How much should my 87 year old father demand for his injuries?

by Anonymous

In September 2015, my 87 year old father was hit head-on by a driver who crossed over into his lane. She was 100% liable. (According to her account to the police, she swerved to avoid an animal.) My father was hospitalized for 5 days with broken ribs and multiple bruises.

While he never had heart problems before, he went into atrial fibrillation in the ER and has been on blood thinners ever since. One theory is that the impact of the airbag caused his heart to go into an irregular rhythm, but it never normalized and he is now on blood thinners.

Upon his discharge home, he was unable to sleep in bed for several weeks because of his chest and neck pain. He's seen a chiropractor, who diagnosed whiplash, and he's still getting physical therapy. He has improved, but continues to suffer with neck pain and frankly, just doesn't move as well as he did before the accident.

Our no-fault insurance paid $8000 in medical bills (the policy limit). Since the policy limits were reached, approximately $15K more have been submitted to Medicare for payment. And his private supplemental insurance paid for a number of doctor bills incurred while he was in the hospital (mostly the cardiologists).

The at-fault driver's insurance company has contacted us about settling. What should we demand? Before the accident, my father was in great health and quite vigorous for his age. He walked his dog 3-4 times a day and moved easily, fluidly, and without pain. It is sad to see the change. Thank you for any information.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How much should my 87 year old father demand for his injuries?":

Anonymous (Washington):

The State of Washington is governed by no-fault insurance law. As a result, injury claims, referred to as first party claims, are made to the insured’s own insurance company. However, Washington State law also requires drivers to carry liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:

- $25,000 for injuries or death to one person
- $50,000 for injuries or death to two or more people
- $10,000 for damage to another person's property

Office of the Insurance Commissioner Washington State

Chapter 26.30 Revised Code of Washington

Fortunately, the injuries your father sustained were limited to whiplash. A whiplash injury is an injury to the neck and shoulder areas, and can include neck sprain or neck strain. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints between the vertebrae may become damaged.

The symptoms your father is experiencing because of his age are serious, but to convince the driver’s insurance company to pay for more than a whiplash injury will require a physician's medical narrative confirming your father's additional symptoms are directly related to the collisions.

You can submit that narrative to the driver's insurance company and see if they will compensate your father for his additional injuries.

There is another consideration. Your father's car insurance policy likely has a "subrogation" clause. This means any monies your father receives from the other driver will be subject to a lien from his no-fault insurance company to reimburse them for the $8,000 already paid to him.

A whiplash injury falls under the category of a "soft tissue" injury. A soft tissue injury settlement amount normally is calculated at a multiple of 1½ to 2 times the amount of medical or therapy bills.

Read more about Washington State's Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws here.

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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