Visitor Question

Low Ball Settlement Offer?

Submitted By: Steven (Memphis, TN)

A lady pulled out in front of me at an intersection where she failed to yield to traffic (that’s what she got the ticket for). Well my car was totaled and the insurance company wasn’t gonna fix it. I settled with the insurance adjuster for the car portion of it.

I had to start seeing the doctor the day of the wreck, who was at the hospital I went to to get checked out. Everything came out positive but my shoulder was giving me some problems. A week later I went and saw my family doctor for a post check up and because my shoulder was still giving me problems.

They immediately put me in physical therapy that day. I did therapy for a month with some improvement, but was not 100%. Physical Rehab then sent me to a specialist who sent me in for an MRI. The MRI showed significant damage and surgery was the only option to fix the problem. The surgery was done approximately 2 months after the wreck. The MRI showed I had cartilage torn between the left shoulder and arm (the medical term is the “labrum”) they had to repair.

I’ve been 3 weeks out of surgery and I’m on course for recovery, but I’ve racked up a ton of medical bills and on top of the co-pays I have had to pay out of pocket expenses.

I have accumulated $30,000 minimum on medical which my health insurance is picking up right now. I had to miss 2 weeks of work and my co-pays have equated to around $750.00 so far. I probably have a month or two left of rehab if all goes well.

I hope that was enough info. My question is: what would be a good starting amount to ask the insurance company for pain and suffering, for all the co-pays I’ve been paying out of pocket, and for my lost wages?

My parents say I should start at $50,000 with the car insurance company, I believe the adjuster is gonna low ball me. I do know that health insurance companies get a kind of a discount on medical bills as opposed to what you and I would be charged. The car insurance company doesn’t get that luxury of paying what the health insurance got charged, do they?

Any other info or insight you have please let me know! Thanks!

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.


Dear Steven,

The manner in which personal injury cases have been settled has remained the same for many years. We will try to explain the “formula” and how it applies to your case…

When approaching a personal injury case one must look at the amount of insurance money available from the at-fault driver. Unless the at-fault driver has substantial personal wealth, the amount of money available to pay for the damages caused will be limited to the amount of her insurance policy.

Most states require their drivers to have in effect a specified amount of insurance. In the state of Tennessee the minimum insurance requirements by state law are 25/50/10. Let’s explain what that means…

The 25 reflects the maximum amount of insurance money available to pay to an injured driver. That amount is $25,000 dollars.

The 50 reflects the maximum amount of insurance available to pay any number of people injured in the same collision. That amount is $50,000 dollars. So if you had one passenger in your car and she was also injured the maximum amount available to pay an additional driver would be up to $50,000 dollars.

So, for instance if you had 3 passengers in your car plus you as the driver, the maximum amount of insurance available for the injuries of all of you would be $50,000. That amount would have to be divided according to extent of each passenger’s injuries. If the $50,000 dollars were split 4 ways, you and each passenger would receive at most $12,500; certainly not enough to pay even a small part of your expenses.

The 10 of the 25/50/10 is the maximum amount available to pay any of your automobile damages.

Now you can certainly begin the negotiations by requesting $50,000 dollars, but the insurance company will immediately inform you the maximum amount available is only $25,000 dollars. That is it, and not a penny more.

The only way you would be able to get more is if you filed suit against the at-fault driver and received a court or jury verdict of that additional amount. For you that would be a minimum additional amount of $25,000 over the maximum police limits already available.

If the court verdict, let’s say was $100,000 dollars, the insurance company would have to tender the first $25,000 dollars to you. Then to collect the additional $75,000 dollars you would have to seize the at-fault drivers personal assets.

In summary, you will be limited to the maximum amount of insurance the at-fault driver carried at the time of the collision, and above that her personal assets.

Learn more here: Using Traffic Laws to Win Your Claim

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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