what should I do
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what should I do
1 month ago I was involved in a motor vehicle accident which was the other driver’s fault. My vehicle was T-boned by a lady who according to witnesses was traveling in the wrong lane, too fast and ran the red light with a cell phone to her ear. My car was totaled, and I spent the next 7 or 8 hours in the
trauma center ED. I was badly bruised but X-rays didn’t show any breaks. I am still in lots of pain after 30 days and the doctor told me it could take another couple of months for the pain to go away. My hospital, doctor and ambulance bills so far total $5796.78. The insurance company today offered to pay the bills and only $1500 for all I’ve been through. I don’t feel that’s fair. What is your advice?
Asked on July 20, 2017 under Accident Law, North Carolina
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
You can sue the at-fault driver.
You don't indicate *whose* insurer is lowballing you--yours, or hers. From the tenor and context of your question, we will assume for this answer that it is the other driver's insurer. (If that is not the case, please re-post your question with additional detail.) If that is the case, then they have no obligation to offer you anything *until and unless* you sue their driver and win; prior to you doing that, anything they offer is voluntary on their part, so they can "lowball" you and hope you accept their offer. If you feel you deserve more, you can sue their driver and try to convince the court you should receive from them.
There is no hard-and-fast rule for what you should get for pain and suffering--i.e. what you have been through. Generally, if you suffer through months of pain or life impairment, it might be in an amount equal to 50% - 100% of the medical bills, or based on what you write, $2,850 - $5,700, more or less. But that is only a rough guestimate: pain and suffering awards are very subjective, and you could get less or more in court.
If they are offering you $1,500 for that, they are likely offering you between $1,250 and $4,200 less than you might plausibly get in court, or an average of around $2,700 less. On the other hand, if you were to sue, you'd need to hire a medical expert (e.g. doctor) to testify about your injuries, which could costs $1,000 or more. You'd have to pay the court filing fees. You'd spend days (at least) on this, and it would take many months to get paid. And unless you are comfortable being your own attorney ("pro se"), you'd have to hire a lawyer, costing more money. It is not clear that it is worthwhile suing for the likely extra amount of money you might receive.
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