We discuss: If you're hurt by a drunk driver in Texas and they're sentenced to prison, can you still sue them?
David Turano was sentenced to five to 12 years in prison after getting drunk and causing an auto wreck that killed 12-year-old Lenny Zupon, Jr.
Last year, Turano decided to drive after drinking too much and ended up turning in front of another car, causing a deadly wreck. Zupon was killed as a result of his injuries. His father, who was driving, survived the car crash, but he's needed 11 surgeries since that day.
There's no doubt that Turano's actions have caused the Zupon family great grief and his sentence to prison is warranted.
As we all know, drunk driving is a serious criminal offense. Intoxicated drivers are risking more than their own lives - they're endangering others too.
Turano has been sentenced to prison, but many people wrongly assume that's the only justice the Zupon family will have. However, even if a drunk driver faces criminal charges, they can also be punished under civil law. A civil claim for compensation typically means that the victims get reimbursed for things like medical bills, car damage, etc.
In addition to these, some lawyers might also decide to pursue punitive damages against a drunk driver.
If you're the victim of a drunk driving accident and your case goes to trial, your lawyer will show that punitive damages are appropriate by asking the jury things like, “Were the actions of the at-fault driver gross negligence?” In Texas, gross negligence means “more than momentary thoughtlessness, inadvertence, or error of judgment." In other words, the at-fault driver didn't make a split-second mistake.
Since a drunk drivers know that driving drunk is extremely dangerous and illegal when they decide to do it, this criteria typically applies and gross negligence can be established.
This is important for drunk driving auto wreck victims to understand. In Texas, there are separate systems used to punish criminals, and both can be used simultaniously to achieve full justice.
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