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What is fair pain and suffering (consulting with lawyer next week)?

Bozeman, MT |

I was the passenger in a rear-end car accident caused by a drunk driver. Our truck was struck at high speed by a small car, while we were at a red stoplight. We didn't see him coming as he had no headlights on. Both vehicles are totaled. Two hours after the accident, I checked into the ER. They confirmed nothing was broken and discharged with neck strain/whiplash injury. Next morning, I had lost feeling in my right arm and was seen again for a CT scan. They found compressed disc at C4/C5 vertebrae and instructed a week of rest to see if the feeling would come back. Now, I have also had an MRI and they can see the compressed disc, but can't say for sure if thats the cause. I'm 24, female, no prior injury to neck. Insurance has offered cost of treatment and 1200 pain and suffering.

I wanted to add that I have a consultation with an attorney on Mon. and that I refused the settlement offer saying that I thought it was not in my best interest to discuss settlement until I am done treating. The other driver struck us was estimated to be speeding on a 35mph road and made no visible attempts to stop (no tire marks on the pavement). I've been told that even surgery can't fix the loss of sensation all the time and this could possibly be a lifelong effect. I am on a heavy cocktail of muscle relaxers, pain killers and have started steroid injections and PT to cope with the injury. What can I reasonably expect for pain and suffering? It seems like the adjuster left some zeros off his offer.

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Attorney answers 6


Do not settle with the insurance company until you have had your consultation with your attorney next week.

Because you do have a consultation, that attorney will be able to give you a much better idea of what your damages should be than anyone here.

Good luck.


First, accept NOTHING from the insurer without consulting an attorney. In fact, I would caution you not to speak with the insurer until you have consulted with a competent personal injury attorney.

As far as damages go, often situations such as yours present complications and injuries more clearly as time progresses. I don't know how long it has been since the accident happened, but often spinal issues and soft tissue injuries are not clear immediately after an accident and only appear after months of treatment. So even if the insurer's offer sounds fair right now, if you accept it and later discover you have a much more serious injury (lets say, one that requires an SI fusion, an operation that costs tens of thousands of dollars and presents serious problems down the line for someone of your age), you are barred from seeking more money from the insurer because your situation was worse than initially thought.

So although the insurance company will likely pressure to you settle quickly, doing so is not in your best interest (in most cases). This is a case in which you really should not do anything until you have a good PI attorney look at all the factors. Only then can he tell you what a fair settlement for pain and suffering would be.

Hope this helps.

This is VERY general information that is not intended to be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice. No attorney client relationship has been formed. This is based on the limited information presented to me, and should not be relied upon. Anyone seeking a legal answer to this question should consult an attorney and describe the situation more completely.


Any attorney that attempts to give you an actual monetary answer for this, you should be concerned about. It sounds to me like there is not a very accurate determination as to the extent of your injuries, nor if you are done with your medical care. If you are not released to Maximum Medical Improvement, or no longer going to see doctors for your injuries, then nobody can accurately calculate how much your pain and suffering can be.
The short answer is that your pain and suffering is always worth more than the insurance company is willing to give you without an attorney. So, if you decide you want the help of an injury attorney, you will almost always receive more compensation, even after attorneys fees, than you would obtain on your own.


I agree completely with the other three attorneys. Your case could be worth significantly more than you have been offered. Further, you may need additional treatment far in excess of their offer. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Good luck with your case. There are some good attorneys in Bozeman. I lived six years in Belgrade.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Alabama. Responses are based solely on Alabama law unless stated otherwise.


Sound advice from the above attorneys. Good luck.

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The insurance adjuster did leave some zeros off their offer. You have what sounds like serious injuries with no pre-existing spine conditions. You are smart to seek representation. A skilled personal injury attorney will help you maxamize your recovery. I'm very sorry to hear about the accident and your injuries.

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