Can I Change the Amount of Demand After Filing a Lawsuit?
While driving my compact car in October 2007, I was completely stopped at a red light waiting for oncoming traffic to clear (in order to make a right turn) when I was rear-ended by an SUV. Police responded to the scene and found the other driver at fault.
Due to severe pain in my neck and shoulders 3 days after the accident I went to a chiropractor, who determined after taking x-rays that I incurred whiplash and other neck, back, and shoulder injuries as a result of the accident. I saw this chiropractor 3 times per week for approximately 3 months following the accident and continue to receive ongoing chiropractic care for treatment of my injuries.
My current chiropractor has recommended I continue to receive regular adjustments for the foreseeable future (likely for the rest of my life) in order to minimize pain and discomfort due to the injuries I incurred.
The at-fault driver's insurance company paid for repairs to my vehicle shortly after the accident. After consulting a family friend who is an attorney, I calculated my out-of-pocket expenses associated with the accident as of early 2008, multiplied that amount by 3, and sent a demand letter to the at-fault driver's insurance company requesting a settlement of $20,000. The at-fault driver's insurance company refused to pay; I subsequently hired an attorney to handle my case in September of 2008.
My attorney has communicated almost nothing to me throughout the time he's been working on my case. In 2009, approximately 1 year after taking my case, my attorney sent his own demand letter to the at-fault driver's insurance company also requesting settlement in the amount of $20,000.
The insurance company continued to refuse to pay, and my attorney filed suit against the at-fault driver on my behalf in spring of 2010. Thus far, a trial date has not been set; my attorney advised me today that a trial date "should be set soon".
Since my attorney's demand letter was sent in 2009, I have continued to receive ongoing chiropractic care, and I continue to experience moderate to severe pain and discomfort due to my injuries.
I recently estimated the expenses associated with the accident which I've incurred since my attorney's initial demand of $20,000. These expenses multiplied by 3 for pain and suffering & combined with estimated future expenses and the initially demanded $20,000 total increases to approximately $175,000 - $200,000.
Is it possible for my attorney to change the demanded settlement amount since the lawsuit has already been filed, or would he have to withdraw this suit and file a new one in order to increase the demand from $20,000 to $175,000 or $200,000?
My attorney has not factored in any of the expenses I've incurred since the initial $20,000 demand or any of the future expenses I'm likely to incur as a direct result of the accident. My health insurance policy has covered the chiropractic care I've received since 2009; can I claim expenses covered by my health insurance company since I had to maintain health insurance in order for the expenses to be covered, pay my health insurance deductible, and may not always have insurance that covers chiropractic care?
My chiropractor's office recently told me that, had they known of my pending lawsuit, they would have billed my attorney for my visits instead of my health insurance company. As I stated previously, my attorney has done a very poor job of keeping me informed, so I'm completely in the dark on how best to handle any of these issues. Any info you could give would be much appreciated, thanks.
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ANSWER for "Can I Change the Amount of Demand After Filing a Lawsuit?":
When our readers tell us, or we have reason to believe they are already represented by Counsel (An Attorney), it is inappropriate for us to comment on the communications between the reader-client and his or her Attorney. From the facts you present it appears your attorney is doing what any other experienced personal injury attorney would have done.
When it comes to chiropractic care, without strongly supportive medical evidence the case is usually quite weak.
Insurance companies know many chiropractors suffer from a conflict of interest. When many chiropractors treat their patients, there is a tendency to prolong treatment in an effort to increase their fees when the case is settled or won at trial.
In 2007 a nationwide study was conducted by the the National Insurance Foundation to gauge the rate of chiropractic treatment subsequent to their patient settling or winning their case at trial.
The study found when chiropractors were treating patients involved in vehicular collisions, the treatment continued steadily until the patient’s legal case was either settled or won at trial.
The study found 78% of the chiropractors they anonymously studied discontinued treatment of their patients immediately at the time they were informed the patient's legal case had been settled, won, or lost.
The study also found 84% of chiropractic patients discontinued their treatment at the time of the final disposition of their cases.
Relying on a chiropractor’s diagnosis and treatment as the basis of your claim is at best tentative, and at worst, non-existent.
Your injuries are referred to as “soft tissue” injuries. As such, and without medical evidence to support your claim, the probability of settling your case favorably is very low.
Best of luck,
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