Injured after car reversed into my vehicle while in line...

by Nancy
(Raleigh, NC)

I am a 77 year-old licensed RN and CCM. I was in line in a parking lot, waiting for the car in front of me to pull out into the traffic lanes, so I could proceed home, when I suddenly heard the car in front of me rev up his motor. Suddenly, evidently having put his car in reverse, he slammed into the front of my car.

He was 100% responsible, totally negligent, and a very careless driver who obviously never looked behind him to see that there was a car waiting in line a short distance behind. He never gave any indication of planning to back up, and smashed into the front and side of my car, necessitating $3,000 worth of body work and the use of a rental car for 9 days.

My friend and I were totally caught off guard, not even imagining something like that possibly happening. We both ended up feeling the need for some treatment for neck and back pain, and each received 6 weeks of chiropractic treatment. Neck and back pain have continued beyond the 6 weeks (when doing normal daily activities) and we both feel limited in various activities that we had previously enjoyed.

I experienced depression, lack of motivation, anxiety, emotional teary distress, memory difficulty, insomnia, fear of driving (fear when I returned to minimal driving that someone was going to hit me), TMJ problems when driving during the day and at night, and clutching of the steering wheel, which still continues to varying degrees.

I realize that it is unknown how long my symptoms will continue and particularly the long range effect of this trauma on my body such as DDD and arthritis. What is an appropriate settlement in a case like this? Is there anything I should keep in mind in a case like this? Thank you for any information you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injured after car reversed into my vehicle while in line...":

Nancy (Raleigh, NC)

Presuming the at-fault driver’s insurance company has accepted full liability for the collision, you may be entitled to damages.

While you may be entitled to damages for your injuries and directly related costs, to be compensated for "...depression, lack of motivation, anxiety, emotional teary distress, memory difficulty, insomnia, fear of driving, clutching of the steering wheel, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders..." will require medical proof.

Telling the insurance company you sustained these physical and psychological injuries is one thing; proving it is another.

While the insurance company will take into account your age, doing so will not cause much of a deviation in their settlement process. When it comes to making settlement offers, insurance companies view injury claims in this manner:

First: Was their insured wholly at fault?

Was their insured's negligence the direct and proximate cause of the collision?

Second: Did the other driver (you) contribute to the accident in any way?

The State of North Carolina follows the "Pure Contributory Negligence" rule. This means if you are found to have contributed to the collision in even the slightest amount, you will be legally barred from recovering any amount of compensation from the at-fault party or the at-fault party’s insurance company.

Read more about North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule.

Third: What "damages" did the claimant sustain as a result of the collision?

In your case, in addition to the damage to your car, your damages included "... depression, lack of motivation, anxiety, emotional teary distress, memory difficulty, insomnia, fear of driving, clutching of the steering wheel, and temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called "TMJ"

Fourth: Can the claimant substantiate his or her damages?

To sufficiently substantiate damages, an insurance company will require medical and/or psychological narratives written by licensed physicians and/or psychologists directly and exclusively linking your medical and/or psychological injuries to the negligence of their insured.

Being able to suggest a reasonable settlement demand in a case like yours would require answers to the above questions.

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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