Drunk driving accidents are usually worse than other car accidents. For one thing, the driver usually was so impaired that they collided with another vehicle at top speed. For another, feelings of anger are perfectly normal. It is illegal to drive while intoxicated, and knowing that someone did something so reckless often makes people feel outraged.
Fortunately, there is a way to seek justice: sue the drunk driver in court. Many people contact us after an accident and ask us what the average drunk driver settlement is. Often, they are worried they won’t receive enough money to cover their expenses, so they want to check that bringing a lawsuit is worth their time.
In truth, it isn’t helpful to talk about an average drunk driver settlement since every case is unique. Let’s look at the factors that will determine how much you can receive.
The Severity of Your Injuries
The more serious or permanent your injuries, the more money you are likely to receive in a drunk driving settlement. For example, someone who has suffered permanent brain damage will receive much more than someone who suffered mild whiplash that clears up in a month. The same is true if the accident leaves you with a permanent limp or chronic pain.
Some permanent injuries might not be physically disabling but cause severe emotional distress. For example, burns or scars on visible parts of the body can yield higher settlements than injuries that are invisible. The reason? The increased emotional distress that disfigurement causes.
The Amount of Your Economic Loss
Medical bills are a huge expense, but severe injuries also cause people to miss work, so they lose out on income. You can typically receive a larger settlement if you miss work than if you are right back in the office the very next day.
California Civil Code § 3294 gives injured victims the right to seek punitive damages when a defendant acts with oppression, fraud, or malice. Driving drunk is a situation where a driver exhibits conscious disregard for the safety of others, so a victim can usually seek punitive damages.
Although punitive damages are calculated to punish the defendant, the victim ends up receiving them. In certain cases, punitive damages can dramatically increase the amount of compensation a client receives.
Applicable Insurance Policies
Most settlements are paid out of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. The higher the policy limit, the more compensation our clients can receive. For example, if the driver worked for a business, then the business liability policy could cover the accident. Most business policies are much larger than what an individual driver would carry.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? Contact RMD Law
Although it is impossible to calculate an average drunk driver settlement, an experienced attorney can look at the facts of your case and analyze whether a lawsuit makes sense.
For help with your case, please contact us today. One of our Orange County drunk driving attorneys will meet with you for a complimentary case review. You can schedule it by calling us or submitting an online contact form.