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DWI and Compensation Laws

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In Texas, all drivers legally must have proof of financial responsibility for any accidents or damages they may cause. For most, this means having insurance for themselves and their vehicles. However, certain situations can make finding proper insurance extremely difficult. Getting into an accident, for example, even if you weren’t at fault, can cause your premium to go up. And if you were at fault, or worse yet, driving illegally, your insurance company could decide to drop you altogether. Working with a DWI lawyer can help you determine how much you’re financially responsible for after a DWI accident and how to get continuing coverage moving forward.

What is a DWI Charge?

In Texas, many people may use the terms DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence) interchangeably. However, they are different charges with varying penalties. A DWI charge applies to drivers over the age of 21 who have a Blood Alcohol Content level above 0.08. You can face DWI charges even if there was no accident, and police simply pulled you over for a breathalyzer test.

Your first two DWI charges are misdemeanors but still carry heavy penalties. Any consecutive DWI charges are felonies, resulting in far harsher punishments. If you cause an accident while driving intoxicated, the charge will also be a felony if there is any injury or death to other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. This is the case regardless of whether it’s your first, second, or third conviction.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Driving while intoxicated is a serious offense with harsh penalties. However, just because a driver was intoxicated does not mean they automatically responsible for any accident. A DWI lawyer can help you determine what percentage of fault you carry for an accident. They can also tell you how that affects your financial situation.

Texas follows modified comparative negligence laws when considering compensation for an accident. In the case of an accident, a judge will review all the evidence. They will determine the percentage of fault each driver involved shares in the accident. Any driver who is less than 50% at fault can get compensation from either the at-fault drivers or their insurance. However, the amount of compensation they can receive is determined by their own fault percentage.

For example, say you were driving while under the influence and swerved into a neighboring lane, colliding with another car, and the cost of their damage is $1000. If you are 100% at fault, the other driver could file with your insurance (or sue you if you are uninsured) for the full $1000. However, if the other driver was texting on their phone at the time, your lawyer could argue that they were not paying attention to the road. They might have been able to slow down or otherwise avoid the accident. A judge might consider them 20% at fault. In this case, they could only seek compensation against you for $800.

While driving intoxicated almost always puts the majority of the fault on the intoxicated driver, modified comparative negligence laws help ease the financial burden. A DWI lawyer can help you make a strong defense of your case.

Finding Insurance After DWI Charges

After a DWI charge, you must have an SR-22 before you can reinstate your driver’s license. However, not all insurance companies provide these. The Safety Responsibility Act requires certain drivers with dangerous driving convictions to have continued proof of insurance for two years after their insurance is issued. Because many policies for drivers with DWI charges tend to be more costly, getting insurance after an accident can dramatically affect your financial situation long after all the damages are repaired.

Insurance premiums tend to rise significantly after a DWI accident. Even a DWI charge with no accident involved can dramatically raise your insurance costs. It can even get you dropped by your insurance company. A DWI lawyer can help you with an SR-22 to help you reinstate your license and get back on the road.

How a Texas DWI Lawyer Can Help

Mistakes happen, but we can’t let them rule our lives. After being charged with a DWI offense, you’ll be left figuring out your financial responsibility to other drivers. And you need to know how to get your license reinstated so you can get back to your life. With a DWI lawyer from the Hager Law Firm, you’ll be able to move through the process swiftly and with a strong and compassionate defense. Do you need help navigating insurance, compensation, and license suspension after a DWI charge? Call the Hager Law Firm today at (903) 466-0001 for a consultation about your case.

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