How do I know if my settlement offer “enough”?

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How do I know if my settlement offer “enough”?

We were hit by a driver who ran a red light and took responsibility. Our 12 year old vehicle with 153,000 miles was totaled beyond repair. Our insurer paid us a fair Blue Book equivalent. We sustained minor injuries, no cuts or blood, no bruises or breaks, did not call an ambulance, only the police. Chiropractic took care of our injuries.However, we now have a car loan and higher insurance payment (a burden as seniors), whereas prior to the accident, the car was paid off. Within days of the accident because of the stress, I got the worst cold/bronchitis I’ve ever had and was out of commission for 3 weeks. Settlement offer is $2000 and $2000 medical only through the next month or so. Is this enough?

Asked on May 8, 2014 under Personal Injury, California


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your property damage claim is separate from your personal injury claim.  The property damage settlement is inadequate if it doesn't compensate you for the car loan and higher insurance premiums.

The personal injury settlement is inadequate if it is only going to pay your medical bills for a month.  It is premature to settle the personal injury claim until you are released by the doctor and obtain your medical bills and medical reports.  Compensation for the medical bills 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 had a wage loss, that also should be compensated.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.

Since each occupant of your vehicle has a separate personal injury claim, the claims can't just be lumped together with one payment of $2000.  That figure seems low considering the fact that you contracted bronchitis if that is linked to stress or some other accident-related cause in the medical reports.  The $2000 is unacceptable if it does not compensate you for pain and suffering.  It is also unacceptable if it only pays your medical bills for a month.

Once you accept a settlement, you can't go back later and ask for additional compensation.

If the case is settled with the insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.

If the settlement is inadequate as the present offer appears to be, you should reject it.  The insurance company may respond with a better offer.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.

If the case is NOT settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, you must file your lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party 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 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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