Visitor Question

How much should my 84 year old mother ask for in auto accident claim?

Submitted By: A (USA)

We were involved in an accident where the other driver was 100% at fault. She hit us head on, but we were trying to stop. Our vehicle was totaled by her insurance company and this has been taken care of.

My 84 year old mother was the passenger. She went to the emergency room immediately after the accident. Luckily there were no broken bones. She was badly bruised across her chest from the seat belt and had “whiplash” like symptoms. These worsened to severe headaches and neck pain.

She could not do her daily activities or sleep in her bed for 4 weeks. Since that time she is doing much better, and she and her doctor have decided she has finished her treatment. Her medical bills are around $11,000. How much is an appropriate amount to claim for her pain and suffering? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear A,

Your Mother’s injuries, while not considered serious for persons of a much younger age, are quite serious for an 84 year old. Fortunately, your Mother’s doctor has cleared her from serious injuries, but at her age who knows how the accident may have shortened her life span.

Your Mother’s injuries are considered “soft-tissue” injuries. These normally include sprains and strains to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, cuts and abrasions, minor burns, and the like. More serious “hard injuries” can include fractures, head trauma, disk herniation, 3rd degree burns, and the like.

Hard injuries demand much higher settlement amounts than soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injury settlements are often determined by multiplying medical bills by anywhere from 1.5 to about 3 or 4x. So in your mother’s case, starting off with a demand of $33,000 + out-of-pocket expenses would be reasonable. You’ll likely have to negotiate with the insurance company from there.

Hard injury settlements are often calculated at 5-6x medical bills, and even higher multiples for the most serious injuries and permanent disabilities. Serious injury cases should only be handled by an experienced attorney.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: November 26, 2014

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