My husband and I were injured when a van pulled out from a stop sign into our motorcycle – the van driver did not see us in front of him. The van was not damaged and the driver was not injured. The accident was in New York.
We were taken to the Emergency Room. My husband had cracked ribs and a severely bruised right thigh. I had severe road rash on my right hand and right leg below the knee. We were both out of work for 6 weeks. I ended up with an infection in my wounds and had to see a wound care center for healing.
I ended up with dark permanent scars on my right leg below the knee. I also have a slight tear in my right meniscus which does not, at this point, require medical attention. My husband has no lingering injuries or scars. My husband is 46 and I am 45.
My medical bills were approximately $9,500 and my husband’s were $6,500. We are being offered an additional $10,000 for myself and $5,000 for my husband for pain and suffering. We decided at the beginning not to use a lawyer and the van’s insurance company directly paid all medical bills.
We still do not want to involve a lawyer and want to keep this out of court but we are unsure what to counter with for a pain & suffering offer. Do you have any suggestions?
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.
Here are a few of the factors employed in the settlement of a personal injury case:
-Checking the driver’s criminal and driving record in all 50 states.
-Taking the driver’s deposition subjecting him to perjury and substantial prison time for fabrications.
-If the van was commercial a review of the maintenance records should have been done. A collision with an improperly maintained van (For example brakes which didn’t allow the driver to stop in time), would play a very substantial role in the final settlement or court judgment.
-A close review of the Police Report taken at the scene, especially the codes entered by the police or troopers can be of paramount importance. The codes are indicative of factors which could weigh heavily upon an award to you and your husband of Punitive Damages.
(Punitive Damages are those additional damages a court or jury may assess in addition to Pain and Suffering. Punitive Damages are usually larger than Actual Damages and Pain and Suffering added together.)
You mentioned the van driver was unable to see you. If his reason for not seeing you was because of an obstruction such as a large tree, high shrubs, or a sign there is a very good chance the case would include third party liability making additional settlement money available.
If there were obstructions it would be very important to depose the owner of the property on which the obstruction lay in an effort to learn if there had been previous claims which had previously put him on notice of the obstruction’s threat to the health and safety of others.
It is also very important to know whether the driver, private or commercial, had ingested any drugs, whether prescribed or not. It would be important to review the responding police officer’s notes that he took while working the scene. Failing to read the officer’s notes in a case like yours would amount to malpractice if you were an attorney. Police notes can contain at-fault driver’s admissions of fault, the driver’s state of mind, and more.
The problem you’re going to run into is your practical inability to conduct depositions or send out Interrogatories to the driver and third parties. Without the proper information in hand it will be impossible to determine if the amount of a total of $15,000 is a fair settlement. It might be, but that’s not very probable.
Negotiating a case with a very wily insurance adjuster is often difficult even for a skilled attorney. The insurance adjusters are often well trained and experienced. Although they may persuade you they are giving you every penny available, the truth is they are not.
The adjuster’s primary duty is to protect his employer’s money and to dole it out sparingly. They love people who want to settle their own cases, and will often enjoy mutually demeaning an attorney’s role in the process.
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,