What Is The Average Settlement When Injured By A Drunk Driver?
Written By: Attorney Colin McIver
INJURED BY A DRUNK DRIVER? CALL (800) 863-5312 TO SPEAK TO A LAWYER TODAY
Proving personal injuries were caused by a drunk driver can significantly increase the settlement amount of a claim. In some states, such as Colorado, the injured party may be entitled to punitive damages, allowing the injured party to recover additional damages based on the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct. Even in states where punitive damages are not available, a jury is generally more likely to place blame on an intoxicated driver.
Settlement amounts vary greatly for claims involving personal injuries caused by a drunk driver. Such settlements may range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Knowing the average settlement amount of such cases is misleading because of this large disparity.
To learn more about how much your case may be worth, contact the drunk driving attorneys at Zinda Law Group for a free consultation. In this consultation, an attorney may listen to the facts of your case and give you a better estimate on what compensation you may be able to seek. To speak to a lawyer today, call us at (800) 863-5312.
Some of the key factors we consider when determining settlement to expect in claims where someone was injured by a drunk driver include:
What proof do we have that the driver was intoxicated?
The strength of the evidence showing the at-fault driver was intoxicated may affect the value of a claim. Because of this, it is important to determine what evidence exists that proves the at-fault driver was intoxicated. The evidence we look for includes:
- A crash report stating that the driver was intoxicated;
- Any citations the drunk driver received because of the incident;
- Medical records showing the results of any blood test taken at or near the time of the incident;
- Dash camera footage from the responding officers;
- Body camera footage from the responding officers;
- Camera footage from nearby businesses/facilities;
- Witnesses that were present at or around the time of the incident;
- Witnesses who were with the drunk driver prior to the incident, including anyone who served alcohol to the drunk driver near the time of the incident; and
- Camera footage from any establishment where the drunk driver was being served alcohol near the time of the incident.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows some of the common ways to prove that a driver was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
How terrible was the intoxicated driver’s conduct?
The extent of the drunk driver’s conduct may affect the settlement amount you may be able to seek after being injured. The more unreasonable the drunk-drivers conduct, the more likely it is to increase the potential settlement amount. When examining the at-fault driver’s behavior, some things to consider include:
- Whether the at-fault driver was previously cited for drinking and driving;
- Whether the at-fault driver admitted to being intoxicated;
- The amount of alcohol the at-fault driver ingested;
- The types of alcohol the at-fault driver ingested; and
- The manner in which the at-fault driver was operating their vehicle.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the considerations for determining the reasonableness of the at-fault driver’s behavior.
How much insurance is available?
The amount of insurance available may limit the settlement amount in a drunk driving injury case. For example, a drunk driver might only have $50,000 in insurance coverage. If there is no other applicable insurance coverage, the settlement may be limited to $50,000 regardless of drunk driver’s conduct or the harms and losses caused by the drunk driver. Even if the medical bills were $100,000 and there was proof the driver was highly intoxicated, the drunk driver’s insurance policy would still have a limit of $50,000.
Because settlements may be limited by the amount of insurance available, it is important to find all the insurance policies that may apply. Determining the amount of insurance available can be difficult. The drunk driver may have his or her own insurance policy. The vehicle driven by the drunk driver may be covered by a separate policy. Your own insurance may provide coverage. If you are in a vehicle, that vehicle may have a policy that applies. If you are a passenger in a vehicle, the driver of your vehicle may have a policy that applies to you as well. These are just a few of the potential insurance policies that may cover someone in an incident caused by a drunk driver.
In some limited circumstances, it is possible to recover more than the coverage available through the applicable insurance policies. For example, when the insurance company acts in bad faith. However, many claims will be limited to the insurance available. It is also important to note that you can pursue the drunk driver as an individual to try to recover more than the limits of the insurance policy. However, going after the drunk driver individually is often so costly and time-consuming that this is not a feasible option.
Learn More: Negotiating With The Insurance Company
How severe are the injuries caused by the drunk driver?
Generally, the greater the severity of the injuries caused by the drunk driver, the more the injured party is entitled to recover. For example, someone that suffers a traumatic brain injury or an injury that requires surgery is likely entitled to a larger recovery than someone who suffers a mild muscle strain. When examining the severity of injuries, some considerations include:
- The total amount of medical bills;
- The types of treatment received;
- The types of treatment recommended;
- The extent of any visible injuries;
- Any permanent impairment;
- Any permanent scarring or disfigurement; and
- Any surgeries that are required or recommended.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but it provides some of the considerations that may affect a potential settlement amount.
Every case is different and the expected settlement in a personal injury case depends on a number of different factors. The at-fault driver being intoxicated is another factor that may increase the expected settlement amount and must be considered in conjunction with other factors, including the proof of intoxication, the reasonableness of the at-fault driver’s conduct, the amount of insurance available, and the severity of the injuries caused by the drunk driver. It is important to consult an experienced attorney who may evaluate a potential claim to seek maximum compensation for the harms and losses caused by the drunk driver.
Learn More: How to Calculate the Value of Case
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At Zinda Law Group, our experienced personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and to seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
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