My minor teen was hit as a pedestrian by a speeding driver in a crosswalk where 5 independent & credible witnesses (one a physician) say my son had the right of way. Driver admitted to speeding but said light was yellow. He was critically injured w multiple broken bones, collapsed lung & moderate TBI. 10 days in hospital. More than a yr & a half later he has peripheral vision loss - probably permanent (can't drive), migraines, double vision, bulging discs and major short term memory loss plus scarring from injuries. Driver had minimum ins ($10,000) and no assets. Bills are about $160k. I am suing my own UIM policy and they have offered first $300k in settlement hearing now $500K verbally. My policy limits are 2 million. My teen is an elite athlete that was projected to begin working professionally by now. He has not been able to function to the level he was before the accident though still training best he can. (works through the pain and obstacles, really driven). Lawyer believes I should take settlement. After bills are paid and lawyer is paid there will be very little left for his future care which I believe will be great, especially if he will not be able to drive.
With the TBI and the other medical injuries, you may be right to hold out for more money and speak to your attorney to demand an arbitration proceeding to determine your son's recovery.
I am sorry to hear about all of this. I work with Florida lawyers all the time and it does seem low, but I would need more information before being able to fully respond.
Legal matters are very fact sensitive and a complete factual and legal analysis needs to be performed prior to providing any legal advice. Therefore, this answer does not constitute legal advice and it does not establish an attorney client relationship. If you do want legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.
This type of case should not be settled without an analysis of the permanent injuries, (including a complete neurological report on the traumatic brain injury), the future medical costs, and future lost income if applicable. You lawyer should be able to breakdown for you how he quantifies these different categories of damages if he is suggesting settlement and explain to you why he is suggesting settlement, including his analysis of liability issues, coverage issues, and any other issues that he thinks are important. It is likely this will be the biggest decision you and your son ever have to make. Good luck.
It's important to know why your lawyer thinks you should take this settlement. Ask your lawyer for specific reasons and details as to why s/he thinks this is a fair settlement. Remember, once you settle the case your son will not get any additional compensation in the future. Thus, you are doing the right thing by questioning the settlement and fighting for your son's rights. I wish your son a continued recovery and a fair settlement for his significant injuries.
Sounds like a heck of a case. The type most personal injury attorneys dream of with serious injury, future care and high limits. I or any attorney would have to know more about the case but you do have a good question about the valuation. It's very hard to put values on PI cases. That is because there is no book like in workmen comp. Some attorneys go by verdicts, but those numbers are not accurate. The reason is most cases settle pre-trial or even pre-suit and those settlements are not recorded. I just settled a wrongful death case with a confidentiality clause in the release so that figure will never appear in public. I used to be an adjuster for 20+ years and handled many serious BI cases and fatalities. You make it sound like suit has been filed and mediation held already. It's your case, not the attorney's. I've seen cases where the attorney really didn't want to go trial. You might wish to talk to some other attorneys in your area. But the attorney you have now has put in a lot of work to get the case to where it is now as will most likely lien the case. I'd go speak to the attorney face to face. If you don't like the answers, then go speak to others. Good luck to you. I hope your son continues to recover.
This is really an issue to discuss with your lawyer that you have retained and are paying. You may want to consider a structured settlement and I assume the attorney you have now can explain that to you. Good Luck.
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Without knowing everything about the case, it is difficult to say what a fair settlement is. You need to discuss this with the attorney who is handling the case. This person is in the best position to advise you regarding the options and the possible risks and outcomes.
Sorry to read of your son's unfortunate situation. Evaluating claims of this nature can be extremely tough for any attorney, especially when the injuries are catastrophic in nature. How much is a person's life and future really worth? This is always a very difficult question to answer. You should speak with your attorney and have him/her explain in detail why he/she recommends you settle for the amount offered. Ask the attorney to explain how he/she has determined the "settlement" value of the case, taking into consideration the past/present/future medical expenses, as well as past/present/future pain and suffering damages. When dealing with catastrophic injuries, many attorneys like myself rely on our own retained experts, such as trial consultants, vocational rehabilitation specialists, economists, etc... to help us put a number on the case. Perhaps your lawyer has already done these things and can share the information with you. Ultimately, it's your (and perhaps your son's) and not your attorney's decision on whether to settle the case. Best of luck to you and your son.
It is the client's decision as to whether to accept a settlement offer. If you do not feel the settlement offer is adequate, then you should discuss that with your attorney and option of taking the case to trial.
There is no set means to calculate damages and there is simply no possibility to undertake such an analysis here. This is ESPECIALLY true when the expectation is that you run back to the lawyer actually handling the claim and tell you won't settle for less than $2 million dollars then mumble under your breath (because some lawyers on the internet said so). While its obvious that your sons injuries are significant, and I am truly sorry that he suffered such a loss, the decision to pursue a cause to trial or to accept settlement is simply a very complicated risk assessment analysis. Best example of this is the "elite athlete" issue for valuation. On one hand, he is a future first draft pick in the NFL on the other he blows out his knee or has too many concussions and never gets into a blue chip school to even sniff the NFL. The first scenario if provable is millions of dollars in earnings losses and the second likely zero. Each damage issue in the case must be weighed in such a fashion in detail to accurately gauge whether X dollars is a reasonable value given the risk of getting less than X dollars.If you have concerns about the valuation, you may want to spend some money and hire a lawyer to provide a second opinion after reviewing the records etc.
Responses provided represent entirely un-researched, casual opinions and cannot be relied upon in any way or manner as legal advice. No communication here is intended to establish an attorney-client relationship.
Has your attorney engaged an expert to project your son's future medical cost of care? If not, you may want to discuss this with your current attorney.
It is very difficult to attempt to gauge whether or not the $500,000 offer is reasonable under all the circumstances. Only a person with first-hand knowledge of your son and the entire case file can gauge if this is a fair offer.
Has your son's claim been placed into formal suit? Your son only gets one bite at the apple and you want to make sure that it is an adequate bite. Has a vocational expert been engaged to determine your son's potential future lost ability to earn money? Has a functional capacity test been performed?. Has your son's mental acuity and ability been appropriately tested so that that information can be incorporated by a vocational expert? If you do not know the answers to these questions, I suggest you arrange a face-to-face meeting with your son's attorney to determine exactly where his case development stands. Remember, you or your son, if he is over 18, are in charge of whether or not a settlement amount is accepted, not the attorney. If the offer is insufficient in your mind, your attorney should be prepared to try your case to a verdict and, if not, you should locate new counsel or your current attorney should engage litigation counsel if he does not feel experienced enough to handle this claim.
Legal Disclaimer: 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.
I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. It's a complicated case, and it would be a good idea to get a second opinion from another attorney. There are very good attorneys in Florida on AVVO and elsewhere who would be happy to speak to you about the case. In particular, look for an attorney who is board certified in civil trial law by The Florida Bar. That indicates a certain level of expertise in a case like this.
First, I am sorry to hear about this horrible accident your son was in.
I am concerned with your statement that "there will be very little left for his future care which I believe will be great." When there are future damages, there should be what is called a life care plan put together that outlines the treatment, length of treatment, and cost into the future. If he has a diagnosed moderate TBI, the effects of those can last for years (my understanding from doctors, not my diagnosis as I am not a medical doctor). I would think there would also be some sort of functional capacity evaluation that has been done to determine both his physical and mental abilities which will influence his possible earning capacity in the future i.e. will he not be able to attend or succeed in college? Will he be limited to only sedentary work? Is his work life expectancy diminished? That being said, and I am sure you are correct that he was a great athlete, it is probably too speculative to prove he would have been a professional athlete. But, there is certainly value in the fact that dream or goal was taken from him.
You need to ask your attorney why they are recommending you take the $500,000 on a $2,000,000 UIM policy. There is always a risk at trial, but they should be able to tell you what they believe the risk is in this specific instance (not just that juries are unpredictable, but specific facts that concern them either based on liability or proving damages). I am not saying your attorney is not doing a good job or not looking out for your son's best interest. But, I think you need to ask why they believe you should take the $500,000 when the injuries seem severe, may have some permanency, and there is still $1,500,000 in coverage. They may have very good reasons and just have not clearly communicated them to you.
Best of luck to you and your son!
Disclaimer: This answer is based on the limited information provided in your questions. This answer does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship. You should seek advice from an attorney with whom you can discuss the entirety of the case and is familiar with the laws of your specific jurisdiction.
I am truly sorry to hear what happened to your son. This is something you should sit down and discuss with your attorney. Keep in mind that it is the client's decision as to whether to accept a settlement offer. You could always push forward to trial.
As a father of an elite athlete, my heart goes out to your son. Unfortunately, one of the issues in this case is future earnings. If your son already had an offer to compete professionally, that makes it a little easier, but still difficult, because of the many unknowns in professional sports. Has an economist been hired to project the future loss of wages and future medical bills? Has your attorney hired a life care planner to advise as to what future needs your son will require including medical requirements and educational needs for retraining him for a different career?
The client has the right to make the final decision regarding settlement of the case. Your best bet is to sit down with your attorney and discuss these matters. You have four years from the date of the incident, in Florida, to settle your case or file a lawsuit. Although, I'm sure you want your son's case to be over with, it is more important to make the best financial decision as you may be the person taking care of him when and if the money runs out.
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