Visitor Question

Pedestrian hit by 16-year-old teen driver: What’s fair compensation?

Submitted By: Ivan (Denver, Colorado)

I was hit on a crosswalk by an intoxicated 16 yr old driving his dad’s car. He did not stop at the stop sign, and was driving over the limit. He is charged with misdemeanor and two traffic felonies (DUI and hit and run).

I was hospitalized with stable fibula fracture, and inferior/superior pubic rami fractures. Lots of bruises, neck and back pain, few wounds, and trauma. Lots of painkillers, blood clots injections, constipation pills, insomnia, depression therapy… can not move my left leg so cannot do daily activities.

I need someone on a daily basis to help me shower, use the restroom, eat, cook… I have insomnia, flashbacks, and fear. I use a walker to move around slowly. My recovery will take 3-4 months if not more.

My medical bills are $20K, lost wages $20K. I was a very active 26-year-old person with no previous injuries at all. How much is reasonable settlement?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Ivan,

Thank you for your question. Let’s take a look at the factors that impact potential injury compensation.

Liability and Damages

Given the police report list of citations, liability seems clear. The 16-year-old caused your accident. He was intoxicated and ran a stop sign, thereby hitting you and causing your injuries.

You are entitled to pursue compensation for your damages:

Pain and suffering may include:

  • Physical pain and discomfort, whether temporary or permanent
  • Depression, anxiety, memory loss, insomnia, or other emotional disorders
  • Physical limitations, including the inability to play with your children or hug them
  • Loss of consortium (supportive relationship) with your family members
  • Any other emotional or psychological trauma

Here, you should receive compensation for your medical bills (in the amount of $20,000), your lost wages (in the amount of $20,000), and your pain and suffering.

Calculating Pain and Suffering

Colorado law, and most other state laws in the U.S., don’t set forth a precise formula for calculating a pain and suffering award.

However, it’s common to use a “multiple method” to calculate these figures. This calculation is made by totaling the injured person’s economic damages and applying a multiple from one to five.

Your economic damages in this case are worth $40,000 (the total of your medical expenses and lost wages).

The tricky part of using the multiple method is figuring out which number to use as a multiple.

Unless an accident left you critically or permanently injured, your demand for pain and suffering would probably be between one and three times the amount of your economic damages.

Here, considering your injuries and recovery demands, we believe it’s reasonable for you to go with a multiplier of three. Doing this, your pain and suffering award is $120,000, and your total settlement amount would be $160,000.

Caps on Pain and Suffering

While this probably doesn’t apply to your case, keep in mind that Colorado law places a cap on the amount of money a claimant can ask for pain and suffering. The cap is between $250,000 and $500,000.

Colorado law specifies:

“In any civil action other than medical malpractice actions in which damages for noneconomic loss or injury may be awarded, the total of such damages shall not exceed the sum of two hundred fifty thousand dollars, unless the court finds justification by clear and convincing evidence therefor. In no case shall the amount of noneconomic loss or injury damages exceed five hundred thousand dollars.”

Sources of Compensation

A negligent teenager is unlikely to have personal assets. Because the at-fault teen was driving his father’s car, your primary source of compensation will be from the father’s auto insurance policy.

The minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage mandated by Colorado law is $25,000. Your attorney can find out the actual policy limits of the father’s policy. You can ask, but the insurance company will not usually disclose policy details without permission from their insured.

Your personal injury attorney can discover other sources of insurance. For example, if the father also carries an umbrella liability policy. Also, if the teenager’s parents are divorced and share custody of their son, he may also be covered under his mother’s car insurance policy.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance isn’t enough to cover your damages, you may be able to make an underinsured motorist claim with your own auto insurance company.

Finally, you may have legal recourse against the business or social host who provided the alcohol to the drunk teen who ran you over.

Learn more here: Pedestrians Hit by Cars

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

Published:

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