i received $4400.00 in hospital and physical therapy bill not including the bills how much should i get in suffering and pain

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i received $4400.00 in hospital and physical therapy bill not including the bills how much should i get in suffering and pain

Asked on May 6, 2009 under Accident Law, Indiana

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have an attorney, you'd likely get nothing other than perhaps some nuisance value beyond the out of pocket bills from the at fault driver's insurance company.

If you have an attorney, the insurance company knows the attorney will need to be paid to dispose of the case. If you incurred medical bills, and all the attorney does is get them reimbursed, and then take his or her fee out of the money given you to pay those bills, you'd ask yourself "what good did the lawyer do for me - it cost me money to get what was coming to me."

"Pain and suffering" is a category that is often used when a lawyer is involved so the insurance company can buy peace, end the case and move on. In the old days the insurance company might eventually offer 3 times the actual out of pocket bills, expenses and proven losses, knowing that one third (more or less) would go to the lawyer, one third to reimburse the victim and the balance to buy peace.

That was the "old days," and companies now offer much less to settle. They make a low ball offer for the out of pockets (and the victim's regular health carrier which probably paid the bill usually has a lein on all recovery for medical bills) and just a pittance for the lawyer and say "take it or leave it." They say if you leave it, we'll defend far more vigorously. Why? Companies often conclude that if they defend enough cases to the death, spending far more in defense than the case is worth and putting the plaintiff through agony, while the insurance company's legal bills will be much higher, word will get around and the rest of the plaintiff's lawyers will not want to bring cases against someone insured with that company knowing that there will be no quick settlement offers, no quick fees, and any lawyer who does bring a case will be forced to put in countless hours of work and prepare for trial with no assurance of payment. Thus with lower settlements and fewer lawsuits the carriers make more money overall. That's also why the average contingency fee has been increasing nationwide. 

So why wouldn't the insurance company give you the same as they'd have to pay to settle the case if you had a lawyer? Why should they? All they usually have to do is claim you were partly at fault and if you were that diminishes your potential recovery (and eliminates it in some states) or create doubt in your mind -- fault is rarely 100% certain. So even offering to give you the full out of pockets can make you go away. If you are dumb enough to try to handle the case yourself, they know you'll likely screw up, you'd make admissions (or they'd claim you did, taking statements out of context -- such as "fine" in reply to a simple "how are you today" -- that they eventually would use against you, and so if you eventually do get a lawyer that you'd have damaged your own case. 


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