According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 28 people per day die in drunk driving accidents.
In 2019, the total number of DUI accident fatalities reached over 10,000. These accidents are responsible for almost a third of all traffic-related fatalities.
Thousands of people are hit by drunk drivers every year, and while most survive the accident, it can impact the rest of their lives.
After a drunk driving accident, you can pursue a personal injury claim against the driver responsible for the crash. Under the terms of the drunk driver’s insurance policy, the insurance company is on the hook for any damages related to the insured’s actions. Thus, drunk driving cases are typically defended by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
In many cases, when you file a claim with an insurance company, the insurance company will make a settlement offer. A settlement is an agreement between you and the insurance company.
The insurance company agrees to pay you a certain amount of money, and in exchange, you agree not to pursue the case in court. However, for those who have not been through the process before, it can be challenging to determine what is a fair settlement for a drunk driving accident.
If you’re looking for the average hit by a drunk driver settlement, the unfortunate reality is that there really is no such thing. That is because the amount for each settlement is completely dependent upon the facts and circumstances surrounding each individual case.
In other words, settlement amounts can and do vary greatly. One person’s case could warrant a $50,000 settlement, while another person’s case could result in a $500,000 settlement. So trying to provide an average is really meaningless.
Instead, let’s look at some factors that will help you get an idea of what insurance companies look at when negotiating a settlement.
What Goes into an Insurance Company’s Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident?
After you are hit by a drunk driver, settlement with the insurance company will depend on the specific circumstances of your accident. Insurance companies want to resolve a case for as little money as possible.
When an insurance company comes up with a DUI accident settlement amount, it takes a few things into consideration. Generally, this involves the insurance company weighing the risks of taking the case to trial.
For example, the insurance company is primarily concerned with its chances of winning if it takes the case to trial. It is also worried about what the potential costs would be if a judge or jury finds it is liable for the victim’s injuries.
One of the insurance company’s primary considerations when making a settlement offer in a drunk driving case is its assessment of the case against the drunk driver.
For example, if a driver was arrested for DUI charges and convicted at trial, it will not bode well for the insurance company. In this situation, the insurance company may make a higher settlement offer.
On the other hand, if the evidence of a driver’s intoxication is weak or there is evidence suggesting that the accident victim’s negligence played a role in the accident, the insurance company may like its odds at trial.
Thus, in these situations, the insurance company would likely offer a reduced settlement amount.
The other factor that plays into drunk driver settlement amounts is the potential amount of damages it may need to pay out. This can be a fairly complex determination, depending on the facts.
Generally, there are two types of damages in a drunk driving accident: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include things like medical expenses, lost wages, decreased earning capacity, and property damage. These damages are objective, meaning they are fairly easy to calculate. For example, you can present your medical bills to prove that you suffered economic damages related to your medical expenses.
Non-economic damages include the psychological or emotional impact that the accident had on your life and the physical pain you have endured. For example, pain and suffering is a commonly awarded form of non-economic damages. But how do you assign a value to pain and suffering? It’s not easy because these damages are subjective in nature.
So How Do You Maximize Your Hit by a Drunk Driver Settlement?
Generally, an insurance company’s settlement offer in a drunk driving case will focus primarily on compensating an accident victim for their economic damages. However, settlement offers rarely value a victim’s non-economic damages fairly.
Of course, a fair settlement offer will include amounts for both economic and non-economic damages. So what is an accident victim to do if the insurance company isn’t making a reasonable settlement offer?
An attorney with specific experience handling DUI settlements can help you present a compelling case to the insurance company. Personal injury attorneys know what information an insurance company needs to see to make a fair offer.
Additionally, by working with a lawyer, you show the insurance company that you are serious about pursuing your case. For example, the insurance company knows that if an agreement isn’t reached, an attorney can easily file a claim in court.
This opens up the possibility that a judge or jury will ultimately determine the insurance company is responsible for your injuries. And because a damages award after a trial can be unpredictable, an insurance company may want to avoid this uncertainty.
Contact a Seasoned San Francisco Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case Today
If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident, the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart is here to help. Chuck is a veteran San Francisco personal injury lawyer with extensive experience handling DUI accidents.
Over the course of the past two decades, Attorney Geerhart has successfully represented countless injury victims, obtaining multiple six- and seven-figure settlements and jury verdicts on their behalf.
Despite his success, he remains true to his guiding principles of providing each client with personal attention in pursuit of exceptional results. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call or reach out through our online contact form.