What money can we expect regaring an auto accident?

We were involved in a auto accident that the other party was found at fault and have eye witness to testify that it was her fault. We have over $ 10K in out of pocket medical and other expenses and indurer is only offering us $ 500 for pain in suffering. We asked for $ 28K which we obviously did not expect to get but was at least hoping to get somewhere around 1.5-2 times the amount of out of pocket. No major injuries but there was an ambulance ride to the hospital and all the other fees that go along with that included. Are we being unreasonable?

Asked on September 11, 2012 under Personal Injury, Texas

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Are all of your injuries completely healed?  Do you have any permanent injuries?  If you have no permanent injuries, how long did it take for everything to heal?

Florida, like many states, has a "no fault" statute for automobile claims.  This means that your own auto insurance pays for up to $10,000 in medical expenses and you cannot sue for pain and suffering unless you have a permanent injury.  Permanent injury is defined rather loosely, so a permanent "soft tissue" injury will suffice.  I don't know your state, so I cannot address whether your state has a statute that limits what you can recover.

If your state does not limit your recovery and you have either a permanent injury or lengthy recovery period, it sounds like the insurance company is being stingy.  That does not surprise me.  The insurance company is making a business decision based on economics, not on what is "fair" for you.  You now have a decision to make.

If you, indeed, have significant injuries, you will have to accept what the insurance company is offering, try to negotiate for more, or hire a lawyer.  When you hire a lawyer, you almost always get a higher settlement.  However, you also pay the lawyer 1/3 to 40% of your settlement.  The only way the lawyer can get you a higher settlement is to litigate your claim.  That takes time and involves at least some litigation costs.  You have to balance the time and cost of hiring a lawyer against the potentially higher settlement to decide if this is the right choice for you.

I must say that the insurance industry has done a good job of influencing the public (that means juries) to believe that people who bring personal injury lawsuits are greedy.  If your injuries were short-lived and now completely healed, you may be seen as one of those people if you litigate.  Litigating may bring you nothing more than the current offer, or less.  There are many Florida cases in which juries awarded nothing even though there was fault.

Personal injury lawyers almost always offer free consultations and accept cases on a contingency basis (they get paid only if they recover for you).  It won't cost you anything to get some advice from a local personal injury lawyer, and I suggest that you do that.


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