Negotiating a Soft Tissue Damage Settlement...

by Terri
(Las Vegas, NV)

I was involved in a rear end collision on 2/18/11. I suffered a great deal of pain during the past several months. The doctor notes reveal the injuries as soft tissue damage so the insurance company's quote was ridiculously low.

I think I might have jumped the gun by submitting my settlement letter too soon. I communicated to the insurance company that I was awaiting additional information from the doctor. The doctor called back later that same day and requested an MRI due to the numbness and tingling I am still experiencing in my right arm. It was not what I expected him to say. I also communicated this information to the insurance company but they have not responded.

I have since completed the MRI and have a follow up visit scheduled on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 to find out the results. Am I on the right track?

My original offer was $35,000 (ridiculous I know but I was shootin' high), they countered offer with $10,168. I counter offered $18,650. Should I wait to get the results from the MRI and stick to my guns of $18,650 no matter what the results are?

This is the information the insurance company sent me via email:

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Medicals –Lien from carrier $4021.97, this amount is based on the written notice received from them as of 7/18/2011.

Ambulance 781.41
Your out of pocket 791.30
Loss of Earnings 973.44

Above that I have authority to extend an offer of $3,600.00 in General Damages. The specific breakdown is as follows:

Provider Lien 4021.97
Ambulance 781.41
To you direct 5364.74

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Please provide some direction? How can I negotiate a larger amount for my soft tissue damage settlement? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Negotiating a Soft Tissue Damage Settlement...":

Terri (Las Vegas, NV):

You've asked us to consider the appropriateness of a settlement offer. The determination of appropriate settlement amounts in most personal injury cases is determined by an extrapolation of Hard Costs. Your out of pocket expenses, any lost wages, future medicals, and pain and suffering are a direct product of an extrapolation of Hard Costs.

Such things as prescription medications, over the counter treatment aids, and even parking lot fees and gasoline burned while in pursuit of your treatment are all considered part of your out of pocket expenses. When negotiating a settlement these costs are not considered on a dollar for dollar basis.

Because Pain and Suffering is intangible, and as a result unable to be measured, they too are included in the extrapolation of Hard Costs. Skilled and experienced Personal Injury Attorneys are able to determine the degree of extrapolation of Hard Costs necessary to constitute a settlement which is appropriate for the injuries suffered by their clients.

The extrapolation can be anywhere from 1x Hard Costs all the way up to 100x times Hard Costs, or more. There is no limit.

We might suggest you travel to your local county courthouse and look up court records of trials and jury verdicts for past personal injury cases, especially those with soft tissue injuries similar to your own. Once you have a general idea of the jury verdicts you will have a baseline or starting point from which to negotiate your settlement.

Regrettably, because you are not an attorney your negotiations will be limited. Without an attorney you can show the insurance company's Claims Adjuster a hundred jury verdicts and if she doesn’t agree to pay you will be out of luck. You really have no leverage.

When non-attorneys negotiate their own settlements they are limited to what the Claims Adjuster is willing to pay and no more. The Adjusters are skilled at making non-attorneys think you have negotiated a substantial settlement. They may say things like “Oh that’s way above my authority”. Or “well, you really drive a hard bargain.” In reality they are negotiating you.

We can tell you the Adjuster’s offer of $10,168 is less than 3 times your Hard Costs. Depending on the extent of your soft tissue injuries that amount might be low or high. We can tell you though, less than 3 times Hard Costs, even in a soft tissue case, is considered very low.

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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