If I was in an accident and injured, how doI determine what is an appropriate settlement amount to ask for?

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If I was in an accident and injured, how doI determine what is an appropriate settlement amount to ask for?

While sitting at a red light in with cars in front and to either side of me, my husband and I were rear-ended. The driver did not even apply his brakes. He drove off and I took pictures of his license plate. My insurance company did a tag look-up and obtained his information. His insurance company admits complete fault and are offering me a settlement. I have muscle tearing and a pinched nerve in my neck causing extreme pain and medical treatment, past my PIPof $2500. What is an acceptable amount to ask for, as this will most likely be a long-term injury? Should I consult with a personal injury attorney? In Harford County, MD.

Asked on January 15, 2011 under Personal Injury, Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A settlement of your case should include your total medical bills plus compensation for pain and suffering and any wage loss.  Until you have been released by the doctor at the conclusion of your treatment or have been declared permanent and stationary, it would be premature to try to settle the case because you would not have all of the information necessary for a settlement.  Compensation for your total medical bills and wage loss is straight reimbursement. In addition to your total medical bills, you should also include an estimate of the cost of future treatment if future treatment will be necessary due to the nature of your injury which appears to be the case since you mentioned that your injury is long-term.  By future treatment, I am referring to medical treatment after you have been released by the doctor upon completion of your treatment or have reached a point where the doctor has declared that you are permanent and stationary.  Permanent and stationary means that no further improvement in your condition is anticipated.  It is important to include the estimated cost of future treatment if applicable as stated in your medical report because once the case is settled, you won't be able to ask for more money sometime in the future for that additional treatment.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to your medical bills.  There isn't any mathematical formula, but the medical reports which document the nature and extent of your injuries will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  I would ask for quadruple your total medical bills as compensation for pain and suffering; not expecting to receive that, but as a starting point in negotiations with the insurance carrier.  They will respond with a lesser amount and you can continue negotiating upward if possible from their figure.  If the case is settled with the insurance carrier, no lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, you can reject those offers and file a lawsuit against the other driver for negligence.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  It would be advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney.


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