Help on What to Settle for on Settlement.

Updated on January 07, 2009
S.D. asks from Peoria, AZ
20 answers

I am looking for a guide from the heart as to what is a "fair"
settlement price from an ins company. I was in a big accident, head
on. Police report and all indicates not at fault and the other
party has taken responsibility. Without too much detail, I have been
in care for 4 months and will now be released and the ins will want
to settle. I don't want to ask too much or get too little. My med
bills are not any higher then $1000, but my suffering has been
harder then 3X's the amount of that as some say is a "fair" .
I don't want to get a lawyer involved if I don't have too. I think
this company will be reasonable with me as it is a company car
and driving on the wrong side of the road ect.... Any advice???
Any stories as to what you got or was not fair to be aware of ?
I am trying to take everything in cosideration... car seats replaced,
inconvience of no car, having to finance another car, ect....
Thanks.

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D.H.

answers from Phoenix on

My in-law had a similar experience and got $50,000 - if you consider car prices and loss of possible wages - also, she had to use a cane after that. But I would ask for $10,000 to $30,000, if you didn't have a permanent disability, anyway. It sounds like you are an honest person - Thank you!

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M.M.

answers from Flagstaff on

Get the book: "How to Settle an Auto Accident with out a Lawyer" this book walks you through it step by step through the whole thing! No guessing! I found it at my library, if you don't find it there, I also bought it from Amazon.com if you can't find one, let me know, I'll send you mine.

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D.S.

answers from Albuquerque on

Since your med bills are no higher than $1000, I wouldn't expect much in regard to the injury settlement. You should probably expect anywhere around 3 times your med bills. In regard to a car, why didn't you have a rental car? The other insurance should have provided that for you. Also, if your car was totaled, they will settle the property damage based on the value of the car at the time of the accident and will probably give you money to replace the car seat. They're not going to care about your having to finance another car. That's not something that is usually considered since they'll be paying you what your car is worth, like if you sold it. Whether the car was on the wrong side of the road or ran a stop light, that isn't taken into consideration when settling. It's the injury...not the circumstances of the accident. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.S.

answers from Albuquerque on

Getting a lawyer might be something to consider. I worked as a paralegal for years and can tell you, you will get a bigger settlement when a lawyer is involved. They will not charge you if you lose. They will front the costs and subtract that from the settlement if it is not included as a separate item by the insurance company. Finally, they charge one third of the net settlement but again, there is no charge if they lose. From what you said, you will be better off with an attorney. Good luck.

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L.V.

answers from Phoenix on

I was in a accident and found the insurance company was totally trying to hose me. It was a constant fight until I finally contacted a attorney.
I didn't have to pay anything out of pocket and I got a settlement that I felt was totally fair without being excessive. It was a relief to not have to haggle with the inurance company.
Get a attorney. It won't cost you a dime and will save you the stress and headaches.

F.H.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi S., I agree with Jill B. I'm an insurance agent and I can tell you one of the reasons why auto insurance is so high is that people get a little bump and sue for millions, it's ridiculous. However, on the other hand, that is what insurance it there for if you need it! Just be fair and honest in what you request. Good luck and let me know if I can help! F.

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A.D.

answers from Tucson on

I would check with your medical insurance company. Even if your portion of the medical bills wasn't that much, there is a clause in most health insurance that says you will work with them to recoup their costs if the cause was someone else's fault. You don't want to end up in legal trouble with them because you settled without their help.

Attorney's fees are usually pretty high but I'm sure you could get their insurance company to pay the fees if you hire an attorney to represent you. A lot of the accident attorneys advertise if there is no recovery (meaning you don't get any money from the lawsuit), there is no fee.

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J.L.

answers from Tucson on

Please check with a GOOD doctor as to what the LONG TERM affects will be with your injury. I was in an accident when I was 19...30 years ago, and settled for $2400.00. Nobody ever told me that 30 years down the road that I'd have problems associated with the accident so long ago! I could use hand therapy now.I still have and had many aches and pains since. But, I never thought about the years down the road in regards to my injury. Be fair, but, make sure you get enough in case you need to have something done years later as a result of the injury.

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T.A.

answers from Phoenix on

You should really call an attorney.

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B.M.

answers from Phoenix on

Hi S.. I am going through the same thing personally right now, and I also worked as a plaintiff's personal injury paralegal for 5.5 years. Unfortunately, there is no "formula" as to what is fair. With your minimal medical bills, I think you're going to be hard pressed to come out with a big chunk of money on this thing. The ins co will take the position of "how much could she have suffered if she only incurred $1,000 in bills?" 3x is a very general rule, but it always depends upon the circumstances. But there is a method to deal with the insurance company that most people don't know. First of all, stay in the driver's seat. Don't sign any medical release forms. You should track down your own medical records and bills from your providers and submit them to the ins once you are all done treating, with a detailed "demand" including what happened during the accident, a description of your treatment, as detailed as you can get, visit by visit if you can, and an itemization of your medical bills. Then tell them that you will settle for X amount, which should be a number that is highballing where your case actually might settle. For instance, my medical bills and wage loss were just over $4,000. I demanded $16K. They came back with a low offer, which I countered, and they have now brought their offer up again, which I plan to counter again. This is all a game. Don't give the insurance company any more power than they need to have. if you have any questions, let me know! I hope this was at least a little help for you!

After reading the other responses, I would like to add this: I wouldn't recommend getting a lawyer for your accident, unless the insurance company is really screwing you around. If you do decide to get a lawyer, please, please, please do not call ANY of the law firms that advertise on TV. They are ALL awful (I used to work for one of those back in the day and nothing has changed). The firm I worked for for the last 5.5 years was really good. They are good lawyers who don't need to sink to TV ads. They are Bohm & Jones. I worked for Robert Bohm. Their number is ###-###-####. Let them know that you were referred by B. Maple (I left there on great terms). They won't charge you anything up front. I saw a couple responses saying that lawyers won't cost you anything, which is not entirely true. Personal injury lawyers do not charge you anything up front, but they do take a percentage of your settlement, as well as pay themselves back for any costs they incurred in representing you. So again, I would try to handle it on your own before you give up 1/3 of your settlement to pay a lawyer. Good luck!

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J.B.

answers from Phoenix on

Hey S.,

This is a tricky one. A lot of people now days see any type of accident as their "golden ticket", which is very unfortunate. Also, insurance companies want to settle FAST so they don't have any responsibility for any future problems that may arise. That being said, I would consult with an accident attorney who should take your case on a contingency basis, just to be able to fight fair with the insurance company. But PLEASE KEEP YOUR HONESTY AND DON'T SUCCOMB TO THE GREED!!!! That is my main advice to you. What goes around, comes around... so make sure you're always on the up and up. : ) Good luck!

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D.S.

answers from Phoenix on

Sorry to hear about your accident. Unless you experience an accident most don't realize how it changes your life. The realization that someone can change/destroy your life with their actions changes how you look at so much and become so much more cautious.

10 years ago I had a "minor" accident when a rental truck ran a stop sign and hit me. Really totaled my car (rebuilt it for $6,000+) so I had a rental for 3+ months. My medical also wasn't significant few thousand. After a lawyer and a year battle, they gave me $10,000 which was my original request, but then the attorney got a % (he earned it).

Make a list and try to price it for yourself...inconveniences, the pain (at it's worst), number of doctors appointments, time lost (from work/family). Then you decide if you need to double to have room to negotiate or just be truthful and stick to it.

Good luck

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D.E.

answers from Phoenix on

My advise is to get a lawyer or someone that can help you out with this situation. I have dealt with Insurance companies before for miner accidents and THEY DON"T WANT TO PAY YOU ANYTHING!!
Get someone to help you. You lost a car that needs to be replaced along with a car seat and if you are taking medicine every month you need money for that too plus pain and suffering. Get help so you won't be on the losing end of the stick.
I have a friend who was in a head on and got a lawyer to help her with all of her bills and get her a good settlement.

Good Luck.

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S.L.

answers from Tucson on

Get a lawyer. The other insurance company? They are the enemy. You have just been released from care? they owe you your monthly wages plus pain and suffering. You need to think very carefully about long-term effects. I am very serious here. Your neck and back may never be right again- and the rest of your life is a big price to pay for being nice.

I was in a wreck with a company car- she drove right up my rear end on the freeway- they talked about previous health concerns, put me down, implied that I made things up, sicced an investigator on me- in general, made my life miserable. The law firm who quotes millions in settlements, and will work for a percentage of the final settlement is what you want. (The only thing they will want up front is the filing fee)The researcher from the law firm, who came to my house because I wasn't functional, said something like, "We are the great white shark!" That's the attitude you want. Go for it- S.

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M.V.

answers from Las Cruces on

If you do decide to get an attorney involved you need to remember you still need to fight for yourself. I know several people who hired attorneys and then later realized they settled for way too little. When you decide how much you will accept don't assume your attorney knows more than you, or that they will make the best decisions. They are human so don't know it all, and they weren't there when you were experiencing the pain and suffering, or when you were inconvenienced for 4 months. Good luck.

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S.R.

answers from Phoenix on

You have got to get a lawyer. The other persons insurance company is going to try to settle on the lowest amount possible. You are not their priority. You need someone that will be looking out for you. I had a friend who recently went through the same thing and he has been "fighting" with the other persons insurance company to try to get everything taken care of. He also did it alone and wishes that he had used a lawyer just to take the burden off of him. If you don't want to hire a lawyer, then maybe you could have some sort of legal counseling in order to get everything figured out. I would not go it alone.

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K.L.

answers from Tucson on

Hi S.! I read your post and would like to help you determine what you should settle for. To let you know I was the personal assistant to a accident and injury lawyer for 6 years (before becoming a stay at home mom) and delt with this kind of thing all the time! It is good that you are taking any and all property damage into account! Im assuming your vehicle was a total loss if you are now needing to finance a new one! Did they settle the vehicle loss portion of your claim and was the vehicle paid for? If the vehicle was paid for you should have gotten high kelly blue book value for the vehicle. if it was not paid off you should get/have gotten the high kelly value anyway with the lien being paid to the lien holder and the remainder going to you. if you had time without a vehicle and you did not get a rental paid for during that time, you should investigate what a rental would go for for a comparable model vehicle as the one that was wrecked for the amount of time you were without and ask for that as well as any cab or bus fare that you may have spent to get to appointments, work where ever. of course car seat replacement and anything else in the vehicle that may have been damaged. Also, if you are financing a new vehicle you should figure out what finance charges will be for the duration of the loan and add that in to your figure. That is on top of what ever they have or will pay off for the actual damaged vehicle because it is not your fault you have to finance a new vehicle! Also be sure to include any further treatment you may need in the future, you may want to check with whatever doctor or treatment facility you were seen with to see if any residual treatment may be needed, even minimally for the next 2 years and factor that into your equasion. After all that you will want to ask for 3x any medical expenses (past and future) along with the other items. Most insurance companies will pay this to avoid dealing with attornies! An attorney is always an option but most will nickle dime down any settlement amount with their "costs" and of course they will take a third of anything the insurance companies settle for. if the other company has already admitted liability in the accident it shouldnt be too hard to get what you're asking. if you do end up going to an attorney I would recomment that you get copies of all your medical records and bills as well as copies of police reports etc before going to the attorney. Your doctors have to provide you with these free of charge but they will charge your attorney who will then go to you for reimbursement of those "costs" whether or not they win your case!

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D.W.

answers from Phoenix on

Hello!
Could your own insurance agent advise you on what is considered a reasonable amount to settle for in your situation? They are not lawyers, but should obviously know all about settling.

Good luck!
D.

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F.M.

answers from Tucson on

S., I'm a paralegal since 1998. I can tell you times have changed & since the economy is different settlements are harder without an attorney. I would recommend you call me or email [email protected]____.com (Gabriel) with your questions. Even though your pain and suffering is more than your medical bills the insurance company is not going to offer much with only $1k in meds. If you were without a vehicle, did you get compensated for loss of use?
There is so much information. Please email or call us.

Law Offices of Gabriel D. Fernandez, P.C.
437 W. Thurber St., Ste. 17
Tucson, AZ 85705
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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D.L.

answers from Phoenix on

Dear S.; I don't know what is fair, but if you have any trouble getting what you think you should, be sure to write the AZ Department of Insurance, Consumer Affiars. I had trouble collecting the cost of a rental car for the full time my car was in the shop, and one letter to the Dept of Ins. and bingo - they paid. Insurance companies can be difficult and try to cut costs on a claim, but if the Ins. Corp. gets too many complaints about one company it can loose its license to do business in Arizona. My body shop gave me the form to fill out, and encouraged me to do it, as they see this all the time. Save all your bills because they will want details.

D.

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