What's a reasonable amount to settle a car accident knee injury case?

by Anonymous
(San Antonio, TX)

I was a passenger in car accident on my 21st birthday in December 2014. The accident was 100% the driver's fault. I hit the dashboard and busted my knee open, got 21 stitches and a ugly scar. I missed 3 days of work and was on crutches/leg brace for a month, along with physical therapy for a month.

My medical bills total $6,400. I have completed all medical treatment and was taking pain pills every day after the accident for 2 months. Now 9 months later, I am down to taking pain pills 2x week, on long days, lots of activity etc.

I understand that to arrive at an appropriate settlement amount I should multiply the amount by 2-5x, but I'm not sure what to multiply my specific case by. Any perspective you can give would be much appreciated? How much should I demand? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "What's a reasonable amount to settle a car accident knee injury case?":

Anonymous (San Antonio, TX):

From the facts you present, your injuries, while serious, did not include any fractures, dislocations, cartilage or tendon damage, or other debilitating forms of knee injury. You did though, receive 26 stitches and received an "ugly scar."

You also state you "missed 3 days of work and was on crutches/leg brace for a month, along with physical therapy for a month."

Your injuries are somewhere between "soft tissue" and "hard injuries." Hard injuries normally include fractures, torn cartilage, head trauma, permanent scars and the like. These injuries also normally include inpatient hospitalization. Soft tissue injuries are those which aren't invasive in nature and which require primarily therapy and convalescence.

You refer to your medical bills. If those medical bills are primarily chiropractic or therapeutic in nature, then the amount of money you can expect from the insurance company will be substantially less than if your medical bills were a result of surgery, a long hospital stay, or other serious medical treatment.

For example, if the $6,400 in medical bills you speak of primarily represented chiropractic and physical therapy bills, the claims adjuster might reduce the offer by about half.

The adjuster already has some leverage on you. He or she knows you don't have an attorney. As a result, the adjuster knows you very likely won't go to trial. Theoretically, the adjuster can say "take it or leave it." While there is some truth to that, adjusters are bound to be reasonably fair when dealing with "pro se" injury victims.

However, you can be confident the amount offered to you will be substantially less than the amount which might be offered to an attorney, especially an experienced personal injury attorney. Review these negotiation articles to learn how to handle this aspect of the claims process.

When it comes to how insurance companies determine settlement amounts there is no industry-wide standard. Different insurance companies have different procedures.

Many insurance companies rely on a software program called Colossus. Other insurance companies rely on different proprietary software. Colossus is believed to be used by most of the top auto insurance companies to "calculate" the settlement amount for a minor to moderate car accident.

Insurance companies which are said to use Colossus include Aetna, Allstate, CNA, Erie, Farmers, Metropolitan, Ohio Casualty, The Hartford, MetLife, Travelers, USAA and Zurich.

In your case, you would not be unreasonable to demand a settlement in the mount of four times your medical bills. Once again, if those medical bills are primarily chiropractic or therapeutic in nature, you can expect to be offered not much more than 1.5 to 2 times the amount of those bills.

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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