What can I do if a settlement for an injury sustained in a car accident seems low?

I was in a fender bender a few weeks ago. The damage to my car only amounted to $330. I have low back pain as a result of the accident. The x-rays and MRI came back normal. I still wake up to pain in the night and have to take pain meds. I will start seeing a PT next week. I have spent several hours on the phone with the adjusters, doctors and insurance company regarding the accident. Several hours in drive time and time at the doctor appointments, plus gas costs. I am a stay-at-home mom and all of this time was time I away from my children. The insurance company says it wants to settle and only pay me $300. How much is reasonable for me to ask for? I don’t feel this amount makes me whole again. I’m not sure how much PT I will need.

Asked on October 17, 2015 under Personal Injury, Colorado

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The insurance company's settlement offer of $300 is ridiculous and should be rejected.
It is premature at this point to try to settle the case because you haven't completed your medical treatment.  When you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, which means having reached a point in your medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your medical bills and medical reports.  Those items should be included in your personal injury claim filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  You won't be able to receive compensation for time away from your kids, but may be able to receive compensation for transportation rate per mile to the doctor multiplied by the number of doctor appointments.
If you have residual complaints pain, etc. after completing your medical treatment, that would mean additional compensation compared to someone who fully recovered and has no residual complaints.
As for a settlement, I would ask for quadruple the medical bills to compensate for pain and suffering, but NOT EXPECTING TO GET THAT.  That amount would be for negotiating purposes.  The insurance company will respond with a much lower offer, and you can continue trying to negotiate a larger amount.  If the case is settled with the at-fault party's insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.
If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the at-fault party's insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at -fault party.  Your lawsuit should name the registered owner  and the driver as defendants if the driver is someone other than the registered owner.
If the case is NOT settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, your lawsuit for negligence must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter. 


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