Q: I need advice on starting negotiations for my pain and suffering settlement because of a car accident.
Arbitration determined the other party was 100% at fault. dash cam footage shows the driver turned sideways on the freeway right in front of us. My husband was driving, I was in the front passenger seat and our 13 month old daughter was in the back in her carseat. We all went to the ER, but not via ambulance. I had a burn and soft tissue damage to my chest. My husband hurt his back, also soft tissue and he has been in physical therapy for 5 months. He still has daily pain. Our daughter appears to be fine but she now hates to be in the car. She used to love it and would always sleep but since the accident she rarely sleeps and always cries when we put her in the car. I have experienced extreme anxiety every time i pass the portion of freeway we crashed on which is 2 or 3 times a week. The accident was in march and its been nothing but a nightmare ever since. We dont even have our car back. Im crafting a demand letter, is 3x our medical bills a fair request for pain and suffering?
A: I think it is impossible to give good specific advice on a specific question contained in 1 paragraph---after all, what if all of the relevant information is not contained in the paragraph, or after reading the post, I have a question which needs answering. All we can do as lawyers is give general advice. That said, it sounds like you are trying to handle this by yourself and without a lawyer-----that's your choice as I would recommend that you hire a lawyer----the other side has a lawyer accessible to it and you should as well. But you may not want to pay what you consider high lawyer fees for something you think you can do just as well as a lawyer---I disagree but that's okay, however, if you go that route, here is what I suggest that you do----contact a personal injury/accident lawyer in your area--or a few of them---most will provide you a free consultation----meet with them, discuss your matter and hire one if you decide you want to do so. If you decide that you do not want to hire one to represent you, then ask them how much would they charge you to do a case review and quantum study of your matter, and perhaps pay them to do that.
A: Good morning. My answer will be general in nature. The demand amount would typically depend on the specific facts surrounding your case. It appears you , your husband and your child may all have claims. Since the child is a minor, there may be additional consideration in making the demand. Since injuries may still be assessed, it may not be the best time to prepare a demand for settlement. I would recommend that you communicate with a personal injury attorney so they can assist you in maximizing your claim and ensuring the your current and future medicals may be paid, hence, possibly waiting for settlement and demands.
There are a lot of layers to what you just described. You're basically asking us to help you screw up your case. Unfortunately, you have already put a dent in your case's value. If you have an attorney take over, they could probably smooth that out. But, what you're proposing would lower you case's value to pennies on the dollar. You're basically setting yourself up to pay *thousands or tens of thousands of dollars out of your pocket* for the privilege of having been hurt by someone else. That's a bad deal.
Generally speaking: if you are hurt, you don't stop treating until you're better. If you never get better, or if there is no hope of getting better, then you work up the permanency aspect of the case so you can get compensation for a lifelong injury.
You and your daughter have PTSD and anxiety? You both need to treat for that. At the very least, you owe it to your daughter to look into trauma therapy for young children. There are therapists and counselors out there who can help you - for those that don't have any health insurance or PIP - options may very well still exist. You will *NOT* get fair compensation for anxiety or PTSD stemming from a car collision if you do not document and attempt to remedy this condition.
You don't have your car back after FOUR MONTHS? That's a huge problem. It's crazy you haven't called an attorney for that reason alone.
Your husband is still treating, though the collision was in March? That's perfectly normal. If you send a demand letter, no money for future treatment will be offered. Zero. You shouldn't send a demand before treatment ends unless the injuries are life-altering.
Most people who don't hire attorneys are fee sensitive, or wary of racking up medical bills. While sometimes medical bill balances can come into the cost/benefit of a case's value, it's rare usually at least somewhat solvable when it does come up. And yes, attorneys charge a fee. But on average, you *NET* several times what you would by going it alone. And, you are almost always in better physical and mental condition than if you were to go it alone.
The bottom line is no matter how this goes, you are going to get hosed unless you hire an attorney. You've got to let go of whatever is holding you back from calling one. Your family has suffered too much already. Call an attorney and at least see if they can help you.
I hate to say this, but my experience is that you will never get a fair settlement without an attorney. Unless the insurance company legitimately believes that you are prepared and able to put your case in front of a jury, they will never feel the need to pay what your claim is worth. They will lowball you until you accept something.
It is my experience that even though a personal injury lawyer will be paid a portion of your final settlement, the amount that you end up with will be more if you are well represented. It's unfortunate but true. We'd be happy to talk to you about your case, and there are plenty of other highly qualified lawyers out there as well.
Your "3X meds" is not a bad ballpark in many cases - but that's very general and not always realistic, and very rarely something the insurance company is going to offer without substantial pressure being put on them.
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