Pain and suffering amount for lifetime disability injury?

by Jimmy
(Centerville, Ohio)

My wife and I were in an accident in October of 2015. We were rear ended by someone who wasn't paying attention and ran a red light. The police report states that he was at fault for "failure to maintain a safe distance." The impact with which he hit us was severe to the point that you can read his plate number on our car because it is indented into the bumper.

My wife and I both suffered injuries but her's were way more severe than mine. My wife has been to the hospital 3 times, physical therapy, a psychologist for comprehension and memory issues, as well as a neurologist for increased seizure activity. Both the psychologist and neurologist have determined that she is going to be "mentally" disabled for the rest of her life.

We have an attorney but are shopping for a new one due to "lack of interest in our case and communication."

My question is, how much money should we ask for due to having a lifetime disability (verified by 2 different doctors) including pain and suffering, medical and prescription costs, and past and future doctors/hospital visits due to this accident?

I think the amount that we ask for should be more than enough to cover all current and future expenses, as well as provide a comfort level of life, but the attorney we have now acts like it's more of a "small claims" case like we are not going to get hardly any money out of this, which is making me nervous.

Please help me with a figure so that when I do find the right attorney I can at least have an amount in my head when we sit down for a consultation. Thank you for any direction you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Pain and suffering amount for lifetime disability injury?":

Jimmy (Centerville, Ohio):

It is our policy here at not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be inappropriate. It is in your best interest and those of your wife to heed the advice and counsel of your attorney.

Generally speaking, rear-end collisions do not result in brain damage, nor do they result in neurological issues leaving victims permanently mentally disabled. However, anything is possible, and it sounds like your collision was serious.

To prove a collision resulted in brain damage or a lifetime mental disability will require a neurologist and psychiatrist to write medical narratives directly linking the collision to your wife's disability. Without such supporting evidence, a claim for brain injuries resulting in a lifetime disability will fail.

Insurance companies will simply not compensate car accident victims without written medical proof of a specific injury, along with a direct link to a collision. They will only pay for those medical and therapy bills required to treat a victim.

Once that treatment is completed, and the victim is fully recovered, or has reached a level of maximum medical improvement, where additional treatment will not substantially increase the victim’s well-being, the insurance company stops consideration of compensation for future treatment.

There are rarely "open-ended" payouts from insurance companies in cases similar to yours and that of your wife's. Instead, the insurance company will analyze the factors related to the collision and make an offer they believe fairly represents your damages and those of your wife. These offers are normally based on an an amount determined by an insurance company's sophisticated computer program.

A realistic settlement offer will be based on a victim’s "damages." Those damages can include compensation for present and future medical and therapy bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Your injuries are not enumerated nor described. Nor are your wife's, other than you stating she was mentally disabled. One can presume neither you nor your wife sustained any fractures, deep gashes requiring stitches, serious burns, disfigurement, or similarly serious injuries.

From your description, it appears the amount of compensation your are requesting is based primarily, and almost exclusively on your wife’s lifetime mental disability.

If that truly is the case, and you are unable to provide the medical evidence required, then the compensation you can hope to receive from the insurance company will be quite limited, and possibly not much more than the amount you might receive in a small claims case.

Almost all personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means the amount of the attorney’s fee is directly proportional to the amount of settlement or court award the attorney obtains for his or her client. The higher the settlement or court award, the higher the attorney’s fees. This is a built-in incentive for an attorney to strive to obtain the highest possible compensation for his or her client.

While you have every right to dismiss your attorney and retain another, you should know your present attorney likely retains a lien on any compensation you or your wife receive.

This means at the end of the case, not only will your new attorney be paid, but your present attorney will likely be paid out of the settlement or court award as well. This would reduce your net settlement proportionally.

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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