Average Settlement After Getting Hit by a Drunk Driver
If you were in an accident with a drunk driver you may be experiencing several different emotions including anger, frustration, confusion, fear, and worry. Being in a vehicle accident with someone who just made a simple driving error is one thing. Still, it is another to sustain serious injuries because someone made the completely irresponsible decision to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 2022, Forbes ranked South Carolina as the seventh worst state when it comes to drunk driving, noting that 289.6 drivers received a DUI for every 100,000 licensed drivers.
Drunk driving should never be tolerated and it is important that the driver is held responsible for the damage they have caused. You may wonder about the average settlement for a drunk driving accident. Many people think such an average would give me an idea of what they might expect in their case. But there are so many variables from case to case, that there really is no such thing as an “average.” First, many settlement agreements are confidential.
Therefore, the numbers are skewed from the start because many cases are not included. Second, each case is so unique that one important factor could drastically alter what is possible to receive in your case. Therefore, instead of seeking some nebulous average—it is more effective to talk to a South Carolina personal injury lawyer who is familiar with this type of claim. They can look at the details and give you a far more educated estimation than anything you could try to extrapolate from an average.
That being said, today, we will look at a number of factors that go into determining what your case is worth.
Average Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident
Though we believe every case is unique, and there is no real average settlement when hit by a drunk driver, we are happy to give you some insight into how courts determine awards. Here are some of the factors that are taken into consideration when determining a claim’s value:
- The severity of injuries suffered,
- Long-term injury prognosis,
- Expenses associated with the accident,
- Impact on the victim’s overall mental and physical well-being,
- Evidence available to prove liability,
- Whether the victim contributed to the accident, and
- The knowledge and skill of your attorney
It is important to take both the current and future impact of the accident into consideration when determining value. Yes, you have financial obligations that you need to meet now, but will you still be feeling the effects of the accident years from now? Your attorney and relevant expert witnesses can help you prove the extent of the impact and the compensation you need to make it right.
I Got Hit By a Drunk Driver, What Am I Entitled To?
The physical and emotional burden of having been through a serious accident can be overwhelming on its own. But adding the associated financial hardship when you didn’t cause the crash is not acceptable. There are three types of damages you may be eligible for in a settlement after getting hit by a drunk driver: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Verifiable monetary expenses associated with your injuries and other accident-related financial losses are considered economic damages. Often, the more serious your injuries, the more expensive they are to treat and the longer it may be before you are able to work again. Some economic damages you may be eligible to receive include the cost of the following:
- Emergency medical treatment,
- Temporary or prolonged hospitalization,
- Follow-up doctor visits,
- Property damage,
- Surgical procedures,
- Ongoing treatment,
- Medical equipment and home modifications,
- Prescription medication,
- Physical therapy,
- In-home care, and
- Transportation to appointments.
Lost wages are also an important part of economic recovery. If you cannot work because of your injury, cannot do the same job, or experience reduced earning capacity, you should be compensated. The loss may be temporary or permanent depending on the nature and prognosis of your injury.
The physical, mental, and emotional hardships that arise from being in a drunk driving accident should not be overlooked. These non-economic damages have a significant impact on your life and therefore, are compensable. Here are some examples of non-economic damages:
- Pain and suffering,
- Post-traumatic stress,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Mental anguish, and
Your personal injury attorney can help you build a case that adequately compensates you for all your losses.
In some situations, the court may find that the driver’s behavior is so grossly negligent that they deserve punishment beyond paying the standard compensatory damages. Instead of compensating you for losses, the court uses punitive damages to punish bad behavior and deter future misconduct. A judge will typically award these damages in cases where the defendant has had a prior DUI conviction or exhibited malicious or reckless behavior without regard to others. In South Carolina, punitive damages are limited to $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages—whichever is greater.
The team at the Peace Law Firm is ready to help you pursue justice and maximum compensation. There may not be an average settlement for a drunk driving accident but we have secured multiple million-dollar case results for injured victims and their families in South Carolina. And though case values differ, we are committed to helping you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.