28 May 2019,

Pain and Suffering: Hit By a Drunk Driver


Suffering injuries in an accident caused by a drunk driver is devastating. Not only can a person sustain serious and life-threatening injuries, but that person’s family can also suffer the consequences.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 10,327 people sustained fatal injuries in drunk driving collisions in California between 2003-2012.

About 1.8 percent of adults in California report they have driven after drinking too much in the last 30 days.

Financial compensation for hospital bills, other medical costs, and lost wages can be extremely important for ensuring a person injured by a drunk driver can begin to recover. Without worrying about paying bills or earning income, there are also other significant types of damages that a plaintiff in a drunk driving case might want to seek.

Most significantly, many people who suffer injuries in a crash want to know about damages for pain and suffering. Are you searching for information with keywords and phrases like “pain and suffering hit by a drunk driver,”? If the answer is yes, you should seek advice from an experienced California DUI accident lawyer today.

Understanding Pain and Suffering Damages in California

Generally speaking, California law allows persons who are injured in car accidents to seek two different types of compensatory damages. Both are aimed at compensating that person for his or her losses:

  • Economic damages (these are precise economic losses that are tied to an objective dollar figure, such as the cost of surgery, a specific set of hospital bills, or lost wages based on pay stubs); and
  • Noneconomic damages (these are more subjective damages that cover losses like physical pain, mental suffering, and emotional distress—all of which do not have an objective dollar figure that can be applied in each case).

California law makes clear that “no fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of . . . noneconomic damages.” Accordingly, the court must use its judgment to decide on a reasonable amount based on the evidence presented in the case and “common sense.” When a person is seeking noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, that person can seek two different types of damages for pain and suffering:

  • Past noneconomic damages (meaning those that the plaintiff already has experienced); and
  • Future noneconomic damages.

To obtain future noneconomic damages, the plaintiff must be able to show that she or he is “reasonably certain to suffer that harm.” What is pain and suffering under California law? While the term is relatively broad, California law cites the following as examples of noneconomic damages that a court can consider when deciding how much to award a plaintiff:

  • Physical pain;
  • Mental suffering;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Physical impairment;
  • Inconvenience;
  • Grief;
  • Anxiety;
  • Humiliation; and/or
  • Emotional distress.

Average Drunk Driver Settlement in California

Many people who suffer injuries in collisions caused by drunk drivers will seek reasonable settlements before taking their cases to court. While you may be wondering what the average drunk driver settlement looks like in California, there really is no average given. So, the total settlement or verdict really is dependent upon the specific facts of the case.

When determining a settlement amount for pain and suffering—and other noneconomic damages—there are many factors that will be taken into account. For example, the settlement offer can vary widely depending upon:

  • Severity of the injury;
  • How long the injury will last;
  • Whether the injury is likely to be permanent; and
  • Whether the injury caused disfigurement.

Many other factors can affect the average settlement of a claim. So, you should always talk to a California DUI accident lawyer about your case.

Contact a California Car Accident Lawyer

Seeking compensation for pain and suffering in a car crash can have complications, but a California car accident attorney can assist you. Contact Levinson Law Group today to start developing your case.