lost wages. What should i be expecting in a settlement claim because i have no idea how much my pain and suffering is worth.
The calculation of pain and suffering is not based on any formula, and would require review of your medical records. However, it generally is based on the nature and extent of your injuries, the length and type of medical treatment, and whether or not you have any permanency. Be advised that the adjuster for USAA is working for their company, not you, and is trying to save money. They ar enot on your side. You should retain a personal injury attorney in your part of South Carolina in order to be fully advised of your rights and to maximize your settlement. Many personal injury attorneys are listed on this web site and most initial consultations are free.
Although there is not a hard and fast rule on what you can expect, some lawyers may evaluate settlement potential by multiplying your medical expenses by a factor of 3 plus your lost wages and property damage, if any. This is a very rough and non-scientific method, and may not be appropriate in your particular circumstances. A lot depends upon the facts of the accident, the nature of your injuries, whether or not you have any residual disability, if your injuries might result in some degenerative condition such as the onset of arthritis resulting from trauma, if future medical care will be required, and the nature of the treatment you received. Also, the amount and the willingness of the carrier to settle may depend upon the degree of negligence of their insured compared to that of other drivers involved in the accident. You may have claims against not only the driver of the car in which you were a passenger, but also against other drivers if they were at fault in or contributed to the accident.
It is important that you reach full recovery (called Maximum Medical Improvement or "MMI") before you attempt a settlement of your claim. Once a settlement is made, you will be required to release all claims resulting from the accident, so it is important that your doctors carefully evaluate your condition to insure you have fully healed, and that either no future care is necessary or that the nature and cost of such future treatment or residual disability can be considered in any potential settlement. You should not attempt a settlement unless your physician certifies that you have reached MMI, or if you are still treating or receiving physical therapy.
It is also important that you not settle your claim with only one driver if there are others at fault in the accident as you may be barred from asserting your claims against the others if you do. A lawyer's advice is really necessary to structure a settlement with one of the at fault motorists such that you may still continue claims against others.
I agree with those lawyers who recommend that you hire your own lawyer to assist you if you want to maximize your settlement or recovery. Most lawyers who handle these sorts of cases will do so on a contingency fee basis, and a good personal injury lawyer will certainly earn their fee. You should take care that you engage an experienced personal injury lawyer or firm with a good reputation to represent you. Also, you should not delay in getting a lawyer involved on your behalf. USAA is a good company, but their interests and yours are not the same.
Expect a lot less than you would probably receive if you retain competent personal injury counsel. Your claim has a lot of components in addition to merely pain and suffering.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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