What is the Average Settlement for a Drunk Driving Accident in California?

You should reach out to an attorney if you were recently injured by a drunk driver in California and get more clarity about what an average settlement can be.

average settlement for drunk driving accident california

Our lawyers looked back at our drunk driving lawsuit settlements to determine the average settlement for a drunk driving accident.

The average settlement for drunk driving accidents in California varies depending on the severity of injuries. Generally, settlements range from $50,000 to $100,000, but cases involving more serious injuries or property damage can yield settlements upwards of $150,000. It is crucial to consult a legal expert for precise evaluation and guidance tailored to the specifics of your case

However, every accident is different and there will be different factors that go into your case.

Drunk driving poses a serious public health risk. According to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control, one in three U.S. traffic deaths involve a drunk driver.

Despite a steady decline from its peak of 5,412 in 1989, California experiences thousands of drunk driving fatalities each year. 

The reduction in fatalities is a positive development, as is the fact that Californians admit to getting behind the wheel after drinking too much at a rate that is lower than the national average.

However, drunk driving accidents continue to be a serious public health problem with far-reaching consequences. 

If you or a loved one is hit by a drunk driver, you know personally how such an event can affect your life. At this point, you may have many questions. Questions like: 

  • What should you do next?
  • What can you expect from a hit-by-drunk driver settlement? 
  • Do you need a lawyer?
  • What amount is typical in drunk driver accident settlements?
  • I got hit by a drunk driver, what am I entitled to?
  • Can I recover from pain and suffering after being hit by a drunk driver?

These are valid questions and below, Starpoint Law has answered your most important questions.

If you are interested in speaking with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, please contact us today.

Is There an Average Settlement For Drunk Driving Accidents?

No. There is no average settlement for drunk driving lawsuit settlements.

Every accident has a unique set of circumstances surrounding it, so it is impossible to assign a dollar value to an 'average' drunk driving accident settlement.

However, there are certain factors that are critical in determining a drunk driver's settlement amount.

Needless to say, estimating the average settlement for a drunk driving accident in California is generic and every drunk driving accident settlement is different based on the circumstances.

Important Factors Affecting Drunk Driver Settlement Amounts

While there are many factors that will affect the final amount of a drunk driver settlement, the most critical factors are the extent and type of damages, and comparative fault or negligence. 


As with most states, in California, damages are split into economic and non-economic damages.

Essentially, economic damages are monetary damages. They include:

  • Cost to repair property damage;
  • Medical costs (including hospital stays, mental health evaluations, physical rehabilitation, surgery, etc.);
  • Funeral or burial costs;
  • Loss of earning potential;
  • Loss of wages; and
  • Loss of employment or loss of future wages.

All of these damages have a finite monetary value attached to them. Damages with a high value, such as death, surgery, or loss of employment, can significantly increase the final dollar amount of a settlement.

On the other hand, non-economic damages cause damage but don't have a specific monetary value. Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Loss of society and companionship; and
  • Injury to reputation or humiliation.

These damages don't cost money. You do not receive a bill for the pain you suffer but that does not make the damage that pain causes any less real. 

California's law also permits the recovery of punitive damages in drunk driving cases. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for willful and dangerous conduct. To recover punitive damages, you must show that:

  • the drunk driver voluntarily consumed alcohol or drugs to the point of intoxication; and
  • The drunk driver knew that he/she would have to drive after.

It also helps to show that the drunk driver had driven drunk in the past. Your lawyer can find this information through discovery. 

Whether or not these damages apply to your case, and to what extent, can affect your final settlement amount. It’s important to consult an attorney immediately if you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver.  

Comparative Fault or Negligence

California is a pure comparative negligence state. According to pure comparative negligence rules, damages are only recoverable by someone based on their proportion of fault.

For example, if you and the other party are both equally at fault, you are equally responsible for damages. Similarly, if you are 20% at fault, the other party is responsible for 80% of the damages.

In an accident involving a drunk driver, the comparative fault would apply if, for example, the person struck by a drunk driver was walking in the middle of a dark road, wearing dark clothing, and facing away from traffic. In that situation, the victim’s actions likely contributed to the accident.

The comparative fault would come into play if a drunk driver's vehicle was struck by another motorist who was texting and driving. In that situation, the drunk driver would likely face criminal charges.

However, in a civil claim, the comparative fault or negligence of the person texting while driving would come into play and potentially affect the final settlement amount.

Average Settlement for Being Hit by a Drunk Driver in California  

Unfortunately, it is impossible to assign a dollar amount as an average settlement for being hit by a drunk driver in California.

Although you might be wondering, “I got hit by a drunk driver, what am I entitled to?” the short answer is it’s not that straightforward.

A multitude of factors will influence the amount of compensation you may be entitled to including:

  • Is there more than one defendant?
  • How serious are your injuries?
  • Will you make a full recovery?

Each case is unique. It is best to speak with an experienced car accident attorney to discuss the factors relevant to your situation.

A skilled attorney will be able to identify avenues of recovery available to you. Contact Starpoint Law today to schedule a free no-obligation consultation!

How A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Resolve Drunk Driving Lawsuit Settlements

Because each drunk driving accident case is unique, it is crucial to have a lawyer on your side to help resolve your drunk driving lawsuit settlements. Your lawyer will help you collect evidence and determine the extent of the damages.

Importantly, a lawyer will also help navigate comparative negligence rules to show that you are not at fault.

The other party's insurance company will try to prove you are 100% at fault and has lawyers to do so. To be on equal footing, you should have a lawyer too.

Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one is hit by a drunk driver, we at Starpoint Law are here to help. Based in Los Angeles, we focus on helping our clients get the justice they deserve and giving back to our community.

Please, don't just take our word for it; read prior client testimonials to get to know us. Our website has a 24/7 chat feature, so don't hesitate to contact us online or call at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is the Average Personal Injury Settlement in California?

There is no average settlement for personal injury lawsuits in California.

Each individual case is unique, and the facts and circumstances pertaining to your case may be drastically different from those of another case.

If you were a pedestrian hit by a drunk driver, your settlement amount will likely be much higher than that of someone who was involved in a small fender bender.

A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine the amount of compensation you may be entitled to. 

What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident in California?

As with any personal injury lawsuit, there is no average settlement for a car accident. The amount of recovery will depend on the seriousness of your injuries and extent of damages.

If you were rear-ended by a drunk driver, your settlement amount will likely be different from that of someone who was rear-ended by a slow-rolling vehicle at a stop sign.

The difference in the amount of compensation will hinge on the other driver’s negligence, extent of damage to the vehicle, and severity of any injuries.

There are infinite causes of car accidents making it impossible to say with any degree of certainty the average settlement amount.

It would be unfair and frankly improper to group all car accident settlements into one lump sum. 

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident in California?

In California, there is no monetary limit for how much someone can sue for a car accident. A plaintiff can seek any amount of money necessary to cover their damages.

However, the amount of the other party’s insurance policy limits may put a practical limit on the amount you can recover.

In the end, the specific amount of damages sought can range from a few thousand to millions of dollars.

The severity of the accident and injuries will determine how much compensation a plaintiff may be entitled to.

An experienced car accident attorney will be able to help you determine how much your case may be worth. 

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.