Negligence resulting in death of elderly woman...
My mother was walking down a path outside of her independent living facility. The path was lined with large stones and abutted a small embankment. The path had no railing, but there were other railings on other paths around the facility.
The path curved around the large stones and my mother fell on the stones and down the embankment. She is 85 years old. She broke 6 ribs, her collarbone and her wrist in the fall. She has been in the hospital for 2 months and will likely die. The insurance company has agreed verbally to accept responsibility and pay expenses and some "settlement".
What is the compensation level we can expect for an 85-year-old woman (whose life was very vibrant before the accident - she worked 1 day/week, drove, lived independently, and swam 3 days a week)?
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ANSWER for "Negligence resulting in death of elderly woman...":
From the facts you present we can only presume you are inquiring about compensation for the injuries sustained while your grandmother is alive. We would prefer not to speculate on the monetary value of her death. We can only hope she recovers from her injuries sufficiently to enjoy the rest of a full life.
The compensation level for a living 85 year old woman can be the same as for a young healthy 25 year old. It all depends upon factors which are taken into consideration when a person has been wrongfully injured. The factors are medical bills, lost wages, if any, out of pocket expenses and pain and suffering.
Differentiating between the amount of pain and suffering endured by different people is impossible.
Because the duration of recovery for an 85 year old person is substantially higher than that of a much younger person the medical bills will be higher, therapy longer, and the pain and suffering will endure longer as well.
A settlement for such a serious injury will be determined by the factors set out above. Insurance companies are businesses with shareholders to answer to. As a result you can be assured the amount of money they will offer to settle your mother’s claim will be minimal. They told you they were willing to pay your mother’s expenses and some settlement amount. The problem with that is their definition of “expenses” and “some settlement” amount.
Without specificity you are left at the mercy of the insurance company. Worse, unless you have a Specific Power of Attorney from your mother to act in her behalf in settlement negotiations the insurance company will only agree on a settlement amount after receiving your mother’s express written approval.
In cases of this magnitude it would be ill-advised to attempt to negotiate your mother’s insurance settlement. We say this because if the insurance company makes an offer of settlement and you disagree you will have no leverage upon which to negotiate. Their "take it or leave it” attitude will leave you wondering what to do next to increase their offer.
The truth is there is not much you can do. Skilled Personal Injury Attorneys have substantial leverage, including, but not limited to depositions, pre-trial pleadings, and trial itself. That is the best leverage possible, and insurance companies respect that and therefore negotiate accordingly.
Normally injury cases are settled in multiples of the amount of medical bills. Insurance companies may offer to pay only medical bills and therapy, but little more. A starting place for you would be to require a settlement amount of 3 – 5 times the amount of medical bills. That multiple includes amounts for past, present and future medical bills, as well as lost wages, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering.
If you are successful in receiving a settlement amount for injuries within or above the 3 – 5 multiples you have done very well.
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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