What to do if my wife and minor son were in a car accident 2 years ago but he is still suffering from the effects of the accident?

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What to do if my wife and minor son were in a car accident 2 years ago but he is still suffering from the effects of the accident?

My son was 11 years old at the time of the accident. They were rear-ended by another driver on the highway. My son obtained a burn on his neck from the seatbelt. my son has since been having headaches and has been to the doctor and neurologist. The neurologist could not find any problems that can be associated with the accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is trying to settle the case. I understand that we have until my son reaches age 18 before the claim expires. The other party’s insurer wants to settle the claim for $8,000 and possible minors compromise. I rejected their offer and they offered $9,000. Should I counter their offer? I am not sure as to what to do.

Asked on January 4, 2014 under Personal Injury, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Your wife's personal injury case is separate from your son's.  If your wife's case has not settled, she should immediately file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party because your wife is subject to a two year statute of limitations in AZ.  This means that if her case has not settled and she does not file her lawsuit for negligence prior to the expiration of the two year statute of limitations, she will lose her rights forever in the matter.

As for your son's case, the amount of compensation on his personal injury claim would include the medical bills and pain and suffering.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills and is based on the medical reports.   There should be additional compensation for his residual complaints and the estimated cost of future treatment discounted to present value which should all be documented in the medical reports.  Since the neurologist did not find any problems associated with the accident, it may be difficult to prove your son's residual complaints and estimated cost of future treatment if those items are not included in the neurologist's medical report.

You can either continue negotiating with the insurance carrier by making a counteroffer or if the insurance company's settlement offer is not near your counteroffer, you can reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party on behalf of your son.  Since your son is a minor, you will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on his behalf because a minor cannot file a lawsuit.


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