Is a pain and suffering settlement worth the time if no major injuries were reported?

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Is a pain and suffering settlement worth the time if no major injuries were reported?

My mother was walking in a parking lot and was struck by a car. She suffered no major injuries, just bruising/soreness for several days after. What could she expect from something like this? What are the next steps she needs to take?

Asked on January 8, 2016 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Your mother will need to get medical treatment to document her injury; otherwise, she won't have a case.  She should notify the insurance carriers for the at-fault driver and parking lot in writing that she will be filing a personal injury claim.
After completing her medical treatment and being released by the doctor, she should obtain her medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.
Her personal injury claim should include those items and be filed with the insurance company for the at-fault driver and the insurance carrier for the owner of the parking lot.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills based on the medical report which documents the nature and extent of the injury.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
It is not possible to determine how much your mother can expect to receive without knowing the amount of the medical bills.  There isn't any mathematical formula for determining pain and suffering.  It just depends on the extent of the injury.
I would ask for quadruple the medical bills to compensate for pain and suffering, but NOT expecting to get that.  The insurance carrier(s) will respond with much lower figures, and your mother can negotiate to try to increase the amount from the insurance companies.  If the case is settled with the insurance companies for both the registered owner of the vehicle and parking lot, NO lawsuit is filed.
If your mother is dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carriers, she can reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver (registered owner of the vehicle) for negligence.  The lawsuit would have a separate cause of action (claim) based on premises liability against the parking lot.
If the case is settled with one, but not both parties, only name the party with whom the case has not settled as a defendant in the lawsuit.
If the case is NOT settled, your mother's lawsuit must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your mother will lose her rights forever in the matter.  CA has a two year statute of limitations in personal injury cases which means the lawsuit must be filed before the two year anniversary of the date of the accident.
 


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