Visitor Question

Rear-ended by driver who plead guilty to careless driving…

Submitted By: Still hurting (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

I was rear-ended by an inattentive driver in April 2017 while waiting at a red light in PA. I immediately felt pain in my neck and back, so much so I could not exit my van to view damages. The other driver’s van was towed from the scene.

I went to the ER, doctor, neurologist, MRI, and got therapy for 2-3 weeks at a total of $7800 and $4800 for car repairs. I also took paid time off of 9 days, at a value of $477/day, which I would receive compensation for at retirement at a higher rate.

I have issues with my C3-C6 discs. After five months of therapy I was released due to a plateau. A month later, numbing returned in my right arm and face. More MRIs and an EMG with a return to neurologist is scheduled.

The adjuster is offering $6500 total, citing my age (47) and soft tissue damage, providing $1500 for my “kids not having their mom.” With continuing issues, I am hesitant to settle. Should I settle on my own or retain an attorney? Is this amount fair?

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 Still hurting,

In most cases there are two claims adjusters involved in an accident claim. One adjuster deals with the property damage aspect of the claim, while the other deals with the injury portion of the claim.

You state the insurance company claims adjuster offered you a total settlement of $6,500. If that number includes your car repairs, then it is fair to say the settlement offer is quite low.

Property Damage:

Let’s presume you submitted one or more estimates for the repair of your car, and those estimates were more, or less $4,800. After reviewing the estimates, and looking at the car, it is likely the amount of $4,800 would have been authorized by the adjuster.

Personal Injury:

Let’s take a look at the injury portion of your claim. There is no mention of police presence and therefore no traffic citations issued to the driver who struck you from behind.

In the State of Pennsylvania, a driver who strikes another driver’s car from the rear is normally guilty of Pennsylvania Statute Section 3310 “Following Too Closely” which reads in part:

“The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.”

 

From the facts you present, it is clear the driver struck you from behind. As a result, liability of the driver seems apparent. However, you may have erred by not seeking the consent of the claims adjuster before seeking all that medical care. Of course, if you needed immediate emergency medical treatment there would have been no need to wait for such consent.

The insurance company is under no legal obligation to pay you any amount of money, either for your car repairs or your injuries. However, in most cases, claims adjusters will pay reasonable amounts for repairs and treatment.

The personal injury settlement offer made to you was based on the claims adjuster’s evaluation of what s/he believed was appropriate medical treatment and lost wages. Based on the amount of damages you sustained, the offer of $6,500 seems low. Be advised, even with continued negotiations, it is likely you will not be able to convince the claims adjuster to pay you substantially more than the $6,500 already offered.

It is up to you. You can continue to negotiate with the claim adjuster, or seek the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. Moreover, if an attorney accepts your case, s/he will not charge you any legal fees until, and unless the attorney prevails in securing a settlement or court award .

Learn more here: Pennsylvania Car Accident Guide

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 with your claim.

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