How much should I settle for in a bodily injury claim?

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How much should I settle for in a bodily injury claim?

I had a bad whiplash and my spine is out of alignment. I will be going to a chiropractor 3 days a week for a month and a half. I don’t know what amount should I settle for.

Asked on February 3, 2013 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It would be premature to settle the case now 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, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Your personal injury claim filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier should include these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss 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.  There isn't any mathematical formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering.  It depends on the facts of the case.  For example, if you are having residual complaints after completing your medical treatment, you should ask for more than if you have no residual complaints of pain or other problems.  If you will need future medical treatment, the estimated cost of that future medical treatment discounted to present value should be factored into the amount of your settlement.  Once you settle the case, you can't go back to the insurance carrier in the future and ask for additional funds.

To compensate for pain and suffering, I would ask for quadruple the medical bills, but NOT expecting to get that.  This would be a starting point in negotiations, and the insurance carrier will respond with a much lower amount.  You can continue negotiating with the insurance carrier.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the at-fault party's insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the defendant (at-fault party).  If the case is settled with the defendant's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with the defendant's insurance carrier, you must file your lawsuit for negligence against the defendant prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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