How does being on social security disability affect my current injury settlement?
(San Jose, CA)
I was in an accident while currently on social security disability for a back injury. At the time of my current accident, I was off all pain medication and was riding a bike and my back was in pretty good shape. When I got hit, I fractured my pelvis and couldn't walk for 7 weeks. After that, I experienced severe back pain.
I continue to suffer from back pain and my MRI shows two torn discs. I am going to have injections on Friday.
The two year filing date is in 45 days. I wanted to try and settle this myself, but am unsure what my case is worth. My medical bills are about $15,000, and since I was not working I have no wage loss, and the only property damage was my clothes that they cut off me at the hospital. I went into a severe depression for about eight months and almost lost my housing.
Also, I had to apply for medical to pay for the medical bills. I also paid out a lot of money to have people drive me to doctors, pick up prescriptions, etc.
How does my prior back injury and social security disability affect my case? How can I determine what my pain and suffering is worth in this instance (taking into account my prior injury)? Thanks for any information you can give.
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ANSWER for "How does being on social security disability affect my current injury settlement?":
Karen (San Jose, CA):
Your social Security disability benefits should not be affected by money you may receive in a settlement if that money is only for medical bills, out of pocket expenses and pain and suffering. If though, any of the settlement money is in the form of lost wages, your social security disability benefits may be in jeopardy.
This makes it vitally important for you to make sure when your injury case is settled none of the money reflects lost wages. Sometimes insurance companies make mistakes in settling injury claims.
While an injured person may have no lost wages, an insurance company sometimes makes reference to lost wages in the settlement agreement or release. Therefore its important for you to read any settlement documents or releases very carefully.
One of the traditional methods used by attorneys to settle injury cases is multiplying their clients' medical bills by anywhere from 1 1/2 to 5x, or even higher, depending upon the severity of their clients' injuries.
You injuries are quite serious. Therefore you might start your settlement negotiations by demanding $100,000 and negotiate down from there. While it's highly unlikely the insurance company will settle for that amount, because of the severity of your injuries it would not be unreasonable for you to demand that much.
The problem you may have is your pre-existing injury. To settle your case for a substantial amount you will need medical proof your recent injury is unrelated to your preexisting injury.
BECAUSE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS EXPIRES IN 45 DAYS YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY RETAIN AN ATTORNEY OR YOU MUST FILE A LAWSUIT YOURSELF BEFORE 45 DAYS HAS ELAPSED. AFTER THAT TIME YOU WILL LOSE ALL YOUR RIGHTS TO ANY RECOVERY FOR YOUR INJURIES AND WILL BE BARRED FROM FILING A LAWSUIT.
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,
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