Visitor Question

What’s a fair settlement for my injuries and job loss?

Submitted By: Stephen (Washington DC)

On 9/27/14 I was riding my Vespa home from dinner and stopped at a red light in the District of Columbia. A man driving his girlfriend’s car made a left hand turn into oncoming traffic and hit me head on. My bike was totaled under his car and I flew head first into the intersection and caught myself with my hands.

I suffered moderate nerve damage in my hands as well as have tinnitus and moderate permanent low frequency hearing loss in both ears, in addition to being in bed for 16 weeks in a non-weight bearing cast for broken bones in my right foot.

My total medical bills and physical therapy are $27,000 and my total direct lost wages are $11,000. I ended up losing my job along with benefits due to the recovery and I am currently on Medicaid still awaiting a hearing for SSDI and SSI benefits.

The other driver’s insurance is Geico with a policy that maxes out at $100,000. They have offered me $57,500 which seems rather low considering the hell that I have been through. I had to withdraw every dollar of my IRA ($34,000) to survive and to pay for all the transportation expenses relating to my recovery. I still owe the taxes and 10% penalty for early withdrawal from my IRA, plus $5,000 to BCBS.

Could you give me a ballpark figure of what would be a fair out-of-court settlement for $27,000 in medical bills and $11,000 lost wages? The driver has admitted fault and there are witnesses. 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 Stephen,

If you are represented by an attorney it is important to take his or her advice. Your attorney will be much more familiar with the facts and the law in your area. Without access to the police report, witness statements, traffic citations, photos of the accident, and other relevant information, it is difficult to tell you if the settlement offer of $57,000 is appropriate

There are some cases which can be handled without an attorney. These involve “soft tissue” injuries like sprains and strains to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, minor abrasions, and burns, whiplash and the like. However, more serious “hard injuries” like fractures, 3rd degree burns, head trauma, and permanent hearing or vision loss should never be handled by a victim. There is just too much to lose in such these serious cases.

While you can negotiate without an attorney, when it comes down to it, the insurance company is going to offer you a certain amount and no more. You may have perceived leverage, but not real leverage.

While the claims adjuster may appear empathetic or attentive in deference to you, the adjuster holds all the cards. So while you may feel you are negotiating a good settlement, in fact you are negotiating in a vacuum.

In serious injury cases like yours, it is always appropriate to seek the advice and counsel of several experienced personal injury attorneys. A savvy injury attorney doesn’t care what a claims adjuster offers unless it is fair. A good attorney will fight to make sure the insurance company pays every penny deserved.

And remember about the “leverage” you don’t have. An attorney has the ultimate leverage. If your attorney doesn’t believe the negotiated offer is high enough, the attorney can file a lawsuit. That is something insurance companies do not like. Claims adjusters are there to settle claims, and not let them become lawsuits.

Every insurance company claims adjuster knows lawsuits cost money. Insurance companies have to retain expensive law firms to defend those lawsuits. The amount they may have to pay in legal fees often makes it worthwhile for them to settle the case at a much higher amount than originally offered.

Your best interests will be served by gathering your medical bills, police reports, photos, insurance company correspondence, etc., and make several appointments with personal injury attorneys in your area. Most injury attorneys will not charge for an initial office consultation.

After visiting with several you will have a much better idea of the strength of your claim, the approximate time it may take to conclude, and an approximate amount of settlement or court award.

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: October 19, 2017

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