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Understanding Your Rights as a Passenger in a DWI / DUI Crash

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In the unfortunate event of a vehicle collision involving a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DWI/DUI), passengers find themselves in a precarious situation. The complexities of law surrounding such incidents can be overwhelming, but knowing your rights as a passenger in a DWI accident and the potential avenue for recourse is imperative.

This article by Houston drunk driving accident lawyer Greg Baumgartner aims to shed light on the essential steps and considerations for passengers injured in a DWI/DUI crash, ensuring they are well-informed and prepared to navigate the aftermath.

Your rights as a passenger in a DWI accident

Immediate Actions Post- DWI Crash

Ensuring Safety and Reporting the Incident

First and foremost, prioritize your safety and health. If you can, move to a safe location and get medical help promptly, even if injuries seem minor. These medical records will be crucial. Report the incident to the police as soon as possible. A formal police report is a key document in any legal proceedings that may follow.

Gathering Evidence

If you can do so safely, gather evidence at the scene. Getting vital proof includes taking photographs of the crash site, your injuries, and any damages. Get contact information from the police officers and witnesses, as their observations can significantly bolster your case.

Understanding Your Rights as a Passenger in a DUI Accident

Right to Compensation

As a passenger, you can seek compensation for your injuries from the responsible parties. Responsible persons can include the driver of the vehicle you were in, if their impairment by alcohol or drugs led to the accident, or the driver of another vehicle if they are at fault. In some cases, additional parties may be liable, such as a business that served alcohol to the impaired driver.

Coverage Under Insurance Policies

Passengers may be covered under various insurance coverage, including the driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, medical payments coverage, or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM/ UM) coverage. Understanding the coverage details and the process for filing a claim is crucial.

PIP coverage in Texas reimburses medical expenses and lost wages from the wreck. Medical pay coverage is more limited than PIP in what it covers and requires reimbursement for payments if you collect from others. UIM and UM coverage helps if the negligent driver is uninsured or lacks liability insurance for all of your damages.

Making a Personal Injury Claim

Consulting with a Personal Injury Attorney

Maximizing compensation as a passenger in a DWI/DUI crash can be complex. Consulting with a Houston personal injury attorney specializing in DWI/DUI incidents is highly advisable. We can offer guidance tailored to your situation, help you understand your rights, and outline the best action to seek compensation.

Read More: Real-Life Examples of Drunk Driving Settlements

Understanding Comparative Fault

In some jurisdictions like Texas, the concept of comparative fault may apply, where compensation can be reduced if the passenger is found to have contributed to their own injuries. In a passenger injury case, the defense lawyer may argue that the passenger knew the driver was drunk and was partly at fault for riding in the vehicle.

Getting into a car as a passenger with a driver known to have been drinking can lead to a finding of contributory negligence and reduce the compensation you can receive.

An experienced attorney can help handle these nuances.

Statute of Limitations

Be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Texas. Failing to file a lawsuit within this period can result in losing your right to seek compensation.

Seeking Compensation: The Process

Filing an Insurance Claim

The claims process typically begins with filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Your attorney can assist in compiling the necessary documentation and evidence to support your claim.

Settlement Negotiations

Many personal injury cases like a drunk driving accident are resolved through settlement negotiations. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance companies to reach a fair settlement covering your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Going to Court

If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, your case may proceed to court. Your attorney will represent you in court, presenting evidence and arguing your case for a favorable verdict.

Most DWI accident cases will be settled before a trial because punitive damages may be awarded.

Contact Baumgartner Law Firm if You Were a Passenger in a DWI Accident

Being involved in a DWI/DUI crash as a passenger is a distressing experience, but understanding your rights and the steps to take following the incident can significantly impact the outcome. By taking immediate action, consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney, and following the proper procedures, passengers can navigate the legal complexities and get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey; professional legal assistance is available to guide you every step of the way.

Baumgartner Law Firm

6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069

(281) 587-1111

Related DWI Accident Resources:

How a DWI Charge Impacts a Car Accident Case in Houston

The Average Settlement for a DWI Accident Case Explained

Why You Need a DWI Accident Lawyer After an Alcohol-Related Crash

How a Criminal DWI is Different from a Drunk Driving  Injury Case in Texas?