Published On: Mon, Oct 7th, 2019

What Types of Compensation Are Common in Drunk Driving Cases?

Despite all our knowledge and preventative strategies, drunk driving continues to be a problem. In 2017, there were 37,133 people killed in traffic crashes. About 10,874 of those, or 29 percent, were due to drunk driving. There are many potential reasons for this, including a culture that heavily focuses on driving and the tendency for alcohol to make you underestimate how drunk you really are. 

Though nothing can bring back the dead or instantly heal the injuries you might sustain in an accident involving a drunk driver, there is some hope for victims. With the help of the right legal team, you could file suit against the offending driver and win compensation for your injuries and distress. 

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But what types of compensation, exactly, are available? 

Types of Compensation in Drunk Driving Cases

These are some of the most common forms of compensation available in drunk driving cases, though these may vary slightly by state and may not apply to all cases: 

  • Direct medical expenses. First, you’ll be entitled for compensation for any and all injuries you sustained in the accident. These expenses include everything from the hours in the immediate aftermath of the accident through the indefinite expenses you might continue paying. For example, you could receive compensation for your immediate hospital visit, any prescription medications and follow-up appointments you have, and future physical therapy sessions, provided you have documentation to prove your needs. 
  • Physical damages. You’ll also be entitled to coverage for physical damages. If your vehicle, home, or other pieces of physical property were harmed in the accident, you deserve to be compensated for them. The offending driver’s insurance company will likely make an offer to cover these damages, but this offer is usually strikingly low
  • Calculated loss of wages. If you missed work because of the accident, either because you were in the hospital or because you were physically unable to come to work, you can be compensated for any wages you may have missed. For example, if you make $300 a day, and you missed 8 days of work, you could be compensated $2,400.
  • Loss of capacity for future earnings. That’s not all. If your injuries are such that they have reduced your capacity for future work, you could be compensated for those hypothetical earnings as well. For example, if your career path includes lots of heavy lifting, but your back and legs were injured in the accident such that heavy lifting will be indefinitely difficult for you, your job opportunities will diminish severely. You could be compensated for the difference in compensation you’ll receive. 
  • Pain and suffering. Your subjective feelings also matter. Going through the pain of your injuries, the trauma of being stuck in a hospital, and the discomfort of no longer being able to go through your normal routine can all negatively affect you. Accordingly, most cases award some kind of compensation for pain and suffering. 
  • Wrongful death. If a close relative of yours died in the accident, you may also be able to seek wrongful death compensation. This is meant to account for the person’s unexpected demise, and can therefore be significant. 
  • Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is a legal concept that refers to the damages done to the quality of a marriage, or loss of intimacy as a result of an accident. For example, if the accident has left you with significant chronic pain, and that pain makes it hard to engage in your relationship the way you used to, you could receive compensation for it. 
  • Punitive damages. In some cases, a judge or jury may also impose punitive damages on the individual responsible for the accident. These damages aren’t tied to something specifically calculable like physical damage, but instead are designed to punish the person responsible for the accident. 

Obviously, there are many variables that could impact which of these types of compensation apply, and how much you could get for each one. The severity of the accident, the way the accident unfolded, the evidence you have in your favor, and other factors will all play a role in how much you get. 

Why Hiring the Right Lawyer Is So Important

If you’ve been the victim of a drunk driving accident, the best thing you can do is hire the best lawyer you can afford. In most cases, lawyers will be willing to meet with you and hear about your case for free—then they’ll only charge you if you end up winning. A good lawyer will be able to dig deeper, coming up with more evidence, finding new angles in which they can pursue the case, and ultimately, better convincing the judge that you deserve the compensation you’re seeking.

Author: Anna Johansson

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