I was in a an auto accident caused by a another party. The insurance company has repaired my car and offered to pay my medical expenses. Around $3000 for chiropractic treatment on my neck. I have been released from treatment and given a 100% recovery rating by the Dr. My neck still pops and is painful from time to time. They have offered a settlement which amounts to $2000 after medical and attorneys fees. Am I missing somthing or is this a ridiculous offer? My attorney has advised me to take it. I guess I'm looking for a second opinion. Any input would be appreciated.
There are countless variables that go into valuing case value. First, the level of property damage to your vehicle and the supposed speed of the collision effects the value. If there is just a dent, some adjusters and jurors have problems understanding the mechanism of injury and value the case lower. Second, the medical treatment needs to be evaluated. If there is any gaps in treatment, it can reduce value. If there are any preexisting conditions, it will reduce value. If there were no pain complaints at the scene and/or the accident report. Third, there are multiple other factors such as the referral to or from the chiropractor, the defendant's status, smoking or obesity, failure to follow doctor's orders, etc. In a nutshell, evaluating personal injury cases is more of an art than a science. Two thousand after everyone is paid may be a fair amount, it greatly depends on the circumstances.
The problem with soft tissue injuries is that they are very hard to prove--even if fault can easily be established, the doctor's opinion and treatment is almost entirely based on what you have said to the doctor. Although the doctors based on experience can notice involuntary muscle spasm which cause pain, there is no objective tests or machines that can measure pain independent of what you claim.
So without real objective verification of pain, anything you say can be subject to effective attacks in front of a jury.
Although it is impossible to tell you what your case is worth, without having looked at a whole host of variables, you should have a heart to heart conversation with your attorney and get him to explain to you why he says you should take the offer.
Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.
Only your own attorney who knows all of the facts of your own case can understand the variables that go into the case and what the settlement should be. It is not fair to your attorney to 'second guess' his or her work.
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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