Negotiating a whiplash settlement...

by Sally

I will try to be brief. I was rear ended in January and ambulanced to the hospital. I had whiplash and a neck strain. I wore a neck brace 24-7 for 11 days. Then I had physical therapy for another 8 weeks. After the 8 weeks, I let a month go by and I was still sore and in pain, so I went back to the doctor and was told to go back to therapy for 6 more weeks.

I continued to have pain and headaches every day until therapy was over. Now I'm trying to settle. My medical bills total $25,000, car damage $5,500, lost wages/commissions, etc. I'm trying to figure pain and suffering amount. I heard you take 3-4 times the medical bills. Is that correct? How does the negotiating work? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Negotiating a whiplash settlement...":

Sally (Indiana):

You're correct about the multiple system. It's a reliable formula and has been used by attorneys and insurance companies for many years. Your injuries are "soft tissue." Soft tissue injuries aren't nearly as compensable as "hard injuries," like broken bones, head trauma (more than whiplash), serious burns, scarring, and the like.

For instance, in your case you might start your negotiations at 5 times, or $125,000.00 dollars. Because your injuries are primarily soft tissue it's more likely the insurance company will offer you 1.5 times the amount of your medical bills. Years ago insurance company didn't hesitate to pay out much higher multiples for soft tissue injuries. Those halcyon days are forever gone. Today insurance companies won't hesitate to go to court.

You might try and settle for an amount between 1.5 and 3x your medicals, plus out-of-pocket expenses. Try and keep the negotiations high. Don't settle for any less than 2x, and try hard to get 3x. In your case, 3x would be a reasonable settlement.

Your next consideration will be the total amount of available insurance to cover your damages. If the driver's insurance policy limits are the state mandated minimum, it won't cover all your damages. The insurance company will simply pay you the policy limits. In that case, you may have to sue the driver privately.

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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