Average Settlement For Being Hit By A Drunk Driver (2024 Data)

The average auto accident settlement amount for those hit by a drunk driver is $262,479 and the median settlement is $48,999, which is a better representation of the typical settlement. Statistical data is based on cases recorded in the last 5 years by Thomson Reuters (between 2019-2024).

Table of Contents
Average settlement chart (hit by drunk driver)
Average settlement chart (hit by drunk driver)

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Settlement data is as follows:

  • Median settlement = $45,000: The median amount is a better representation of the typical settlement amount because it is less influenced by extremely high or low settlements (unlike the average calculation).
  • Average settlement = $444,282: The average settlement amount is a sum of all settlements that include a driver who was deemed to be under the influence of alcohol, and divided by the total number of cases (44).
  • Highest settlement = $12,000,00: An individual was reportedly standing near the dining patio of a bar when an intoxicated driver began reversing a truck at high speed, striking multiple patrons and pinning the individual against a wall. The individual suffered fatal injuries.
  • Lowest settlement = $7,000: An individual, then 13 years old, was a passenger in a vehicle when it was struck by another vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver. The individual suffered neck and back injuries requiring medical treatment due to the accident. A complaint was filed, alleging the accident was caused by the driver’s negligent driving while intoxicated and the vehicle owner’s negligent entrustment of the vehicle. The driver was reportedly driving recklessly at an excessive speed and failed to yield. The parties agreed to settle the individual’s claims for a sum, and court approval of the settlement terms was granted.

Settlement Examples For Individuals Hit By A Drunk Driver

Settlement examples under $100K

  • $42K settlement: A group of individuals, including three minors, were traveling along an interstate when their vehicle was struck from the rear by another vehicle. The driver of the striking vehicle was reportedly under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. The individuals sustained injuries from the collision. They alleged that the driver was negligent due to driving under the influence, driving too fast, disregarding traffic conditions, and failing to apply the brakes or reduce speed. Additionally, they claimed the driver violated state motor vehicle laws, constituting negligence. The vehicle’s owner was also sued. The defendants denied liability and causation, contested damages, and asserted several affirmative defenses including comparative and third-party fault, failure to mitigate damages, assumption of risk, and subsequent accidents.
  • $58K settlement: Plaintiffs, including two minors, sustained injuries when an individual negligently operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, causing a collision with the plaintiffs’ vehicle on a boulevard. The plaintiffs claimed that the driver was uninsured/underinsured at the time of the accident. They sought compensation for their injuries and also asserted a claim for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits against their insurance companies, alleging coverage under the issued policies.
  • $75K settlement: An individual was operating a tractor-trailer on an interstate within the course and scope of employment when the vehicle was struck from the rear by another vehicle. The impact caused the trailer to accelerate and lift off the ground. The individual sustained injuries to the head, neck, and back due to the collision. The individual claimed the other driver’s negligent driving, including failure to maintain a proper lookout, lack of control over the vehicle, excessive speed, and inattentiveness, caused the accident. It was also contended that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. The defendants disputed the nature and extent of the individual’s claimed injuries and damages. The parties agreed to resolve the individual’s claims for a settlement amount, and court approval of the settlement was sought.

Settlement examples between $100K and $1M

  • $110K settlement: A minor was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle when the driver lost control while traveling at a high speed, resulting in the vehicle rolling over multiple times. The minor sustained personal injuries, and a back-seat passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was charged with multiple counts, including homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration, and first-degree reckless homicide. Medical bills alone were nearly $10,000.
  • $502K settlement: An individual was driving a pickup truck on a road when another driver operating a farm tractor pulling a lawnmower suddenly turned in front of the truck, causing a collision. The individual suffered injuries to the foot and ankle, including a heel fracture that required surgery. The individual alleged that the farm tractor driver failed to yield the right-of-way, did not maintain a proper lookout, and lost control of the tractor. Additionally, it was claimed that the tractor driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, leading to gross negligence. The individual argued that the tractor driver was acting within the scope of employment, making the employer vicariously liable, and that the employer negligently entrusted the tractor to an allegedly negligent driver, failing to properly train and supervise. The individual sought damages for personal injuries, medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical disfigurement, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and physical impairment, along with exemplary damages for gross negligence. The defendants denied the allegations and liability, contending the individual’s own negligence contributed to the collision and disputing the nature and extent of the injuries and damages.
  • $763.7K settlement: An individual driving while intoxicated struck a vehicle carrying three minors, causing a collision and then fleeing the scene. The three minors claimed to have suffered injuries. They alleged that the driver was negligent, grossly negligent, and displayed reckless disregard by operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. They sought compensation for their injuries and the associated damages.

Settlement examples over $1M

  • $1.3M settlement: An individual filed a lawsuit against several parties, alleging that while driving on an interstate, slowed down for officers attending to an accident ahead. Another driver, traveling at high speed, struck her vehicle from behind, causing the plaintiff to collide with the vehicle in front. As a result, an individual in the backseat was killed, and the driver and a minor passenger were injured. The driver who caused the collision had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit and had been drinking at an establishment operated by the defendants. The plaintiffs contended that the defendants violated the state’s Dram Shop Act by serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and brought claims accordingly. While the minor sustained minimal physical injuries, they suffered significant emotional trauma.
  • $1.825M settlement: An individual was standing on a sidewalk in front of a building when a motorist left the road, came onto the sidewalk, and struck the individual. The motorist was allegedly driving while intoxicated. The individual sustained personal injuries, resulting in a disability designation. The individual’s guardian filed a complaint against the motorist, alleging negligence and gross negligence. It was claimed that the motorist operated the vehicle recklessly, with willful and wanton disregard for safety, and under the influence of alcohol. The complaint sought damages for personal injuries, medical expenses, lost earnings, and loss of future earning capacity, as well as punitive damages, interest, and costs. The matter concluded with a settlement where the defendant and the insurance company agreed to pay the plaintiff specified amounts. The court approved the settlement terms, ordered the defendant to maintain a term insurance policy payable to the plaintiff, and dismissed the matter with prejudice.

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Factors That Affect How Much Your Settlement May Be Worth

Several factors can influence the settlement amount for an individual who has been hit by a drunk driver. These factors include:

Severity of Injuries: The extent and severity of the injuries sustained in the accident play a crucial role. More severe injuries that result in long-term or permanent disability, chronic pain, or extensive medical treatment typically result in higher settlements.

🛈 Example: If an individual sustains a mild concussion, the settlement might be lower compared to an individual who suffers a severe spinal injury requiring surgery and long-term care.

Medical Expenses: The cost of medical treatment, including hospital stays, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation, and ongoing care, is a significant factor. Future medical expenses related to the injuries are also considered.

🛈 Example: An individual with medical expenses totaling nearly $110K due to multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation would likely receive a higher settlement than someone with medical expenses of a few thousand dollars for minor treatments.

Lost Wages: If the injured individual is unable to work due to their injuries, the settlement may include compensation for lost wages. This includes both past and future lost earnings, as well as loss of earning capacity if the injuries affect the individual’s ability to work in the future.

🛈 Example: If an individual cannot work for several months and loses nearly $50K in wages, the settlement will be higher compared to someone who only misses a few days of work with minimal lost income.

Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional suffering endured as a result of the accident is often a substantial part of the settlement. This can include mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

🛈 Example: An individual experiencing chronic pain and emotional distress due to the accident may receive a higher settlement than someone who recovers quickly and does not experience significant suffering.

Permanent Disability or Disfigurement: If the injuries result in permanent disability or disfigurement, the settlement amount is likely to be higher to account for the long-term impact on the individual’s quality of life.

🛈 Example: An individual who becomes permanently disabled and requires lifelong care will receive a higher settlement than someone who makes a full recovery without lasting effects.

Liability and Fault: Clear evidence of the drunk driver’s liability and fault in causing the accident can influence the settlement amount. If the driver is found to be grossly negligent, it can lead to higher compensation.

🛈 Example: If there is clear evidence that the drunk driver was entirely at fault, the settlement will be higher compared to a situation where fault is shared between the parties.

Punitive Damages: In cases involving drunk driving, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the at-fault driver and deter similar behavior in the future. These damages can significantly increase the overall settlement amount.

🛈 Example: In cases where the drunk driver had a very high blood alcohol concentration and a history of DUI offenses, punitive damages may significantly increase the settlement amount.

Insurance Coverage: The insurance policy limits of both the at-fault driver and the injured individual can affect the settlement amount. If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient, the injured individual’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may come into play.

🛈 Example: If the at-fault driver has an insurance policy with a limit of $1 million, the settlement may be higher than if the policy limit is only $100K, assuming the injuries warrant a higher amount.

Impact on Daily Life: The effect of the injuries on the individual’s daily activities, hobbies, and personal relationships can also influence the settlement. The more profound the impact, the higher the potential compensation.

🛈 Example: If the injuries prevent the individual from participating in activities they previously enjoyed, such as sports or hobbies, the settlement might be higher to compensate for this loss.

Legal Representation: The experience and skill of the attorney representing the injured individual can also affect the settlement amount. A competent attorney can effectively negotiate and advocate for maximum compensation.

🛈 Example: An experienced attorney may secure a higher settlement by effectively negotiating and presenting a strong case compared to an inexperienced attorney.

Jurisdiction: The location where the accident occurred and the legal jurisdiction can also influence the settlement amount, as some jurisdictions may have higher average settlements or different legal precedents.

🛈 Example: This includes governing laws (such as dram shop), and other legal considerations like the statute of limitations or deadline for filing a car accident claim.

Evidence and Documentation: The availability and quality of evidence, including medical records, witness statements, and expert testimony, can impact the settlement negotiations and the final amount.

🛈 Example: Comprehensive evidence, including detailed medical records, expert testimony, and eyewitness accounts, can strengthen the case and lead to a higher settlement.

Each car accident is unique, and settlement amounts for individuals who have been hit by a drunk driver will vary based on many factors. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure that the drunk driver is held accountable and you receive a fair settlement.

Getting started with your injury claim is easy. Just request a free case evaluation online, and a legal team in our network will reach out to you regarding your case. Our network of attorneys includes a team of over 250+ legal professionals throughout the United States with over $1 billion recovered for clients, including those who have suffered injuries from being hit by a drunk driver.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How are drunk driver settlements calculated?

How car accident settlements are calculated varies, but generally a formula is used. For example, the multiplier method takes into account the total economic, and uses a multiplier to determined the final settlement amount. Factors such as the severity of injuries, liability, insurance coverage, and the impact on daily life can influence the multiplier used, while comprehensive evidence and quality legal representation can further affect the final settlement calculation.

How long will my case take to finalize?

The duration of a drunk driving settlement can vary from a few months to over a year, depending on factors such as the severity of injuries, complexity of the case, and responsiveness of the insurance company. Simple cases may settle quickly, while more complex cases involving extensive negotiations or a trial can take significantly longer.

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We use settlement calculators to help individuals estimate how much compensation they may receive from their personal injury claim. We partner with law firms throughout the United States to help produce the most accurate results. Our content and calculators are created with the help of top-rated attorneys and legal professionals.

Accident type Avg. Settlement
Drunk driver $262,479
Uninsured driver $128,129
Hit-and-run $87,233
Rear-end $181,309
Injury type Avg. Settlement
Back & neck $263,030
Herniated disc $220,066
Concussion $347,046
Whiplash $121,542
PTSD $762,436

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