Compensation for personal injuries and loss of classic car?

by Randall
(Vancouver, WA)

Another driver ran a stop sign and t-boned my freshly restored classic car. The other driver admitted fault to me, witnesses, and a police officer at the scene. He was cited for failure to stop. My car rolled one and a half times and I was taken to the hospital by ambulance and kept overnight.

There were no hard injuries, only pain from neck and shoulder sprains, and a few minor cuts requiring stitches.

After a couple of months, all pain was gone and I was back to my pre-accident condition without further treatment. While I received fair value for my car, I'm out all of the time and "sweat equity" I put into the car, and missed the season of car shows.

My medical bills were $25,000, my car was valued at $34,000, and those have been covered by my car insurance and medical insurance. I'm out about $1,800 in lost wages from missed work. The other guy's insurance company is now offering me $4,000 for personal injury. I've seen personal injury guidelines of 1.5 to 3 times medical bills.

Is their offer as ridiculously low as it sounds? What is a reasonable amount to expect? What options do I have? Thanks for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Compensation for personal injuries and loss of classic car?":

Randall (Vancouver, WA):

This is a good example if why personal injury attorneys are invaluable in personal injury claims. While no one would accuse you of "padding" your costs, it seems entirely unreasonable your medical bills totaled $25,000.

According to the facts you present, you stayed overnight in the hospital, apparently for observation. No CT Scan (Computer Axial Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) exam, or even were X-rays taken. While hospital bills can be high, an overnight stay with no testing could not have conceivably amounted to $25,000.

What you may be may be implying is post-hospital you sought out physical therapy for your soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries are normally defined as strains and sprains to ligaments, muscles and tendons, minor bruising, and cuts, whiplash, and other relatively minor injuries.

The problem is that $23,000, $24,000, or even $25,000 worth of physical therapy for soft tissue injuries is quite excessive, and that includes your lost wages and pain and suffering. That's why you are having trouble getting the insurance company to offer you more than $4,000 for your personal injuries.

An experienced personal injury would have told you the amount of medical bills and physical therapy that's normal for your type of soft tissue injuries, and how much you could have expected to settle your injury claim for. You can be sure no personal injury attorney, even one fresh out of law school, would have guided you toward $25,000 in medical bills.

Here's another very important consideration...

According to you, your insurance company already paid you $25,000. Why they did is difficult to understand considering the circumstances. In any event, even if you were to convince the driver's insurance company to offer you $25,000 or less, that money would have to be turned over to them. This is referred to as "subrogation."

Your insurance company has a right to "subrogate" against you. This means you don't get to "double dip" as they say. If you really did have $25,000 in medical bills, you need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you. The stakes are too high for you to go it alone.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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