Many people who have been victims of drunk driving car accidents wonder what their settlement offers will look like. Every settlement is just as unique as the accident that happened. For this reason, victims of serious driving under the influence (DUI) accidents will want to consider all the factors that go into determining how much a crash is worth monetarily.
Those who have been involved in a car accident involving an impaired driver are urged to reach out to a seasoned car accident lawyer for assistance.
Who was Liable for the Accident?
It might seem obvious that during an accident involving a drunk driver, the drunk driver would be held liable. After all, about one out of every three highway fatalities can be linked to drunk driving. Yet the drunk driver may only be partially responsible for the accident. This means that the injured victim could also be deemed responsible for causing the accident.
New York follows a rule of pure comparative fault, which means that a victim who is awarded a third-party claim settlement may have the settlement figure reduced by the percentage of the victim’s fault. For example, if the injured victim is found to be 10 percent at fault for the accident, the victim’s settlement will be reduced by 10 percent. If the settlement was $50,000, the victim would receive $45,000, or 90 percent of the total.
Determining liability is therefore important when it comes to how much of a settlement the victim receives. Liability is typically gauged by analyzing police reports, looking at crash scene photos, checking surveillance photos, proving a DUI charge and conviction, talking with witnesses, and, if needed, speaking with accident reconstruction experts.
What Were the Economic Versus Non-Economic Damages?
Car accident damages can fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are fairly streamlined because they relate to actual out-of-pocket costs. As an example, medical bills paid to doctors, surgeons, and chiropractors would be considered economic damages. Also included would be lost wages or the cost to restore property, such as a damaged or totaled car.
After adding up the victim’s already paid and reasonably expected costs, the figure will become the total economic damages. What, then, are non-economic damages? They are what falls under the blanket term pain and suffering.
Non-economic damages are impacts that the accident has on a victim’s life and experiences, such as the inability to work in the same occupation or struggling with years of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Non-economic damages are much harder to calculate because they do not come with an invoice. Therefore, how are they determined? Normally, non-economic damages are estimated to be anywhere from one to four times the amount of economic damages.
Taking this a step further, that would mean that if a victim’s economic damages were $5,000, the non-economic damages would be anything from $5,000 to $20,000. In that situation, a fair settlement might range from $10,000 to $25,000. However, this is not an exact science, which is why so many victims work with car accident lawyers to determine which non-economic amount makes sense.
What is the Insurance Policy Limit?
Another factor that goes into how much of a settlement a victim will receive, at least from the insurance provider, is the policy limit. In New York, victims’ own auto insurance covers their injuries under their personal insurance protection (PIP). The minimum PIP required in the state is $50,000. Therefore, victims whose economic and non-economic total damages exceed $50,000 may want to file third-party lawsuits against the drunk driver to recover the balance.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer After a DUI Accident?
Trying to recover a fair settlement offer from an insurance carrier, or attempting to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit, can be challenging without the help of a car accident lawyer. This is especially true for victims of DUI accidents who have been severely hurt and require a good deal of medical treatment. Before accepting any settlement offers, all victims should consider talking with a lawyer, just to make sure they do not accept a modest offer that might sound good in the moment but will be inadequate in the long run.
Brooklyn Car Accident Lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano Help Victims After DUI Accidents
If you have been involved in a DUI accident that left you with bills, as well as pain and suffering, reach out to the Brooklyn car accident lawyers at Eaton & Torrenzano for assistance. We can investigate your accident and determine how you should be compensated for your injuries, lost wages, pain, or suffering. Call us today at 718-332-7766 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York, and Hillsborough, New Jersey, we serve clients in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Manhattan, Kings County, and Richmond County.