What is a fair settlement if I was rear-ended by insured driver pulling out of a driveway?

The damages to my car was $3,040, the ER visit was $902, the chiropractor visits were $1,830 and additional out of pocket expenses were $20. The insurance company has offered $2,400 as settlement. Is this a good faith/fair settlement?

Asked on October 30, 2014 under Personal Injury, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your total out-of-pocket losses were $5,792. That--plus *possibly* some additional increment for "pain and suffering" IF you suffering weeks or months of significant disability, impairment, etc.--and possibly also some lost wages if lost any income--is what you could get if you were to sue and win. Ignoring any lost wages and pain and suffering, you're looing at just a little less than $6k in damages.

To get it, you'd have to sue and incur legal fees--assume that you might pay around 1/3 of the recovery (at least!) in legal fees. Therefore, if you won at trial, you might get around $4k or less after legal fees.

You're being offered $2,400, or 60% of what you'd actually realize if you sued and won, which is also around 40% of your gross damages. You always accept less in a settlement than you could get--if you didn't let the other side save money, they'd have no incentive to settle. Your advantage is not only do you save legal fees, but the money is guaranteed (you could lose at trial) and you'll get it many months, possibly several years, faster than if you went to trial.

The number you're offered is within the reasonable range for the damages you describe. It's not a generous settlement, but it is reasonable. Unless you are highly confident of your negotiating skills or willing to accept the chance if you reject this settlement and try for more, they may refuse to settle, you may wish to take the offer.

Note that if you did incur signfiicant or long-lasting disability or impairment, or lost significant wages, the calculus would be different; in those cases, you would likely be being offered too little.


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