Any motor vehicle accident has the potential to be tragic, but those involving impaired drivers can cause catastrophic injuries. Impaired drivers can make serious mistakes, ranging from driving the wrong way on a one-way street to speeding in a reckless manner. Other people can wind up hurt or even killed because of what an impaired or drunk driver does on the road.
For those affected by drunk drivers, there are many options available for justice. The most important thing to understand is that you don't have to choose only one. If Texas has brought charges against the driver, it doesn't mean that you can't also seek justice separately. In fact, a criminal conviction could make a personal injury lawsuit easier.
Victims of drunk drivers have the right to civil and criminal justice
In cases of impaired driving that leaves to injury or death, the state of Texas will typically pursue criminal charges against the person responsible for the crash. The victim or their surviving family members may feel like they received justice simply because charges were brought.
A conviction can be even more emotionally significant, as it means that the person who caused the injury will have consequences, ranging from a fine and suspended license to jail time. However, the conviction of the drunk driver won't necessarily do anything to reduce the impact their criminal act has had on your life.
You may experience ongoing pain due to an injury, financial issues because you can't work or even intense grief because you lost a loved one. A civil lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for injuries and losses caused by the crash.
While it can be difficult to place a price on an injury that causes you constant pain or the loss of someone you love, receiving financial compensation can make it easier to cope in the wake of an accident caused by a drunk driver.
Civil courts have a lower standard for evidence
It is certainly true that those who pursue justice in the civil courts often have success even if the other person eluded arrest or a conviction. The civil courts only require evidence of a person's responsibility for an injury. The criminal courts, on the other hand, require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime.
Instead of hurting your case for a civil suit and justice, a criminal conviction can actually bolster it. After all, it will be an official record that shows the other party is responsible for the losses you suffered. The evidence from the criminal trial will, no doubt, be sufficient to assist with a civil trial as well.
Of course, every situation is unique. It is always a wise move to discuss your rights with a Texas personal injury attorney before you make any major decisions.