Rear ended by out of state driver...

by Anonymous
(North Carolina)

My family of four were traveling on the interstate and came to a complete stop, because there was an accident ahead of us. A young girl rear ended us going 75 mph plus. She was ticketed and faulted for the accident.

My two young children were taken by ambulance to the emergency room for soreness, cuts, bruises and stiffness. My youngest one had x-rays done on her legs and feet. My wife rode with them in the ambulance and was treated for a hurt neck, back, sternum, and a severe headache.

We have never been in an accident before and don't know where to start with negotiations. We found a formula that gave us a general number and then said to multiply it by 2 to have room to negotiate with the claims adjuster.

Medical Expenses $5553
Property Damage $8114
Lost Earnings $125
Future Lost Earnings $125
Estimated Future Medical Expenses $1000

Multiplier for General Damages 3x

Economic Damages $14917

Non-Economic Damages $20659

Total Settlement Estimate $35576

Two Times Total Settlement $71152

Is this a reasonable number to start negotiations with or will the claims adjuster kick it back as being too high? What is a reasonable number to start with? Is this formula viable or am I way off base and need to go back to the drawing board? Any perspective you can give would be appreciated.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Rear ended by out of state driver...":

Anonymous (North Carolina):

Property damage claims are normally settled separately from personal injury claims. In many cases, there are two separate adjusters; one for property damage to the car, and one for personal injuries. You have incorrectly included property damage in your settlement calculations.

Also, in most cases, insurance companies handle negotiations and settlements separately for each victim. Review these negotiation articles to learn how to handle this aspect of the claims process.

Economic damages normally include:

- Compensation to repair your car and personal property inside of it such as jewelry, computers and the like.
- Medical bills including tests such as MRIs, CT Scans, X-Rays, etc.
- Lost wages during your treatment and recovery period.
- Compensation for household services that you are no longer capable of performing, including maid service, child care, etc.
- Compensation for future economic losses, including lost wages to be incurred in the future

Non-Economic Damages normally include compensation for:

- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Damage to one’s reputation

Fortunately the injuries to your family members weren't more serious. It appears they were "soft tissue" injuries. Soft tissue injuries normally include strains and sprains to muscles, tendon, ligaments, soreness, cuts, bruises and stiffness, stiff neck, back, sternum, and headaches which are not the result of head trauma.

More serious hard injury can include fractures, deep cuts and gashes normally requiring stitches, scarring, head trauma, and the like.

Soft tissue injuries normally settle for about 1½ to 2 times the amount of medical bills. The result of that multiplier is meant to cover economic and non-economic damages. Your figures are just too high. Insurance company adjusters are experienced and never settle claims for more than they are really worth.

With a total of just a little over $5,000 in medical bills, you can expect your claims (aggregate) to settle for anywhere from $7,000 - $10,000. However, you should not settle until each of your family members' medical treatment is complete.

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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