How doI know whether or not I should accept a settlement offer or sue?

A driver crossed the center line; hit me head on; totaled my car. She was driving on a suspended license (4th offense) and it was her sister’s car. My injuries were minor; taken by ambulance to ER; released. Had 1 visit to ortho for knee and 3 month chiropractic treatment. My total medical bills are 14k and have gone unpaid, resulting in them being turned over for collection. My credit has taken a beaten. The 1st offer was for 12k and their last was for 16k. That doesn’t seem like much with my medical bills, lawyer fees, and the emotional distress I have gone through (it’s been over 2 years). Court or take offer? Do I need to speak with a personal injury attorney? In Dover, DE.

Asked on December 10, 2010 under Accident Law, Delaware


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You probably should speak with a PI attorney, since deciding what is fair and appropriate is not easy. You should be able to recover for your medical bills; for property damage (e.g. to your car); for lost wages; for other out of pocket; for future medical, if it's fairly certain (e.g. more physical therapy or chiropractic); and possibly for pain and suffering--at least to the extent not paid by either your auto or health insurance (i.e. you can't collect for costs or losses you've already been reimbursed for). Determining pain and suffering and what's potentially recoverable is not simple, though you can get a rough idea by doing a web search for settlements and jury verdicts for  similar injuries. On the other hand, you can only collect what the person can pay--if it's her insurer offering, they could cover up to her policy limits, but if she personally is offering, this may be all she has, which has to be weighed in. And note: you typically cannot recover legal fees.

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