Despite a decades-long crackdown against drivers, alcohol still causes about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in Nevada. Typically, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) know or suspect that they are too impaired to drive, but they get behind the wheel anyway. Due to the violent nature of these crashes and the cavalier attitude of most tortfeasors, compensation in these claims is usually significant.
However, it’s very difficult to ascertain the average settlement amount for drunk driving accidents. The average lawsuit settlement amount is like the average cost of a new car. There is such a difference between the $12,000 Nissan Versa and the $13 million Rolls Royce Sweptail that the average cost is almost meaningless.
A new car’s cost depends on many factors, and so does a lawsuit settlement amount. The most important factor is probably the abilities of a Las Vegas personal injury attorney. Some other prominent factors are discussed below.
Facts of the Case
The fatality rate is very high in these collisions, and the serious injury rate is high as well. Generally, the more severe the injuries, the higher the medical bills, and the higher the average settlement for a drunk driving accident.
Medical bills are usually for the foundation of all car crash settlements. In a serious injury case, like a head injury, the medical bills are often close to $100,000. For catastrophic injuries, like serious burns or spinal injuries, the medical bills could be ten times as much, or even higher.
Generally, serious injuries also mean vehicle replacement and lengthy time away from work. These additional economic damages could be as high, or even higher, than the medical bills.
To determine an amount for pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and other noneconomic damages, most Las Vegas personal injury attorneys multiply the economic losses by three or four.
Legal Defenses and the Average Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident
A number of factors affect this calculation. For example, some tortfeasors have limited insurance coverage. Unless third-party liability is a factor, and it often is, there is no point in demanding more money than the tortfeasor’s insurance company will pay.
Perhaps more importantly, there are a number of legal defenses in car crash cases. Contributory negligence is probably the most common one.
This doctrine essentially shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, the insurance company may admit that the tortfeasor was drunk, but it may argue that the victim’s speeding primarily caused the crash.
In these situations, the jury must divide fault between the two parties. If the victim was going really fast and the tortfeasor was only slightly intoxicated, the jury may significantly reduce the victim’s damages. The reverse is also true.
Nevada is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.
Team Up with an Experienced Attorney
Drunk drivers cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas, contact Henness & Haight, Injury Attorneys. We routinely handle matters in Clark County and nearby jurisdictions.