What should I be aware of in settling an accident claim regarding injuries?

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What should I be aware of in settling an accident claim regarding injuries?

Trying to settle a claim for auto accident with no serious injuries on my own. Insurance claimed all responsibility for passenger. After 2 years papers are signed and notarized but now I must go 30 minutes prior to the hearing to sign more documents. Feeling very uneasy and wondering if their using hearing as a means to sign documents under threat of some type of court contempt if we refuse. Meaning too late to ask for postponement. I have asked for lien to be paid,reimbursements for myself for medical and remaining for son. Very meager amount. Are there shananigans I must be aware of?

Asked on September 26, 2011 under Personal Injury, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are separate settlements of the personal injury claims for you and your son.  The settlement amounts should include compensation for the medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering and in your settlement, compensation for any wage loss.  The total of the settlement should be sufficient to compensate for these items.  There won't be any breakdown as to each of these items in the settlement. 

Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in additiion to the medical bills.  If future treatment of the injuries from the auto accident is needed, you won't be able to go back and get additional funds.  If the medical reports indicate the need for future treatment, the amount of compensation you receive in a settlement should be sufficient to cover that discounted to present value.

By accepting the settlement, you are signing a release which means you give up your claim in exchange for receiving the settlement.  A release means you cannot sue again on the same claim.

The hearing you mentioned is a minor's compromise which means the documents you will be signing prior to the hearing are a release of your son's claim again in exchange for the settlement.  At the hearing, the judge may order that the funds from your son's settlement be deposited in a financial institution.  Since your son is a minor, you were appointed guardian ad litem to represent his interests in the case.  A minor cannot sue in his own name.  A guardian ad litem can sue on behalf of a minor.  By agreeing to the settlement, you won't be able to sue again on the same claim.  Your son won't be able to sue again on the claim when he is 18.


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