If we were in a accident with our little nephew, what should we do if something comes up later on that a doctor agrees was due to the accident?

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If we were in a accident with our little nephew, what should we do if something comes up later on that a doctor agrees was due to the accident?

We were rear-ended by someone from out of state. Our 4 year old nephew was in the back sitting in the proper car seat. Now we both suffered massive whiplash, as well as my girlfriend missed work and had a strained shoulder that effected her at work. She has to do a lot of lifting and she wasn’t able to lift over hips. They of course want to settle for less then a $1,000 but we are worried if we were to say yes what will happen to our nephew if something where to come up. Now we aren’t going to agree to this settlement until we have a good idea of what we should do.

Asked on August 20, 2012 under Personal Injury, Montana

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The settlement offer of less than one thousand should be rejected.

In addition to a property damage claim, there are three separate personal injury claims (you, your girlfriend, and nephew) to be filed with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier.

The property damage claim (cost of repairs to your vehicle) is usually settled early in the case.

It is completely separate from the personal injury claims.  As for the three separate personal injury claims, when each person completes his/her medical treatment and is released by the doctor or is declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, which means having reached a point in medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, obtain the medical bills, medical reports and documentation of any wage loss (wage loss claims for you and your girlfriend).  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of the 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.  The medical reports will document if future treatment is anticipated and the estimated cost of that future treatment.  The estimated cost of the future treatment discounted to present value should be included in the amount of compensation received in the settlement.  If your nephew needs future medical treatment or you or your girlfriend need future treatment, the amount of the settlement should include that.  Once a case is settled, you cannot go back and ask for additional funds.

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 driver/registered owner of the vehicle (if the registered owner is someone other than the driver).  Since there are three separate personal injury claims, it is possible that one or more may be settled with the at-fault party's insurance carrier.  Only proceed with the lawsuit on the claim(s) that haven't been settled.  An adult will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on behalf of your nephew since he is a minor.

If the case(s) is/are settled with the insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case(s) is/are NOT settled with the insurance carrier, the lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or the plaintiff (party filing the lawsuit) will lose his/her rights forever in the matter.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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