My attorney wants me to settle my personal injury claim for far less than I think my case is worth, should I follow his advise?

Asked about 4 years ago - Bakersfield, CA

I was hit by a big rig a couple of years ago had an MRI showing two bulging discs had an emg 10 months later showing nerve damage down to my left leg. The truck driver admitted at the scene he was at fault. Here is where it gets interesting a year later I get hit by another driver who was cited for making an unsafe turn. Both accidents caused by other people who admitted or was cited for causing the accidents which caused the permanent injuries that I have now. I have eyewitness testimony for both accidents in my favor along with both police reports and all my medical records with no other accident besides the two caused by other people and I can't understand why my attorney wants me to settle for a net of 80,000 with no pre-existing injuries and a good work record.

Additional information

Maybe there is something that I don't understand but that seems low but on the other hand I am not a lawyer. The discs have herniated now and I have had a disco-gram and my orthopedic doctor wants to do major back surgery. With so many different medical problems that have been caused by these accidents I would figure permanently injuring somebody would be worth more than 80,000 net but I guess that's the going rate these days for permanently injuring people or is it?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Adam David Sorrells

    Contributor Level 13

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . The three providers have given excellent advice. I will try to only amplify on those answers. The first point I will make is that anytime a plaintiff has two separate accidents, it is difficult. My normal procedure is to join both together in the same suit; this is not always possible. You do not say how your lawyer is handling this issue, or if the $80,000 net is for both accidents or just one? The other issue is that normally a lower settlement can have many factors. I will outline some below:

    1: Limited insurance for the at-fault driver (probably not the case here with a trucking defendant)
    2: Some problem with the case;
    3: A lawyer who always wimps out and is afraid to go to trial;
    4: A lawyer who has made an excellent cost benefit analyses, and believes the time, costs, and risks of trial outweigh accepting the offer;
    5: An unrealistic client who does not see reality;
    6: Numerous other possibilities.

    You need to meet with your lawyer and have a heart to heart conversation. Good luck.

    Adam Sorrells
    Truck Accident Lawyer

    Disclaimer: The above was not legal advice and cannot be relied on. For informational purposes only. Time is of the essence, do not delay seeking legal advice and pursuing your legal rights.

  2. Eric Iver Ryanen

    Contributor Level 7

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . At $80,000 "net" to you, it's not possible to give you the clean and clear answer you want: in that it could well be within the same zip code as what is reasonable, I would need to know whether all of your medical expenses (and liens asserted by health care providers or your insurers) are being satisfied; I don't know what litigation costs were expended by, and are being reimbursed to, your attorney; I don't know how good the witnesses for you (or against you) are; I don't know who the experts (yours or the bad guy's) are, and what they're going to say; and so on.

    If you have not already done so, you should make an appointment to meet with your attorney to discuss the matter. Let your attorney show you the medical records, expert reports, deposition transcripts (if any) and otherwise have him/her explain to you why this resolution is in your best interest. If the explanation makes sense and you trust your lawyer, accept the offer. If not, consult with another lawyer...sooner, rather than later.

    Good luck with your case.....

    E. Ryanen

  3. Thomas Gerad Lewellyn

    Contributor Level 13

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . As you will no doubt hear from others, there is no way you will get a reliable opinion of the value of your case by posting a brief description here. These matters are far too complex to give an opinion of value based on a few paragraph description; and you would be doing yourself a disfavor to rely upon such advice. What I have done with my clients when discussing value is to sit down with them and analyze the following: upside and downside of potential general damages; the amount of the special damages; the liability factors and whether there is any comparative; potential costs of going to trial; different potential net to client based on different trial results; reliability of witnesses; and the general make up of the juries in the county it is venued in. You should then have a good understanding of what the value of your case is. If you seriously do not like the information you are receiving and feel the lawyer has improperly valued it, you could seek the opinion of another lawyer in your area with experience in personal injury. Good luck.

  4. Andrew Daniel Myers

    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyer agrees

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    Answered . An exact down to the penny answer can not be given without reviewing all of the facts in an injury case in their entirety, including all of the medical records. There is a general formula that is based on a number of variables. I evaluate personal injury claims every day and have published an article on the topic. Having tried many cases both to juries and to judges in “bench trials” I have learned what generally works and what does not. To summarize, the ultimate settlement range includes evaluation of the following:

    Total dollar amount of all medical bills.
    Itemization of portion of medical bills that are outstanding or must be paid through liens.
    Length and extent of any total disability.
    Length and extent of any partial disability.
    Residual loss of function/disability.
    Age of injured person.
    Activities of daily living of individual, pre and post injury.
    Permanent scarring or disfigurement.
    Potential need for future treatment.
    Diagnosis of all injuries.
    Lost wages/lost earnings capacity. (Documented, not speculative. “Under the table” earnings do not count.)

    Each factor must be clearly documented. There must be medical support for each factor, stating that each was caused by the accident.

    The existence of prior injuries of any type and previous insurance claims adds a wrinkle to any case, but can be dealt with. The personal injury attorney must know about this from the outset and not learn about such factors only after the insurance adjuster slaps us in the face with it. I can deal with almost anything with a forthright client.

    Finally, the insurance industry's own publications acknowledge that once an attorney becomes involved in a bodily injury claim the value at least doubles. Nearly all personal injury attorneys give a free consultation. Therefore, anyone serious about optimizing their own personal injury settlement retains an experienced personal injury attorney in their jurisdiction.

    This answer is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided in an office consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, with experience in the area of law in which your concern lies.

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