I was in a car accident in Oct 09. I had head trauma and soft tissue injuries to my neck and back. I was out of work for two weeks. My bills totaled 11,500. The insurance co. stated my bills totaled 9,500 and offered me 11,500, now they are offering me 11,700. I still don't think this is fair. What should I do? Is the next step to file a lawsuit?
The short answer is you get a good lawyer. There's no magic formula for getting a good settlement on your own. The best way to maximize your recovery is to work with someone who knows how to deal with the insurance companies. Many personal injury lawyers, such as those with my firm, will give a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. That way you don't have to pay anything up front. Presuming the other driver was at fault for the accident you should be able to recover for your medical bills, lost wages, and for pain and suffering. Remember that your injuries may persist over a long period of time, and this is your chance to be sure you receive compensation for those injuries. You've already seen that insurance companies will try to pay as little as possible, it is always a good idea to have someone with experience working on your side. Talking to multiple attorneys is not a bad idea, just be sure you get help somewhere.
This answer is provided for informational purposes only. The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create, an attorney-client relationship. Each case is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal question without a review of all the facts at issue. If you are looking for legal advice regarding a problem in the State of Georgia you may contact my office so that we can set up an office or phone consultation to fully address your question. http://www.kimmeylaw.com
A lot depends on what insurance company with which you are dealing. Many have taken the approach of 'so sue us' and won't offer a reasonable settlement; so you sue them.
You need to focus on building your case and if they want to settle, great. If not, file the suit. There is no point messing around with an adjuster that has no authority or interest in resolving the matter.
Also important will be the amount of coverage available from the defendant and any under insurance available.
John G. Breakfield
Breakfield & Dean, LLC
Breakfield & Dean, LLC
539 Green Street
Gainesville, Georgia 30501
This article should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.
Yes, your next step is to file suit. Given the facts as you have outlined them the insurance company has not offered a reasonable amount to settle your case. Filing suit will force the insurance company to hire a lawyer for the defendant and usually to have the claim file reviewed by another person or committee which can often result in a more appropriate settlement amount.
My law firm specializes in helping people who have been injured -- we have been in business since 1992 -- and I will be glad to speak with you in person. My telephone number is 770-414-5394.
It's hard to blame you for feeling like this settlement offer isn't fair! Having said that, however, each claim/case is different. A number of different factors should be taken into account before deciding whether to settle a claim on your own or whether to meet with a lawyer to help you decide what you should do. Just because you hire a lawyer does not necessarily mean a lawsuit will ultimately be necessary, and filing a lawsuit does not automatically mean that a case will proceed to trial. Frequently, matters can be resolved after suit is filed and before trial. It's impossible to know what can and will happen based on a minimum of information, though.
Please speak with an attorney with experience in this area of the law, and keep in mind that very strict time limits can affect your claim, beginning at 6 months depending on what type of possible defendant you have in your matter. Time limits for reporting claims to insurance carriers can be as short as 60 days, and failure to act quickly can have serious consequences for one's claim. Best of luck.
You may want to do research to determine the average settlement for cases like yours. If you have time, you can go to the law library (Fulton County, Cobb County). Both are located in the respective State Court Buildings. If you have these published verdicts and settlements, you may increase the insurance company's offer.
If this fails, and you don't want to hire an attorney, you may have to file suit.
If a case cannot be settled through negotiation with the insurance company, then the only other option to pursue the matter is to file suit.
You should consult with a personal injury attorney (many of whom will meet with you to discuss your case for free) to evaluate what the value of your case may be and what your best course of action is.
You need to specify whether your bills relate to your car or to your medical treatment. Also, the specific nature of your physical injuries is critical. Most insurance companies use software that has specific data points which relate to specific injury types or categories. The offer seems very low. It may be that a well written demand letter hitting the key points and documenting wage loss will help. Chances of continuing/long term injury based upon documented physical changes can help. As the other attorney indicated, this probably requires a very experienced PI attorney. There should be some excellent ones in the Snellville area. Make sure you get a real attorney not a mill that hires paralegals who do ALL the work.
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