My wife and I were rear ended in an attempted hit and run accident...

by Anonymous
(New York)

My wife and I were recently rear ended in a car accident, where the driver attempted to flee the scene. The driver hit us three times. After the 3rd time, we assumed he was pulling over in the plaza to share his information. Instead, he took off like a speed racer, and attempted to flee from us. Fortunately I was able to chase him for around 10 minutes through 2 counties to get close enough to get his license tags.

His insurance has accepted liability and are now attempting to fix my car. I have a 2014 Nissan Rogue that was badly damaged with the initial estimate at $3500, but that's without assessing interior and mechanical damages from an actual mechanic.

My wife, who was 18 weeks pregnant with our first child, was very fearful throughout the process and cried terribly after we were able to get the picture. She ended up going to the hospital because she had migraines after the accident. Fortunately, doctors cleared her and told her she would need to rest a lot. My wife missed one day of work.

I missed 1 and 1/2 days of work because I had to get the car adjusted and take the car to the shop. I was diagnosed with sprained and strained muscles. I was advised to go see an orthopedic doctor if the pain worsens. Also, I am in the military and had a physical fitness test I was forced to miss because of the accident. I will be on a time crunch not to be promoted to Officer.

I am unsure of my medical bills yet, as far as the total amount. What should I expect as a reasonable settlement for this accident? How does the attempted hit and run play into the settlement amount and negotiations? Is there anything else I should know about when pursuing this case? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "My wife and I were rear ended in an attempted hit and run accident...":

Anonymous (New York):

The hit and run will have relatively little effect on any settlement offer made by the driver's insurance company. It's all about business.

The driver's insurance company will review the estimates for the property damage to your 2014 Nissan Rogue and the amount of medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and for the pain and suffering you and your wife suffered. The insurance company will make a settlement offer based on those factors alone.

While your wife's fearfulness, crying, and migraines were real, they will have little effect on the insurance company's decision when making their settlement offer. These factors, while palpable, were also transient, leaving little lasting effect.

Calculating a settlement demand is not an exact science. Insurance companies have their own internal software they rely upon when calculating a settlement offer. One of the most prevalent software applications used by insurance companies is Colossus.

The application claims to help insurance companies evaluate bodily injury claims with consistency, where adjusters can quickly interpret medical reports, look up attorneys' past successes in personal injury claims and lawsuits, compare medically approved and required treatments, and more. At the conclusion of a Colossus consultation, a summary of the claim is provided, including a recommended settlement range.

But you don't have access to such software. You can rely on a basic, yet time-tested calculation method to come up with a settlement demand, the "multiplier method." The multiplier method takes an injured party's medical bills and multiplies them by a anywhere from 1 to 5 times. That amount will then be used as an initial settlement demand.

For relatively minor "soft tissue" injuries, such as strains and sprains to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, cuts, gashes, minor burns, and the like, an appropriate multiple would be 2 to 3 times medical bills.

For more serious "hard injuries," such as fractures, deep gashes requiring stitches with scarring, disfigurement, head trauma and the like, the multiple can go much higher, anywhere from 3 to 5 times medical bills. And in severe injury cases, the multiple can be much higher.

From the facts you present, you and your wife sustained minor injuries. As a result, it would be realistic to demand a settlement in an amount of 3 times your medical bills. That multiplier is meant to cover your medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

After making a demand, the insurance company will counter with a much lower amount. It will then be up to you and your wife to negotiate and decide what amount of settlement you will agree to accept.

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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