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June 30, 2024 | Car Accidents

Average Settlement if Hit by a Drunk Driver in New York

The average settlement for victims hit by a drunk driver in New York typically ranges from $80,000 to over $1,000,000. However, the final amount can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of injuries, extent of property damage, liability issues, and insurance coverage.

Understanding the average settlement range for such cases in New York can provide valuable insight into what you may expect for a fair settlement. This page offers more information on the typical settlement amounts and the factors that influence them.

I got hit by a drunk driver, what am I entitled to?

If you've been hit by a drunk driver, you may be entitled to various types of damages. These can generally be categorized into economic and non-economic damages.

  • Economic Damages: Cover tangible losses such as medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, property damage, lost wages, and any other financial impacts directly resulting from the accident.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Compensates for intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-monetary impacts on your well-being.

Consulting with a New York City car accident lawyer can help you understand the full extent of damages you may be entitled to and navigate the process of seeking compensation effectively.

Punitive damages for a DUI

Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages aim to punish the defendant for their reckless behavior and deter similar conduct in the future. They are awarded in addition to compensatory damages and are intended to send a message that such behavior will not be tolerated by society.

However, punitive damages are not guaranteed and are typically awarded in cases where the defendant's actions were particularly egregious or malicious.

Drunk driver settlement amounts by type

When seeking the average car accident settlement after being hit by a drunk driver, compensation amounts can vary depending on the type of accident:


The average rear-ended by drunk driver settlement amount is between $80,000 and $125,000. However, it's important to recognize that each accident is unique, with varying degrees of severity and numerous factors influencing the calculation of damages. 

Factors such as the extent of injuries, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and liability issues all contribute to the final payout.

Head on-collision

The average head-on collision settlement amount ranges from several thousand dollars to over $1,000,000. The wide range reflects the severity and complexity of these accidents, as well as the diverse factors involved in determining compensation.

Factors such as the speed of impact, the size and weight of vehicles involved, the extent of injuries sustained by occupants, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and long-term disability all play vital roles in shaping the settlement outcome.

Factors that influence settlement amounts in New York

When seeking a settlement for a personal injury claim, various factors come into play that can significantly impact the final compensation amount: 

  • Severity of injuries: More severe injuries typically result in higher compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Liability: Establishing fault is essential in personal injury cases. If the defendant's negligence is clear and uncontested, it strengthens the claimant's position and may lead to a higher settlement offer.
  • Comparative negligence: New York follows a comparative negligence system, where compensation is reduced by the claimant's percentage of fault.
  • Insurance coverage: Higher policy limits provide more potential compensation for the claimant. Conversely, if the at-fault party has minimal or no insurance, the settlement may be limited, leading the victim to seek damages through their own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
  • Evidence and documentation: The strength of the evidence supporting the claim, including medical records, witness statements, and accident reports, can impact the settlement. Thorough documentation strengthens the claimant's position during negotiations.
  • Impact on daily life: The extent to which the injuries impact the claimant's daily life, including their ability to work, engage in activities, and enjoy life, is considered when determining damages. Severe injuries that result in long-term or permanent disability can lead to higher settlements due to the significant lifestyle changes and ongoing care required. 
  • Pre-existing conditions: Pre-existing medical conditions can complicate personal injury claims. The extent to which the accident exacerbates these conditions and affects the claimant's overall health is taken into account during negotiations.
  • Legal representation: Experienced personal injury attorneys understand how to build strong cases, negotiate effectively with insurance companies, and maximize payout for their clients.

Contact our team of expert lawyers today so we can help you increase the value of your settlement

Who you can sue

There are a few potential parties that can be held liable in various situations:

  • The Driver: Drunk driving constitutes negligent behavior, making the driver primarily liable for accidents and resulting damages. Their actions endanger not only themselves but also other road users, leading to severe consequences.
  • Bars/Restaurants: If they knowingly serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals who later cause accidents, they may share responsibility for the consequences. Establishments have a duty of care to ensure patrons' safety by responsibly serving alcohol and preventing intoxicated individuals from driving.
  • Multiple Parties: In cases where the intoxicated driver and the establishment serving them are liable, claims can be filed against both. Pursuing multiple parties for liability increases the chances of receiving full compensation for damages incurred by the victim or their family. This ensures that all responsible parties are held accountable for their role in the tragic event.

Additional reading: can you sue someone for a hit-and-run?

Minimum NY insurance coverage

In New York State, drivers are required to carry specific minimum insurance coverage to legally operate a motor vehicle on public roads. These requirements are put in place to ensure that drivers have financial protection in case of accidents.

  • Bodily Injury Liability: New York law mandates that drivers carry Bodily Injury Liability coverage with minimum limits of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and legal expenses for injuries caused to other individuals in an accident where the insured driver is at fault.
  • Property Damage Liability: Additionally, drivers in New York are required to have Property Damage Liability coverage with a minimum limit of $10,000. This coverage helps cover the costs of repairing or replacing other people's property, such as vehicles, fences, or buildings, that are damaged in an accident caused by the insured driver.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: New York law also mandates that insurance policies include Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. UM coverage provides protection if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance, while UIM coverage helps cover expenses if the at-fault driver's insurance limits are insufficient to cover your damages. The minimum limits for UM and UIM coverage are typically the same as the Bodily Injury Liability limits, i.e., $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

Should you accept the settlement offer?

Determining whether to accept a settlement offer requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure fair compensation for injuries sustained. While settlement offers may seem enticing, it's essential to evaluate them thoroughly, taking into account future medical needs, ongoing care costs, and the long-term impact on quality of life.

  • Future Medical Needs: The extent of injuries and anticipate future medical expenses, including rehabilitation, surgeries, and ongoing treatments. The payout should adequately cover these anticipated costs to avoid financial strain in the future.
  • Ongoing Care Costs: Factor in the costs of ongoing care and support services needed due to the injuries sustained. These may include home healthcare, physical therapy, or specialized medical equipment.
  • Impact on Quality of Life, including the ability to work, engage in daily activities, and enjoy recreational pursuits. Consider the non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Steps to take after being hit by a drunk driver

When you've been hit by a drunk driver, these steps will protect you legally and ensure you receive the maximum settlement amount for your damages:

  1. Ensure Safety: First and foremost, ensure your safety and the safety of others involved in the accident. Move to a safe location away from traffic if possible and assess yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, call emergency services immediately.
  2. Contact Law Enforcement: Call 911 to report the accident and request police assistance. Law enforcement will document the scene, gather evidence, and create an official accident report, which will be crucial for your insurance claim and any legal proceedings.
  3. Gather Evidence: Take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks, and road conditions. Gather contact information from witnesses and record their statements, if possible.
  4. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don't believe you're seriously injured, some injuries, such as whiplash or internal injuries, may not be immediately apparent but can worsen over time. Document all injuries and medical treatments for your insurance claim.
  5. Do Not Admit Fault: Avoid discussing fault or admitting guilt at the accident scene, especially if you're unsure about the circumstances. Stick to factual information when speaking to the police, other drivers, or witnesses. Anything you say could be used against you during insurance negotiations or legal proceedings.
  6. Notify Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the accident, including the other driver's information and the police report number. Cooperate fully with your insurer's investigation process.
  7. Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer: A lawyer can provide valuable guidance, protect your legal rights, and help you navigate the complexities of the claims process. They will work to maximize your settlement amount and ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages.

Need legal help to pursue a DUI settlement in the Empire State?

If you or a loved one has been injured by someone driving under the influence, don't wait to seek legal help. Contact an experienced drunk driving attorney from our firm to discuss your specific situation and explore your legal options. Your initial consultation is free, allowing you to gain valuable insights into the strength of your case and the potential for pursuing a settlement.

Take action today to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Contact us at our law firm today if you were in a drunk driving accident.


Who pays drunk driver damages?

Typically, the drunk driver's insurance would cover damages resulting from the accident. However, if the driver's insurance isn't sufficient, the driver might be personally responsible for the remaining damages. Additionally, in some cases, dram shop laws hold establishments accountable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals.

How much do lawyers take from a settlement in New York?

In New York, personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis, taking a percentage of the settlement or court award. Most contingency fees are around 33.3%, but it can vary based on the complexity of the case and other factors. However, clients should clarify this percentage before signing any agreements.

How is pain and suffering calculated in a car accident in New York?

Pain and suffering in New York car accidents are often calculated based on the severity of injuries, duration of recovery, and the impact on the individual's life. Multipliers, ranging from 1.5 to 5, may be applied to the economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages) to determine the non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

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