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I was involved in a car accident, I was rear-ended and the individual that hit me took full responsibility. I would like to settle the case, how do I determine a fair pain suffering settlement. I have a few upcoming trips book, one of which involves a self-driving tour of the destination country, I know this is going to be painful as it is already difficult sitting for long period of times and driving makes it worse. I also had a road trip planned which I will now have to buy a flight for. They are currently offering me $1000.
Asked on July 11, 2017 under Accident Law, California
S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
It would be premature to settle the case until you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point in your medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated. Settlement would be premature because you wouldn't have your total medical bills and wouldn't have all of your medical reports detailing your injury. Your personal injury claim filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier should include your medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of wage loss. You should also include the impact your injury has on your travel plans; although, it may be difficult to quantify but should include the cost of the flight instead of the road trip.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement. The medical reports document your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills. Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
There isn't any mathematical formula for determining compensation for pain and suffering. It just depends on the injury. For example, after completing your medical treatment and being released from the doctor, if you have fully recovered, you would receive less than if you have residual complaints of pain.
The offer of $1000 to settle your case is ridiculous and should be rejected.
If you fully recover from your injury, I would ask quadruple your medical bills to compensate for pain and suffering, but NOT expecting to get that. That would be a starting point in negotiations and the insurance company will respond with a much lower offer. You can continue negotiating to try to get an increase in their offer. I would ask more than quadruple the medical bills if you have residual complaints after completing your medical treatment. Also, consider if the medical report mentions the need for future treatment and an estimated cost of that treatment.
If the case is settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.
If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers, reject them and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.
If the case is NOT settled, your lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party must be filed 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 for filing a lawsuit in a personal injury case. This means that your lawsuit must be filed prior to the two year anniversary of the date of the accident.
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