How do you calculate what your settlement should be?

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How do you calculate what your settlement should be?

Last year, a lady ran a red light and totaled my car. Insurance covered it no problem. I have been going to a chiropractor and the bill has been submitted for payment. I lost $375 in wages for clients I had to cancel appointments for. The total amount of medical bills and loss of wages comes to $1,820. The insurance wants to pay me $375 for loss of wages and $600 for pain and suffering. Shouldn’t I receive $2,400? I thought you took medical bills and loss of wages and multiplied them by 1.5 and that was the total you would get for pain and suffering or loss of quality of live. Is $975 a fair amount for me to go ahead and sign the release of claim papers?

Asked on February 27, 2013 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You should reject the settlement offer of $975 because it doesn't even cover your medical bills.

Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Wage loss is not included in pain and suffering.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.

There isn't any mathematical formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering.  It depends on what is in the medical reports.  The medical reports document the nature and extent of your injury.  If you have fully recovered, you would receive less for pain and suffering than someone who has residual complaints of pain after completing medical treatment and/or needs future medical treatment. 

Your medical bills are $1475.  I would ask for quadruple the medical bills for pain and suffering, but NOT expecting to get that.  That would be a starting point in negotiations.  The insurance company will respond with a lower offer.  Try to get the insurance company to increase its offer.  If you don't have any residual complaints and have fully recovered, a reasonable settlement would be $2500. 

If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.  If the case is settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, you will need to 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.  CA has a two year statute of limitations in personal injury cases which means if the case is NOT settled, you will need to file your lawsuit prior to the second anniversary of the date of the accident or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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