What amount should I settle my auto injury claim for?

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What amount should I settle my auto injury claim for?

I was in a car accident and was rear-ended and the other driver was determined at fault. My medical bills are about $8000. The accident was 15 months ago, so I am pressed for time because I only have 2 years (I believe).

Asked on March 26, 2012 under Personal Injury, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

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.  If you are having residual complaints such as pain after completing your medical treatment, that would mean additional compensation for pain and suffering over someone who has fully recovered.  If the medical reports indicate that you will need future treatment, an estimate of the future cost discounted to present value should be included in your compensation because once the case is settled you won't be able to go back to the insurance company and ask for more money in the future.  There isn't any mathematical formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering.  It depends on the facts of your particular case such as mentioned above whether or not you have residual complaints, will need future treatment, etc.  I would usually ask for quadruple the medical bills to compensate for pain and suffering, but NOT expecting to get that.  That would be a starting point in negotiations and the insurance company will respond with a significantly lower offer.  You can continue negotiating and try to get the insurance company to increase its offer.  If the case is settled with the insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault driver/registered owner of the vehicle.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance carrier, you will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter. 


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