Visitor Question

What’s considered “reasonable” damages?

Submitted By: James (Santa Ana, California)

I was involved in a vehicle accident causing me to have neck and shoulder pain. While not debilitating, I continue to experience neck and shoulder pain. I did see a chiropractor for approximately 4 months and the violating party’s insurance has paid for the vehicle damages (approximately $5K to company vehicle), but will only pay for $1,049 in medical bills and $1,700 for my pain and suffering.

I rejected their offer and have asked for additional damages since my neck and shoulder pain has limited my ability to fully participate in field training. It has also slowed my personal fitness training and I wake up every day with varying degrees of pain.

I asked for just over $10,000 (including medical bills) to compensate me for my pain.

However, the insurance company has rejected the offer.

I am considering litigation. I am not necessarily asking for punitive damages, but I am asking for fair compensation for my injury. What would be considered “reasonable” in this situation? Is there any way to answer such a question? If not, what do I need to articulate to them ensure I am compensated? Thank you.

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.

Answer

Dear James,

You really don’t have the basis for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded only rarely by the court, usually when the judge believes the actions or omissions of the party responsible for causing the damages acted willfully, intentionally, or in wonton disregard for the safety and well being of the victim. That’s not at all apparent in your case.

The traditional manner of computing a settlement demand is by taking your medical bills and multiplying them by anywhere from 1.5x – 5x or higher.

The more serious the injuries, the higher the multiple. In your case your injuries are relatively minor. The majority of your medical bills seem to be chiropractic in nature. While you haven’t indicated the total amount of your medical or chiropractic bills, it can be presumed they are approximately $1,049 dollars, or less.

In any event, you shouldn’t really expect to receive a total settlement offer much higher than 2 times your medical bills (including chiropractic).

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: September 30, 2013

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