Have you been injured in a DUI, DWI, or OVI accident? Do you think you need a pro bono lawyer because you’re concerned about the costs? Don’t worry. Many personal injury attorneys will take your case on contingency, meaning you pay nothing unless your case is won. Here’s a guide.
What if I can’t afford a personal injury lawyer after a DUI, DWI, or OVI car accident? Do I need a pro bono lawyer?
Generally, DWI accident victims don’t need a pro bono lawyer, because attorneys may take their case on a contingency basis — meaning the client pays nothing unless the case is won or a settlement is mediated. If you have been injured or lost a loved one to a drunk driver, many personal injury attorneys will take your case on what’s called a contingency fee. If you win your case at trial, or your lawyer negotiates a fair settlement for you, the attorney fees will simply be deducted from the damages awarded, your medical bills are paid, and you receive the rest.
If your lawyer has taken your case on a contingency basis and you lose in court you won’t have to pay your lawyer at all.
Will DUI personal injury lawyers ever take a case pro bono?
Generally speaking, no. A lawyer takes a case pro bono when they charge no fees whatsoever, and simply donate their services to clients on a voluntary basis. Personal injury attorneys hardly ever do this for DUI lawsuits, unless there are very rare and unusual circumstances.
Are there pro bono DUI defense lawyers?
Only for rare and exceptional cases. Note that, for the criminal side of the DWI/DUI case, a Defendant is not required to hire an attorney. The victim will be represented by a prosecutor, and the defendant may be represented by a public defender if they cannot afford to retain their own counsel. In the very rarest of circumstances, a private criminal defense attorney may represent a DUI defendant pro bono, but usually only when there is some technical or obscure legal issue that needs addressing and/or there is abounding evidence to prove that the state is egregiously in the wrong. Some legal aid societies exist for defendants in such situations.
How much money can I get for a DUI, DWI, or OVI lawsuit?
The amount of plaintiff damages awarded in a DUI, DWI, or OVI lawsuit will depend on the type of lawsuit you file, the extent of the harm done, and whether the offender actually has the financial resources to pay you. If the drunk driver had car insurance, a good personal injury lawyer will make sure you get the maximum possible payout from their policy. Insurance companies generally pay out larger sums to victims of DWI/DUI accidents than victims of “non-DWI/DUI “ accidents.
If you lost a loved one in the accident, a wrongful death lawsuit against the offender may be the best route to take. An experienced injury lawyer will go after the intoxicated driver’s insurance coverage or personal funds to pay you. It is not unheard of for wrongful death lawsuits to pay out millions to survivors if the accident resulted in death, paralysis, or serious brain injury. Victim compensation tends to be especially high if the offending driver was a semi, big rig, or 18-wheeler commercial truck driver.
What kinds of damages can I sue for if I was hit by a drunk driver?
The types of damages you can sue for after a DUI, DWI, or OVI accident may be both economic and non-economic. Examples of economic damages you may be compensated for are:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Long-term disability or loss of future earning potential
Examples of non-economic damages you may be compensated for are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent impairment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
In addition to the above compensatory damages, victims of drunk drivers may be awarded punitive damages (additional damages intended to punish the perpetrator), as well as attorney’s fees.
Will a drunk or intoxicated driver go to jail if I sue them?
A drunk or intoxicated driver may go to jail whether or not you sue them. They are two separate issues. Understand that a drunk driver will face three types of legal consequences:
- Criminal (probation; potential jail or prison time)
- Administrative (fines; suspension or loss of driver’s license)
- Civil (having to pay money to the victim or the victim’s survivors)
The role of a personal injury lawyer is to handle the civil side of the case and make sure the victim and/or their family gets fairly compensated for their injuries, pain and suffering, and economic damages.
How long does it take to get paid after a drunk driving lawsuit?
We see most drunk driving accident settlements paid out within 12-24 months. However, the length of time it takes to get paid after a DUI, DWI, or OVI civil lawsuit depends on whether an adequate settlement agreement can be reached between the parties or the case proceeds to trial in front of a judge and jury. If the driver was tested via a blood or breathalyzer screening after the accident and there is undeniable proof that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, most offenders and their insurance companies are eager to settle. They know that if the case goes to trial the damages awarded by a judge and jury will likely be higher.
If a generous and adequate settlement offer is made to the victim, some drunk driving cases can be settled in a matter of months. In other more complex cases where the case proceeds to trial, it may take over a year or more to get a final judgment from a court. At your initial consultation with a personal injury attorney feel free to ask about what the potential timeline might be for your specific case.
Can I sue a drunk or high driver if they injured or killed my spouse or family member?
Yes. In Texas, spouses can bring a civil suit against an intoxicated driver on behalf of their husband or wife. Likewise, if you are a surviving natural or adoptive parent of a DUI/DWI/OVI accident victim, you can file suit on behalf of your child. And if you are a surviving natural or adoptive child of a DUI/DWI/OVI victim, you can file a civil suit on behalf of your parent, even if you are a minor. If you are a victim’s sibling, you may be able to file a lawsuit on their behalf if you are a formal legal representative for them — such as a power of attorney if they are still living but incapacitated, or an administrator of their estate if they have been killed.
What is the statute of limitations against a DUI/DWI/OVI drunk driver?
In Texas, you must file suit against a DUI/DWI/OVI driver within 2 years of the accident. If your loved one has passed away as a result of the accident, you must file suit within 2 years of the date of their death. There are exceptions to this rule for certain extenuating circumstances, however, and the law is appropriately reasonable and accommodating. For example, if a mental or physical impairment prevented an injured plaintiff from bringing suit within the 2-year statute of limitations, or a surviving child of the victim was a minor during that period, a civil suit may still be brought against the defendant at a later date.
Do I need a DUI/DWI/OVI drunk driving accident lawyer near me?
Car accidents involving a drunk or intoxicated driver are far more complicated than a standard car crash and victims are generally entitled to increased compensation. If you have been hurt by an impaired driver, or worse, lost a loved one, be sure to find the best personal injury lawyer near you who specializes in DUI/DWI/OVI cases. At Attorney911, we have a solid track record of huge wins for victims of drunk drivers. We are fully committed to getting you all the compensation you deserve, and won’t settle for anything less. Please contact us with questions, we fight for people like you throughout Texas.
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Legal Emergency Lawyers™ legal services
Attorney911 Legal Emergency Lawyers™ legal services is a Texas-based personal injury and criminal defense law firm with offices in Houston and Austin, though we are proud to serve Texans from all over the state and represent clients in federal court. We handle a wide variety of legal issues — from car accidents to worker’s compensation to DUI/DWI offenses. Our staff is bilingual, friendly, and genuinely passionate about helping our clients, whether it’s a million-dollar case or a thousand-dollar case. We also understand that cost can be a prohibitive factor in hiring a lawyer, and are willing to work with you on structuring payment in a way that is fair and feasible. We do accept credit cards for our hourly fees, and take some cases on contingency, which means you don’t pay us unless and until you get paid yourself. We know that you have a choice in your legal representation, and we believe that what makes us stand out from the competition is our real emotional investment in our clients. We see you as a person — not a paycheck. And we will fight hard for you, because we truly care.