, and the defendant can respond to the allegations.
If the case goes to trial, both parties will present evidence and arguments to support their case. The jury or judge will then determine if the defendant is liable for the injuries and, if so, the amount of compensation the injured party is entitled to.
Evidence in a Civil Drunk Driving accident case.
The victim of a drunk driving accident has the burden to prove the case. Usually, the proof is the testimony of:
- A police officer
- Testing medical provider if blood is tested or toxicologists
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Medical doctor and records
- And more.
Differences Between a Criminal DWI Case and an Injury Case
While both a criminal DWI case and an injury case involve driving under the influence, there are significant differences between the two.
Burden of Proof
In a criminal DWI case, the prosecution must prove the individual’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard, and if the prosecution cannot meet it, the individual will be found not guilty.
In an injury case, the burden of proof is lower. The injured party must prove that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence caused the injuries. This is known as the preponderance of evidence standard, which means that the evidence must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable.
The penalties for a criminal DWI case are typically more severe than those for an injury case. In a criminal DWI case, the individual may face fines, jail time, and a criminal record. In an injury case, the defendant may be ordered to pay compensation to the injured party, but they will not face criminal penalties.
As mentioned earlier, a criminal DWI case is handled in the criminal court system, while an injury case is handled in the civil court system. This means that the legal process and procedures are different for each case.
How a Criminal DWI Case Can Impact an Injury Case
If you are facing both a criminal DWI case and an injury case, it’s essential to understand how the outcome of one case can impact the other.
If someone was drunk and behind the wheel, they may be held accountable for punishment damages in Texas. Punishment damages are called exemplary or punitive damages.
If the driver is found guilty of DWI, liability can be much easier to prove as the guilty plea or verdict might be used in the civil case.
Speak with a lawyer for punitive damages if you suspect your case may involve a punitive damage claim.
If the defendant is found guilty in the criminal DWI case, it can strengthen the injured party’s position in settlement negotiations in the civil case. The defendant (or the defendant’s insurance company) may be more willing to settle the injury case for fair value to avoid a trial and the potential for a higher damage award in a civil trial.
If the defendant is found guilty in the criminal DWI case, their insurance company may want to settle the case by the injured person; however, the amount of insurance coverage can be a problem if the liability limits are small. In Texas, the minimum liability coverage is 30,000 per person.
However, if a commercial liability policy provides coverage, the case can be worth substantially more.
Personal Injury DWI Accidents Have a Substantial Value
In conclusion, a criminal DWI case and an injury case are two separate legal proceedings with different consequences and processes. While a criminal DWI case can impact an injury case, it’s essential to understand their differences and how they can impact each other.
If a drunk driver has injured you, you have a special case. Seeking legal counsel is crucial to ensure the best possible outcome for compensation.
Call Baumgartner Law Firm for Help with a DWI Injury Accident
Our drunk driving accident lawyer in Houston, TX, has won millions for victims of drunk drivers. Call for a free consultation. (281) 587-1111.
Baumgartner Law Firm