How do I know if a settlement offer is fair?

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How do I know if a settlement offer is fair?

I was in a rear-end accident nearly 3 years ago. When the accident occurred, I was reaching over for my backpack. The car behind the gentleman behind me rear-ended him, then he was pushed into me. I went to a chiropractor for several months after the accident, we thought I was better then my shoulders, neck and back started going out again. The doctor then sent me to physical therapy which I went to for a few months. I was then told that my range of motion has improved, but is not normal. I was satisfied with “improved” because I’m in college and I can’t spare 2 hours every day when I’m a 16 to 18 hour engineering student. Long story short, they want to settle pain and suffering at $1300 with medical bills paid at $6000. Is that fair?

Asked on February 22, 2013 under Personal Injury, New Mexico

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I don't mean to be insensitive or flippant, but you never know if a settlement is fair.  It is fair if you believe it is fair.  There are no objective standards or data from which to determine what is fair.

Having said that, I have some general comments about your circumstances.  Do you know what is causing your symptoms?  Is this cause a temporary thing or a permanent thing (e.g., is it a bulging or herniated disk or "soft tissue" injury?)?  Do you believe you will get 100% better? If the cause of your symptoms is a temporary thing, you believe you will get 100% better, your current symptoms do not prevent you from pursuing your studies, and the offer will pay all of your medical bills, then my opinion is that the settlement offer is reasonable.  In fact, it's pretty generous in my experience.

You want to make sure you have reached "maximum medical improvement."  After 3 years, you should be at that point.  Your doctors should have done all the tests necessary to find out what is wrong.  You should have received as much treatment as possible.  It sounds like you have stopped treatment because you are not getting enough benefit to justify taking time from your studies.  This would imply you have reached MMI (maximum medical improvement).  As a practical matter, stopping treatment will be used as evidence that you are no longer injured, or at least seriously injured.

Do you have a lawyer?  If so, your lawyer will advise you about these matters.

Remember that the amount of medical bills can be negotiated.  If insurance paid for them, you will have to repay your insurance company for what they paid.  If not, you can call the medical providers, tell them that you recovered or will recover only a small sum, and ask them to reduce their bills.  Billed amounts are often twice as high (or more) than insurance or the government would have paid so there is some room to negotiate.

I hope this helps.  Good luck.


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