March 01, 2010,
S.H. asks from Portland, OR on October 01, 2008
What $ Amount Is Reasonable to Request for Car Accident Settlement?
Has anyone had experience settling a car accident claim (without a lawyer)? I am 40 years old and was in a car accident a year ago in May. The car ahead of me stopped for a pedestrian, so I stopped, but the guy behind me was looking down and didn't stop. He admitted blame to a police officer who came to the scene and his insurance company has accepted all responsibility.
They paid to fix my car ($8400) and the estimated diminished value is $4500. It took 11 hours of labor on the framework, alone. They also rented a car for me for the 10 days it took to repair it, but I don't know what that bill came to.
I told the paramedics on scene that my neck and back were hurting, but did not accept assistance from them. When we got home (my 18 month old daughter and 84 year old grandmother were in the back seat), I called and got in to see a chiropracter. I had chiropractic, massage and physical therapy every week until my PIP ran out. Those bills equal approx $11,000 (plus $300 in gas to get to the appointments, $100 in "appliances" (a brace, exercise ball, ice packs, etc, $200 for a new car seat for my daughter). The chiropracter says there is some lost mobility in my neck. I am not back to normal and am finding more and more things that still cause me pain in my shoulder/back and cause headaches (Disneyland rides, canning fruit, carrying my daughter, who is now almost 3 (I can lift her, but not hold her for any length of time), having a mammogram).
The insurance agent called and is now ready to settle. He offered $10,000 and I foolishly said I was thinking more like 15k. He said that's still in the ballpark, how about splitting the difference 12.5k. I agreed and hung up. Then I called back about 5 minutes later and left a message saying I thought I had been hasty and needed to check into a couple things (at that time, I didn't even know how much the bills were) and to hold off on the paperwork. As I have thought about it, the $12,500 seems fair, if I had no residual pain, but I am still having problems and still having to go in and see the chiropracter. I was thinking of counter offering $50k in hopes of settling around $25k. If I saw the chiropracter 4 times a year for the next 40 years, it would be $10k, without inflation. I don't want to ask for a crazy amount, but I also want a fair amount and enough to take care of myself in the future (my insurance won't cover chiropractic). Any advice (besides hiring a lawyer, who will take a minimum of a third in settlement)?
K.B. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
The same thing happened to me in 2006. I settled for way less, by mistake. I feel that you should seek a lawyer. They can handle all of this. Alot of them don't get paid until you get paid.. its alot to handle yourself.. and I still have problems with my neck too.
Consult an attorney over the phone, that does free consultations. You can tell them your case and see what they think. Make sure all your insurance bills are paid by the other insurance first, and all the money you get is for pain and suffering. Have you filed claims for your child and grandmother as well?
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C.K. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
If you settle with this insurance man, and something later pops up that was related to the accident you are screwed.
Happened to me, I was like you and didn't want to sue, but with Oregons stupid laws (thank you Koligoski or should I say Cut and gouge me) you have the one year, that is why the insurance is pushing for you to settle. See they were nice, paid for your car, all your medical and now they want to be done with you.
I have to say, your medical from the chiropractor seems really high, were you seeing him everyday at $100 dollars a visit? Just seems really high to me.
You pretty much have them, but you did make the mistake of saying you would split.
I think I would tell the insurance that you are going to speak to a lawyer, and hold them for now. Call someone ( I am sure you have friends who have had to seek one) they do consultations and see what he thinks, it might be worth your time...
Best of luck,
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K.T. answers from Portland on October 01, 2008
Your reasoning for the 50k is the best sounding request. I was in an accident and was treated 2x/week for several months, then 2x/month, then eventually 1x/month for about 1 yr. I also added up all the treatments (which were covered by the other driver's insurance) and talked with my chiropractor about what kind of care I would need to maintain the in near and far future. From my experience (and that of others' who've shared) the insurance company is going to low ball you by at least 1/2 of what they are willing to pay. I estimated $15k and was offered $5k by insurance. I asked for their offer first, then I countered with my 15k. They inched up and I said they needed to come much closer to my number because mine was based on the treatment I had and would need in the future. They called back 2 hours later and were already at 12k. We settled on 14k. It's all a game, especially if you don't have a lawyer. I didn't because I felt I had done my research and could justify. If they refused to meet me, then I could have gotten a lawyer.
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S.B. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
You should get at least 3x your therapy bills. Don't settle if you are still in pain. You have to renegotiate. Call your insurance agent. This is important. Don't let them talk you down!
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M.B. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
I am so glad you asked this question. I am in the dilema...trying to figure out the same thing. I am going to try not to use a lawyer. My dad who listens to way to much talk radio told me that the equation looks like this..Whatever you medical bills amount to your payment should be a third of what you are asking. So say your medical bills were 3grand you should get 9 grand. I also talk to my insurace agent who is a extended friend of the family and since i was hit from behind by a woman texting on the freeway and i had my two dogs and my 9mo son in the car that i should settle for now less than 250,000. He told me that my situation was like hitting the jackpot and that i should get a lawyer. I consulted with a lawyer and he said these insurance companies dont like chiropractic care and since i have had a previous neck injury he didnt like that my medical bills were totally up to 10grand. So i decided not to use him and i am going to go at it on my own but confused should i aim towards 250,000 or 30,000 since thats the advice i have gotten. I dont know if this helps or confuses things...i know its hard to figure out..good luck...My play is to see what their first offer is and if and then consult with another lawyer who is more supportive of chiropractic care....MJ
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B.C. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
I was in an accident when I was 30 weeks along (That was 3 years ago). we were at a dead stop and teh woman hit us going 45+ miles an hour. I had bad pain in my back and neck, I had to have a MRI on my neck, but due to the baby I couldnt do anything else. I had an ultrasound to make sure that th eplecenta didnt rip anywhere, I also had to spend 12 hours in labor and delivery on labor watch to make sure that my baby was ok.(She didnt move at all for around 3 hours afetr the crash.) Due to the baby the only medication I could take were some tylenol once in a while, and I could go and get a massage once a week. I had my daughter 8 weeks after the accident, but since I have a c-section I still couldnt go to Physical therapy for another 6 weeks. So 14 weeks later of living with back, hip and neck pain to were I coulnd get out of bed with out help, I finaly got to go to PT. I have gone to 2 diffrent Pt's and is still in pain to this day.
I an telling you all this so that you can have a basis of what I went though. The insuracne company wanted to give me $5,000 as my settlement. They were going to pay all my medical bills that came up to $40,000 in all. But my pain a suffering was only worth 5k. So I went and got a lawyer. We asked for $50K. After fighting for almost a year, I was offered the TOP amount of 23K for pain a suffering. So after all was said and done I walked out with 9K in my pocket. The problam that I ran into was that there is no proof that I was in pain.
The advice I can give you is do it alone, DO NOT GET A LAWYER, and ask for a high amount, you wont get it but it gives them more room to play. And to them all it is is a game.
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A.B. answers from Portland on October 06, 2008
First, I would say go to a real Dr. and get a diagnosis for your back & neck problems. It may be more serious... you could easily have some disc damage, and going to a chiropractor isn't going to help that or even let you know what the real problem is. You need to know this before you settle. If you settle first, you may really regret it later, but I believe that your car insurance and/or health insurance has to pick up where the other settlement leaves off. It would cover PT, but chiro & massage may not be covered.
As far as the settlement, I would push for a pain & suffering amt, but then separate medical bills out from that, and hold them responsible for future medical as well. Also, unless your son & grandmother were hurt, the fact that they were in the car is irrelevant. You don't get $$ for having to stress about what might have happened to them.
K.L. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
i recently got in an accident as well. I say go for it!
T.O. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
I can give you some advice, I worked for an insurance company in the auto claims for 15 yrs. I have that perspective and I have also been in several accidents and I was injured and had to settle injury claims on my own.
My first advice is to not get an atty, I always tell people that, you can do this on your own and they take 1/3 (at least) of your total settlement including medical bills. So if you have 10k in meds (or special damages) and 10k in pain and suffering (also called general damages) = $20k then the atty will take 1/3 of that, why should they get 1/3 of your incurred medical bills????
You can negotiate with the insurance company! First of all have them explain how they came up with their #. Second make a list of all the things you had to deal with while injured--too sore/hurt to pick up your baby for how many weeks? unable to do what other things in your life etc...This way you can explain everything to the insurance company for them to consider under the general damages.
INsurance companies never use a formula 3x medical, it's actually illegal for them to use a formula. That is not a good gauge to use at all.
I think $12,500 is a really fair offer. You can ask for future medical $ to be paid to you up front as well. Your own medical insurance should start covering any chiro care after you settle.
Just remember this, the more insurance companies pay out on injury claims the more it affects everyone's insurance rates. I know that no one believes it but it is so true. I hve seen it first hand from both sides.
I do truly believe you are entitled to a settlement but not to unreasonable amounts like $250k that was mentioned by someone else that is completely unreasonable.
Remember if you go to trial your jury is your peers also.
T.C. answers from Cincinnati on March 01, 2010
It is exceedingly difficult if not impossible to give a value without reviewing all the facts and evidence. Most personal injury lawyers will give you a free consult. some will take your case if they can get you a higher result. That may tell you something. best of luck. T.
M.P. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
I suggest that you talk with your insurance agent. He's in the business and knows what is usual and reasonable. Is he not mediateing for you already?
I was in a similar accident 40 years ago and my insurance agent deided to sue the at fault insurance. I received $20,000 + all expenses paid. That was 40 years ago.
I still have pain in my neck and shoulders 40 years later. Do not settle for less than what you're asking. I think your asking amount is low. $20,000 certainly has not paid for the ongoing medical expenses as the result of that accident. I used to sew and can only sew occasionally because of the pain. I still frequently have headaches. Before the accident I'd had surgery to set my uterus upright. At my next gynecological exam a couple fo months later my uterus had tipped backwards again.
I think you need to have more than $15000 for a settlement. Mine was $20,000 30 years ago.
If your agent isn't helping you get him involved now.
D.R. answers from Portland on October 02, 2008
I can't help you on your settlement amount but wanted to say contrats on finding your high school sweet heart. :)
I hope you fine the inf you need and feel better soon