What is a fair settlement for a personal injury stemming from a DUI accident?

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What is a fair settlement for a personal injury stemming from a DUI accident?

I was recently rear-ended by a drunk driver. Having sporadic back pain in my lower back. I’m about to turn 41. I’ve never had back pain before. On top of lost wages and medical expenses, what should I settle for?

Asked on August 24, 2011 Georgia


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Determining the dollar amount as to what is a fair settlement for a personal injury resulting from a drunk driving incident that you were involved is a difficult thing to ascertain. Value of your injuries in terms of dollars and cents depends upon many factors such as:

1. whether you were at fault or not;

2. the blood alcohol content of the driver who had been drinking alcohol;

3. whether or not the driver of the other car had prior drunk driving convictions;

4. the amount of your past wage loss and any future wage loss;

5. the amount of your past medical bills and future medical bills including prescriptions;

6. the degree of bruising or other physical damages you sustained as evidenced by photographs;

7. your past pain and suffering and future pain and suffering;

8. the cost of any repairs to your car or any other item that was damaged.

In California, the general rule for valuing an injury that essentially has healed is to take the wage loss amounts (past and estimated future) and the medical bills (past and  estimated future) and get a figure. You then double this figure to come up with a ball park figure for pain and suffering (past and future) and then add costs of repair of any item for a general figure to start with with the wage loss and medical bills.

If you have an attorney representing you on this matter, you should defer to his or her opinions as to the value of your matter.

Good luck.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

First, in terms of medical costs and lost wages, remember to factor in future costs--e.g. ongoing therapy, chiropractor, future surgury; dimunition of earning potential--if any. These should be discounted somewhat for the time value of money--getting future costs now.

You are also entitled to pain and suffering, if there is significant, long-lasting pain or disability. There is no firm number for how much you should ask for--every case is different. For a roughly rule of thumb, most pain and suffering awards (if the matter went to trial) would be equal to 1 and 3 times the medical costs. If you settle ahead of trial, you'd typically discount for not having the cost and uncertainty of trail (e.g. take less than you'd get if you had to try the case).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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