How do I counter a lowball pain and suffering settlement offer?

by Paul

About two months ago I was rear ended on the Highway. The driver of the vehicle who hit me was deemed to be 100% at fault. I was diagnosed with whiplash related injuries. My medical bills for this accident totaled $7500, which included a trip to the ER, X-rays, and a number of physical therapy appointments.

Today I was contacted and offered a settlement of $7500 + $1000 for my pain and suffering, for a total of $8500. This seems like a lowball offer to me. What is a fair amount that I should look to receive and what multiplier should I base my initial request off of? How can I get them to increase their offer? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How do I counter a lowball pain and suffering settlement offer?":

Paul (Missouri):

A whiplash injury is a sprain or strain to the neck, and can manifest several symptoms. In a whiplash injury, the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged.

Whiplash can be caused by a sudden backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head. These injuries are most frequently caused by car accidents, and are normally classified as a "soft tissue" injuries.

Soft tissue injury settlements rarely exceed 2-3 times the amount of medical and therapy bills. In soft tissue injuries, the injured party's medical bills are normally limited, while the physical therapy, including mostly chiropractic visits, are much higher.

Insurance companies are skeptical of chiropractic bills. Moreover, while not meaning to disparage chiropractic treatment, most insurance companies view repeated chiropractic visits as no more than expensive massage therapy.

As a result, insurance companies often make settlement offers based on chiropractic visits at 1 to 1½ times the amount of chiropractic bills. Medical settlement offers however, are based on multiples of two to three times medical bills. These multiples are meant to cover medical and/or therapy bills,out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The insurance company's settlement offer of $8,500 appears to be low. However, you must be realistic. If the bulk of your bills were for therapy, you won't be able to secure a settlement offer from the insurance company much higher than two (2) times the total amount of medical and therapy bills.

In your case, it would not be inappropriate to demand three (3) times medical and therapy bills, or $22,500. If you can negotiate down to $15,000.00 dollars you will have secured a reasonable and realistic settlement.

Here's a brief overview of the negotiation process.

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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