What is a reasonable amount to request for an auto accident claim above and beyond medical bills?

Insurance company representing client who caused auto accident for which other party has taken full responsibility for, completed review of documentation of bodily injury claim and are offering a settlement of $3,313. This amount is a little over $1,000 of what the actual medical bills were for the issues caused by this accident. This is my first accident and I have no previous experience in dealing with auto insurance. Is it common to request s higher amount for this type of settlement and what would be reasonable for “pain and suffering” in an auto accident situation? Should I speak with a personal injury attorney? I’m in Placer, CA.

Asked on October 24, 2011 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There isn't any mathematical formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering.  It depends on the medical report which documents the nature and extent of your injury. If you are still having pain or other problems after completing your medical treatment, you would receive more compensation than someone who had fully recovered from the injury.  Also, if future treatment is anticipated, that should also be a factor in compensation for pain and suffering. I would normally ask for quadruple the medical bills to compensate for pain and suffering, but NOT expecting to get that.  This would be a starting point in negotiations with the insurance company.  The insurance company will respond with a lower offer and you can continue negotiations to try to obtain a larger amount.  What you are presently being offered by the insurance company is a little low to compensate for pain and suffering.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, you can reject the settlement offer and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault driver.  If the case is settled with the insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance company, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault driver/registered ownerof the vehicle prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  IN CA, there is a two year statute of limitations in personal injury cases which means the lawsuit must be filed prior to the two year anniversary of the date of the accident.  It would be advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney.


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