My wife was injured in a vehicle accident. She was rear ended by a mini-van that was rear ended by a car while at a traffic light.
Our 2 small children were also in the car (1 year old and 8 year old) both in their car seats and they did not sustain physical injuries. My wife, however, got whiplash that resulted in 19 chiropractor visits.
We live 15 miles outside of town and she stays home and home-schools our children. Each trip took a good 3 hours out of her day and regular tasks to go to the chiropractor, and due to pain from the whip lash she had trouble holding and breastfeeding the baby.
Her medical expenses totaled $3,952 (as we refused ambulance treatment, and went to an urgent care instead of having to wait in an emergency room).
I have been negotiating with the insurance company of the at-fault driver and they refuse to go any higher that $5,252.00 total – which only leaves $1,250 for her pain & suffering.
I feel that the offer is too low. Should I seek legal help? I’d appreciate any information you can give me.
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.
Thank you for your question, and we hope your wife is doing better. You should seek legal help from a personal injury attorney in negotiating with the insurance company.
Your wife may be entitled to more for her pain and suffering. She may also have a legitimate claim against both of the other drivers involved in the accident.
Pain and Suffering in General
The laws in North Carolina allow victims to recover pain and suffering when injured in a motor vehicle accident. North Carolina drivers are required to carry liability insurance to compensate injury victims like your wife.
North Carolina mandates minimum liability limits:
“…[S]uch policy or bond is subject, if the accident has resulted in bodily injury or death, to a limit…of not less than thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident and… not less than sixty thousand dollars ($60,000) because of bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in any one accident, and, if the accident has resulted in injury to or destruction of property, to a limit of not less than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) because of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.”
NC Stat. § 20-249.5
“Pain and suffering” is a term used for non-economic “general” damages that can’t be calculated by adding up bills and receipts.
The damages are sometimes best thought of as the emotional side of an injury. Pain and suffering represent the “mental anguish” a person endures after being injured by someone else.
Any of the following can make a person experience this anguish:
- Physical pain and discomfort, whether temporary or permanent
- Depression, anxiety, memory loss, insomnia, or other emotional disorders
- Physical limitations, including the inability to play with your children or hug them
- Loss of consortium (supportive relationship) with your family members
- Any other emotional or psychological trauma
Calculating Your Pain and Suffering
A popular way to calculate pain and suffering is via “the multiple method.” This calculation is made by totaling your wife’s economic damages and applying a multiple from one to five.
Economic damages are your wife’s medical expenses. Here, they total $3,952.
Now, to arrive at a specific pain and suffering award for your wife, we need to multiply this amount by a number from one to five. The tricky part of using the multiple method to calculate your pain and suffering is figuring out which number to use as a multiple.
Unless an accident leaves a victim with some type of critical or permanent injury, a demand for pain and suffering will probably be between one and three times the amount of a victim’s economic damages.
This means that a fair award for your wife’s pain and suffering might range from $3,952 (her economic damages multiplied by one) up to $11,856 (her economic costs multiplied by three). These figures are only an estimate.
The value of non-economic damages can be greatly affected by many factors.
For example, your wife’s pain and suffering includes not only her physical injuries, but how her injuries had a direct impact on the well-being and education of your children.
A less favorable factor is that she refused medical treatment at the scene and declined ambulance transport to the hospital. The adjuster may question the severity of her injuries.
Seek Help From a Lawyer
We recommend contacting a North Carolina injury attorney for help. Given that your wife was injured in a multi-vehicle accident, she may have recourse against more than one negligent driver.
Insurance companies aggressively fight whiplash claims, especially if there is a sizable pain and suffering award involved.
Adjusters are also notorious for making “take it or leave it” offers to whiplash victims who are not represented by a lawyer. They know you probably won’t have the legal savvy or the energy to fight for more money.
Further, a local attorney may also have experience in negotiating with the same insurance company that you’re dealing with.
Do yourself a favor and contact an injury lawyer today. This act may seem like yet another hurdle in your case, but the help you receive will likely lead to more compensation in the future.
Learn more here: Whiplash Injury Claim Tips
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
We wish you the best with your claim,
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