Unfortunately, it is not possible to a give a dollar amount for an “average settlement” for being hit by a drunk driver in Michigan. The first question we usually receive about drunk driving accident cases is how much am I entitled to for my drunk driver settlement? In short, it depends. There are very many different factors that will determine how much your individual case is actually worth. Some of these include:
- How many defendants are there?
- How serious are the injuries you have sustained?
- Does your doctor believe that you will make a full recovery?
Every auto accident settlement case is unique, so it’s important to talk to a car accident lawyer that is experienced dealing with cases involving drunk drivers. An attorney will help identify all the different avenues for getting you the most amount of financial compensation for you. Call The Clark Law Office today for a free consultation regarding your personal injury claim.
What Factors Determine Drunk Driving Settlements?
As mentioned previously, the amount of your settlement for a drunk driving accident will vary greatly depending on a few factors. Michigan is a no-fault state so a drunk driving case will typically have 2 different types of a personal injury lawsuit. The first will be against your own insurance company for what is referred to “first party benefits“. This will include compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, medical mileage, and replacement services. If you have severe injuries, your medical costs will be quite high which will increase the potential of recovering a higher dollar amount. If you have a good job with a large salary, you will be able to recover more lost wages because you have lost more income than someone who is unemployed. As you can see, the severity of injuries and more lost wages will increase the amount of your first party settlement.
In addition to this, you can file a lawsuit against the at fault driver. Since the other driver was drunk, it’s relatively easy to prove that they were negligent. Once again the amount you sue the at fault driver depends on the severity of your physical and mental injures. There is a threshold under Michigan law which must be passed in order to legally file a lawsuit against the at fault driver. This threshold is what is referred to as a serious impairment of a body function. If you just have minor injuries such as bruising, lacerations, etc then you will not be able to collect in a lawsuit against the at fault driver or “third party lawsuit“. If however, you injuries are serious such a broken bones, major concussion, amputation, etc than you will pass this threshold test and have a viable lawsuit. Once you pass this threshold test, you are eligible to sue for your pain/suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and a physical disfigurement or impairment.
Do I Need To Hire An Attorney For My Drunk Driving Accident?
While it is not required by lawyer to hire an attorney to file a lawsuit, you will likely make mistakes that will end up costing you much more than the cost of hiring an attorney. Study after study has shown that having an experienced lawyer on your side increases your likelihood of receiving a settlement that is substantially larger that the amount you would receive without legal representation.
Some drunk driving accidents settle for less than $15,000, while others will settle for millions of dollars. Hiring a lawyer will not guarantee a large drunk driving accident settlement, but it does give you a much higher chance of receiving a fair settlement. An experienced lawyer knows what to do and what not to do when building the strength of your case. It is always highly recommended to hire a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases to increase your settlement value.
What Should If I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver?
In the moments right after a car accident, you might be confused, in shock, and not thinking clearly. This is certainly understandable, but it’s important that you take the appropriate measures so your drunk driving car accident settlement isn’t negatively impacted or taken away altogether. If you have been hit by a drunk driver, you should follow these steps to ensure your safety and give the highest probability of a high compensation award :
Seek Medical Treatment
Your first concern should always be your health and safety. Even if you don’t think your injuries are serious, you should always get them documented by a medical professional. Having this on record is paramount to your case and often times injuries will actually get worse once the shock and adrenaline has left your body. Don’t try to tough it, just get checked by a doctor.
Contact The Police
Once you are a safe position, it’s critical to notify law enforcement as soon as possible. An officer will arrive to the scene and make a police report (a critical piece of evidence). This report will contain a wealth of information about the accident including the timeline of events, any witness statements, the contact information of both you and the other driver, and statements from all relative parties, and most likely a confirmation that the other driver was in fact drunk or drinking. In a drunk driving accident case this is especially important.
Remain At The Scene of Drunk Driving Accidents
This should go without saying, but you need to stay at the scene of the accident until law enforcement arrives and finishes their report. This is especially important in drunk driving cases. Not only can you be charged criminally if you fail to do so, but you can ruin the chances of collecting any compensation at all.
Collect All Possible Evidence
You also need to advocate for yourself by collecting any additional evidence possible. You should exchange insurance information with the other parties, try to talk to all the witnesses and write down their names, and take lots of photos/videos of the accident scene. If there is a dispute later down the road, you will have plenty of proof about what actually happened.
Contact Your Insurance Company About The Accident
You are required to contact your insurance company about the accident in a timely fashion by law. They will most likely ask you to give a statement about what happened. Keep this as brief and simple as possible to avoid saying something accidentally that could effect your case. Insurance companies have been know to twist your words in order to avoid paying you.
Speak To A Car Accident Lawyer
Contacting a lawyer early in the process can only benefit you and your chances of a fair settlement. A personal injury lawyer can talk to the insurance companies on your behalf or advise you what information you should provide in all drunk driving lawsuit settlements. The earlier a lawyer can start building your case, the more likely you are to recover a large settlement for a drunk driving accident.
Contact The Clark Law Office Today For a Free Consultation
Attorneys David M. Clark and Matthew R. Clark specialize in helping victims in car accidents and personal injury lawsuits. We have won millions for our clients and we can help you too. We will do everything in our power to ensure that you get the settlement that you deserve. We offer free consultations to all potential clients and work on contingency. This means we will cover all the expenses of bringing your lawsuit(s) and you will owe nothing unless you win. Call us today at (517) 347-6900.