What's a fair settlement for pain and suffering with a lower back injury?

by Robbin
(Lombard, IL)

On one day in January 2010 I was on a lunch break from work. I was stopped at a stop sign when another car came up from behind and simply didn't stop. I drive a 2005 pick up truck, the other driver had a loaner from a car dealership. He was driving a brand new sedan. He got out of the car and stated he was counting money and didn't see me.

After several days of arguing with his insurance company over who was responsible they finally agreed to get my truck fixed. They wanted the car dealer that loaned their client the sedan to take responsibility. I saw a chiropractor for a few months. I did not take any time off work. So my question is, what is pain and suffering worth in this case?

I am not in severe pain. I would call it very uncomfortable at times. Standing, sitting and walking for half an hour, I'm ok. Hit that 45 minutes to an hour and my lower back and shoulders start hurting. I take ibuprofen several times a day and constantly stop to do range of motion exercises.

I used to love gardening, that has turned into such work. The insurance company is offering me $2,000. Is that fair? They treated me poorly in the beginning. I feel like my life is still disrupted every day. I can't get out of bed without being reminded of what happened. I'm not a greedy person. I just want what's fair, $2,000 just doesn't sound like much.

Thanks for your time.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "What's a fair settlement for pain and suffering with a lower back injury?":

Robbin:

There are several factors which help determine the “fairness” of a settlement offer. Coming to a fair settlement amount is more of an art than a science. Let’s take a look at some of the factors involved in settlements and apply them to your case:

Normally settlement amounts are based upon the total amount of medical bills incurred as a direct and proximate result of the collision. In your case it appears you do not have any medical bills. You do though have chiropractic bills.

Insurance companies have traditionally been hesitant to afford the same credibility to chiropractors as they have to medical or osteopathic doctors. The “pecking order” of credibility for insurance companies in such matters is:

The highest: Medical Doctors - MD
Next: Osteopathic Doctors – DO
Finally: Chiropractors - DC

What does this mean to you? Let’s say as a result of the “loaner guy's” negligence you incurred medical bills such as X-rays, MRIs, and other medically related treatment prescribed by a medical doctor. In this scenario after receiving the medical treatment you were back to normal.

The total of the medical bills was $600 dollars. Presuming you did not have any out-of-pocket expenses, the normal and reasonable settlement amount would be $1,800 dollars, or 3 times the $600 dollars you spent.

With a Chiropractor there aren’t any medical bills and the insurance companies have been reticent to pay more than the actual amount of the chiropractic bills. So if you had $600 dollars in chiropractic bills the insurance company might only offer $600 dollars as full settlement.

For you the problem will be determining if you will need future chiropractic treatment. If so it is probable the insurance company will not want to pay for those future bills.

So you will have to take a close look at your chiropractic bills incurred so far and see if the amount they are offering will be enough to pay for the present and future chiropractic treatment. In your case $2,000 dollars might be a good settlement.

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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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION