What is the Average Settlement When Hit by a Drunk Driver?

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

Being hit by a drunk driver can lead to severe injuries, significant financial burdens, and emotional distress. Understanding the potential settlement amount can help you navigate the aftermath of such an accident and make informed decisions about your legal options. Here’s what you need to know about the average settlement when hit by a drunk driver.

What Constitutes a Drunk Driving Accident?

What is the Average Settlement When Hit by a Drunk Driver?

A drunk driving accident occurs when a motor vehicle collision involves a driver who is operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These accidents can result in severe injuries, fatalities, and significant property damage. Understanding what constitutes a drunk driving accident is essential for identifying liability and seeking compensation.

Legal Definition of Drunk Driving

In New York, a driver is considered legally intoxicated if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is lower, at 0.04%. Drivers under the age of 21 are subject to a zero-tolerance policy, meaning any detectable BAC can lead to legal consequences.

What is the Average Settlement When Hit by a Drunk Driver?

The average settlement for being hit by a drunk driver can vary widely, typically ranging from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars. The exact amount depends on various factors specific to each case.

What Settlement Amounts Do People Usually Get?

The settlement amounts people receive after being hit by a drunk driver can vary widely. Generally, these settlements range from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars, with some cases reaching into the millions depending on the specifics. Here’s a breakdown of what impacts these settlement amounts:

Severity of Injuries

  • Minor Injuries: Cases involving minor injuries like whiplash or minor fractures might settle for amounts ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.
  • Moderate Injuries: More serious injuries that require surgery or extensive medical treatment can lead to settlements between $50,000 and $200,000.
  • Severe Injuries: Cases involving life-altering injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or permanent disability, can result in settlements from $200,000 to over $1 million.

Types of Damages You Can Pursue After Being Hit By a Drunk Driver

Being hit by a drunk driver can result in significant physical, emotional, and financial burdens. If you’ve been injured in such an accident, you may be entitled to various types of damages. Understanding the types of damages you can pursue is crucial for ensuring you receive fair compensation for your losses.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are often the most immediate and substantial costs incurred after an accident. You can pursue compensation for:

  • Emergency Room Visits: Costs for immediate medical attention following the accident.
  • Hospital Stays: Expenses for any inpatient care required.
  • Surgeries: Costs of surgical procedures needed due to injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Rehabilitation: Physical therapy and other rehabilitative services to aid recovery.
  • Medications: Prescription and over-the-counter drugs required for treatment.
  • Medical Equipment: Costs for necessary medical devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or braces.
  • Future Medical Expenses: Anticipated future medical costs related to ongoing treatment and care.

Lost Wages

If your injuries prevent you from working, you can seek compensation for lost wages. This includes:

  • Immediate Lost Income: Earnings lost due to time off work immediately following the accident.
  • Future Lost Earnings: Compensation for a reduction in your future earning capacity if you are unable to return to work or must work in a reduced capacity due to your injuries.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering damages compensate for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident. Factors considered in determining these damages include:

  • Severity of Injuries: More severe injuries typically result in higher pain and suffering compensation.
  • Impact on Daily Life: How the injuries affect your ability to perform daily activities and enjoy life.
  • Emotional Distress: Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues stemming from the accident.

Property Damage

If your vehicle or other personal property was damaged in the accident, you could seek compensation for:

  • Vehicle Repairs: Costs to repair your vehicle.
  • Vehicle Replacement: If your vehicle is totaled, the cost to replace it.
  • Personal Belongings: Compensation for other personal items damaged in the accident, such as electronics, clothing, or other belongings.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium damages are intended to compensate for the impact of your injuries on your relationship with your spouse or family. This includes:

  • Loss of Companionship: The emotional and physical support provided by a spouse.
  • Loss of Intimacy: The negative impact on marital relations.
  • Loss of Parental Guidance: The effect of your injuries on your ability to provide guidance and support to your children.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be awarded in cases involving particularly egregious or reckless behavior, such as drunk driving. These damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages and can significantly increase the total amount of compensation.

How to Maximize Your Drunk Driving Accident Settlement

Being involved in a drunk driving accident can be a traumatic and life-altering experience. Ensuring you receive the maximum settlement possible is crucial for covering your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Here are key steps to help you maximize your settlement after a drunk driving accident:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Your health should be your top priority. Seek medical attention immediately, even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not be apparent right away but can worsen over time. Medical records documenting your injuries and treatment are essential for your claim.

Gather and Preserve Evidence

Collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene:

  • Photographs: Take pictures of the vehicles involved, the accident scene, and any visible injuries.
  • Witness Information: Obtain contact details and statements from any witnesses.
  • Police Report: Ensure a police report is filed and obtain a copy for your records. This report will document that the other driver was intoxicated.

Document Your Injuries and Expenses

Keep detailed records of all medical treatments, expenses, and any other costs related to the accident:

  • Medical Bills: Save all invoices and receipts for treatments, medications, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost Wages: Document any time missed from work and lost income due to your injuries.
  • Property Damage: Keep records of any repairs or replacement costs for your vehicle and other personal property.

Avoid Giving Statements Without Legal Advice

Be cautious when speaking to insurance adjusters. Do not provide detailed statements or accept any settlement offers without consulting a lawyer. Insurance companies often aim to minimize payouts, and anything you say can be used against you.

Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

An experienced personal injury lawyer is crucial for maximizing your settlement. A drunk driving accident lawyer can:

  • Evaluate Your Case: Assess the full extent of your damages and determine a fair settlement amount.
  • Handle Communications: Manage all interactions with insurance companies and the at-fault driver’s representatives.
  • Gather Additional Evidence: Subpoena records, gather expert testimonies, and build a strong case on your behalf.
  • Negotiate Aggressively: Fight for the maximum compensation you deserve and be prepared to take your case to court if necessary.

Take Action for the Compensation You Deserve

If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, don’t navigate this challenging time alone. Contact Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP today for a free consultation. Our dedicated team will help you understand your options and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.

Average Settlement When Hit by a Drunk Driver FAQs

What is the average settlement for a drunk driving accident?

The average settlement for a drunk driving accident can vary widely, typically ranging from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars. Factors such as the severity of injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages influence the final amount.

What factors impact the settlement amount?

Several factors impact the settlement amount, including:

  • Severity of Injuries: More severe injuries lead to higher settlements due to increased medical costs and long-term care needs.
  • Medical Expenses: Comprehensive coverage for immediate and future medical treatments.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for time missed from work and reduced future earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages: Additional damages awarded to punish the drunk driver for their reckless behavior.
  • Insurance Coverage: The limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy and your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Can punitive damages be awarded in drunk driving cases?

Yes, punitive damages are often awarded in drunk driving cases. These damages are intended to punish the driver for their reckless behavior and deter similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages can significantly increase the overall settlement amount.

How long does it take to receive a settlement?

The timeframe for receiving a settlement can vary based on the complexity of the case, the severity of injuries, and the willingness of insurance companies to negotiate. Settlements can take anywhere from a few months to several years to finalize.

Should I accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company?

It’s generally not advisable to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company, as it may be lower than what you deserve. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can negotiate on your behalf and ensure you receive fair compensation.

What should I do immediately after being hit by a drunk driver?

  • Seek Medical Attention: Get medical help right away, even if you feel fine.
  • Report the Accident: Call the police and ensure a report is filed.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect contact information from witnesses, take photos of the scene, and document your injuries.
  • Consult a Car Accident Lawyer: Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and understand your legal options.

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