Florida is one of the top tourism destinations in the United States, with millions of citizens and overseas visitors flocking to its sunny beaches each year, enjoying the sun and drinking in the local bars and restaurants. With this huge influx of visitors drinking alcohol, in addition to residents, there is inevitably a huge number of drunk driving accidents on the roads each year.
Drunk driving is strictly forbidden throughout the United States, and being caught can result in a felony conviction for the drunk driver and a lengthy prison sentence. Nonetheless, car accidents involving drunk drivers happen regularly, and many victims suffer severe injuries or even death. Drunk driving accident victims often ask whether there is an average settlement for these accidents, and the answer is generally no, as the settlement you receive will depend on a number of particular factors.
The best way to find out what type of drunk driver settlement you can receive is by contacting a personal injury lawyer and discussing your case. Here at The Law Place, we have dealt with many drunk driving lawsuit settlements, and we are experienced in getting our clients the maximum compensation they deserve. Our law firm has a team of experienced personal injury lawyers who can help you file a claim and ensure that that the drunk driver responsible for your accident is held responsible. We offer a free consultation so you can get honest legal advice with no strings attached.
Don’t hesitate to contact us. The sooner you do, the more time we have to get you a fair settlement for your drunk driving case. Call us today to schedule a free legal consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are always open.
Is There an Average Settlement Amount for Drunk Driving Accidents?
As stated above, there is typically no average settlement amount for a drunk driving accident. It is true, however, that drunk driving lawsuit settlements can often be a lot higher than an average car accident settlement, particularly because the at-fault driver displayed a huge amount of negligence that caused the collision, which could amount to gross negligence.
It can be much easier to get compensation for a drunk driving accident as driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime under Florida law, and the party responsible may have already been charged criminally. This can make proving fault a lot simpler, and a lawyer can reference this DUI charge to show that the driver was under the influence at the time of the car accident.
What Factors Influence Drunk Driving Lawsuit Settlements?
As there is no average settlement amount for drunk driving accident cases, the amount of compensation you receive will generally depend on a number of factors, including the compensatory damages you are entitled to, the severity of the car accident, and comparative fault laws. When calculating damages to increase your settlement amount, a lawyer can help you claim the following:
- Medical expenses – If you have suffered a personal injury in a drunk driving accident, you can claim for any medical expenses relating to these injuries. This can include medical bills for hospital appointments, transport to and from these appointments, and medical costs for any future treatment required. If you suffered a permanent injury, the amount of compensation you receive for medical expenses would increase substantially.
- Lost wages – In many drunk driving cases, victims are left unable to work due to the injuries they have suffered. When this happens, you can claim for any lost wages, including potential future earnings.
- Property damage – If your car or motor vehicle was damaged in the drunk driving accident, you could claim compensation to cover repair or replacement costs.
- Wrongful death – If one of your family members was killed by a drunk driver, you could recover compensation to cover funeral expenses and a loss of consortium.
Aside from the economic damages resulting from a drunk driving accident, it is also possible to increase your drunk driver settlement by claiming non-economic damages. Many victims suffer a lot more than physical complications from an accident, and often this can be difficult to quantify into a monetary value. When claiming non-economic damages, we always recommend getting legal assistance, and an experienced lawyer can help you claim the following:
- Pain and suffering – If you have suffered any physical or emotional distress, anguish, or trauma because of a drunk driving accident, you can claim pain and suffering damages to compensate for this.
- Loss of enjoyment in life – It is possible to recover compensation if you have lost enjoyment in life because of a drunk driver. This can include not being able to participate in a hobby or sport you previously enjoyed because of the accident.
- Physical disfigurement or impairment – Suffering a permanent disability or injury because of a drunk driver is devastating and can impact your mental health for the rest of your life. A lawyer from our law firm can help you recover damages to compensate for this trauma.
Drunk driver settlement amounts vary, and the amount of harm you have suffered will have a major impact on your final settlement amount. Having the backing of a personal injury attorney can increase your settlement value substantially, as they are experienced in negotiating with courts and insurance companies to get the compensation their clients deserve.
How Do I Get Compensation for My Drunk Driving Accident Case?
Having considered how much compensation you may be entitled to for your drunk driving case, you may be wondering how you can actually pursue compensation. In general, there are two ways of recovering compensation for car accident cases; making an insurance claim with an insurance company, or filing an injury lawsuit.
Filing an Insurance Claim
To achieve a settlement for a drunk driving case in Florida, the first step every driver must take is to file a claim with their own insurance company. Florida Statute 627.7407 provides that Florida is a no-fault state. This means your own insurance company must pay you out the damages you are owed from a car accident up to the extent of your policy limits. Even if you were at fault for the accident, any personal injury or property damage you have sustained would be covered under your own insurance policy.
Under this law, all drivers are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of at least $10,000 in addition to property damage coverage of the same value. However, in many drunk driving accident cases, the harm sustained by victims goes beyond what is covered under their own insurance policy. When this happens, a victim may be required to file a personal injury claim with the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver. You will have to demonstrate that the drunk driver was at fault for the collision in order to successfully recover compensation from their insurance company.
If the other driver was uninsured, and you are in possession of uninsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company to get the compensation you are owed.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
In some cases, the insurance company of the other driver may refuse to pay you out or may undervalue your settlement, resulting in you being offered less compensation than you deserve. When this happens, drunk driving victims may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to receive justice. Lawsuits can be lengthy and stressful. Having a personal injury lawyer to help you can increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement substantially.
When filing a lawsuit, a car accident lawyer must demonstrate the following:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
- They breached this duty of care to you by driving over the legal limit and acting negligently.
- The drunk driver caused your accident through this negligent behavior.
- You suffered damages as a result.
Once these elements can be proved, you can expect financial recovery for any injuries and harm you have suffered.
However, it is important to be aware of comparative fault laws in Florida. These laws provide that the compensation you receive will depend on your level of fault for the accident. For example, if you were speeding or failing to obey traffic laws when you were hit by a drunk driver, and you were found to be 30% at fault for the accident, your compensatory damages will be reduced by 30%. An attorney can help ensure that you are not found at fault for the accident with a drunk driver and that your settlement value is not reduced by comparative fault laws.
What Should I Do Following an Accident With a Drunk Driver?
Many accident victims are unsure what to do in the immediate steps following a collision, and they are unaware that failure to take appropriate measures can negatively impact their settlement outcome. If you have been involved in an accident involving a drunk driver, it is important that you take the following steps to ensure your own safety and that you get the maximum amount of compensation possible:
- Seek medical assistance – The first steps you should take following any road accident are to get to safety and get medical treatment. Even if the injuries you suffered were not serious, a doctor would file a medical record on your behalf, which will be essential to your compensation claim.
- Contact law enforcement – Once you have gotten to safety and have contacted a paramedic, you should notify law enforcement of the accident as soon as possible. A police officer will attend to the scene and draw up a police report detailing the events of the accident, including witness statements, the contact information of you and the other party, and statements from all parties involved. Your lawyer will use this police report when filing a claim on your behalf.
- Remain at the accident scene – It is important that you remain at the accident scene until law enforcement arrives, as failure to do so can result in you facing criminal charges and your compensation claim being thrown out.
- Collect evidence – Our law firm always recommends that you gather as much evidence from the scene as possible. This should include witness statements, the personal and insurance information of the other party involved, and photographs of the property damage and injuries caused.
- Contact your insurance company – It is required by law that you notify your insurance office of an accident immediately. Once you contact them, they will ask you to give a statement about the collision and request details of what occurred. It is important that you do not divulge too much information, as doing so can result in them devaluing your claim and using the information you have given them to establish fault on your behalf.
- Speak with a lawyer – Our law firm recommends that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you have been hit by a drunk driver. A lawyer can speak with your insurance office on your behalf or advise you on what information you should give them to ensure that you are not treated unfairly and that you get the compensation you deserve. The more time a lawyer has to work on your case, the better chance they have at getting you substantial financial recovery for your injuries.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer if I Have Been Hit by a Drunk Driver?
The law in Florida does not require you to have legal representation in order to file a lawsuit or an insurance claim for personal injury cases. However, studies have shown that having the backing of an experienced lawyer increases your chances of receiving a settlement substantially and that, on average, the settlement amount you receive is much higher than without legal assistance.
Some drunk driving accidents settle for less than $10,000, while others can settle for up to millions of dollars. Although having a lawyer does not guarantee you to receive a substantial settlement for drunk driving cases, it does give you a much better opportunity at getting a fair and generous settlement. In addition to this, a lawyer can take over the case completely by speaking with insurance companies on your behalf, gathering evidence, building a strong case, and negotiating with lawyers to ensure that you are not treated unfairly. For these reasons, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to increase your settlement value.
Contact The Law Place Today
If you have been hit by a drunk driver in Florida and are wondering what type of compensation you may be entitled to, you should contact our law firm today. As discussed in this article, there is generally no average settlement for drunk driving cases. However, there are ways in which you can increase the settlement you receive depending on the amount of harm you have suffered and the quality of legal assistance that you have.
Here at The Law Place, we are here to help ensure that you get the settlement you deserve for your drunk driving case. We have built up a strong attorney-client relationship through our 75 years of practice, and we always guarantee the highest standard of legal representation. We offer a free consultation so you can speak with us about your case with absolutely no strings attached. Our priority is ensuring that you are treated fairly and that you get a settlement that represents the harm you have suffered.
Call us today at (941) 444-4444 to schedule a free case evaluation. Our lines are open 24/7.