How much pain and suffering should I ask for in a car accident? 28 Answers as of August 21, 2012

I was in an auto accident caused by an uninsured underage driver who was driving a vehicle whose owner did not have insurance. My vehicle was totaled, and I was injured by the seatbelt hitting me hard in the sternum. My neck was also sore afterward. My insurance, Progressive, has been very good, paying all med. bills and being nice. But med bills maxed out the portion of my insurance that pays for injury, $10,000. My local attorney thinks I can handle this myself, as I may get more in the long run if they aren't involved. I did not involve them initially. But now it's time for me to ask for a settlement for pain and suffering, from the uninsured motorist part of my insurance. I don't know how much to ask for. Is there a table of some kind? After the accident, I could not sleep laying down for a month. My sternum was very painful. I got several kinds of medical care, finally doing treatment with a chiropractor, and healed. It took 9 months.

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Law Office of Melvin Franke | Melvin Franke
Ask for the policy limits.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 8/21/2012
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
Something does not add up here: A local attorney says you can handle this yourself and you would get more if they aren't involved. That doesn't make any sense to me, but all I have to go on is a 3-paragraph post. Assessment of an appropriate settlement requires detailed analysis of liability and damages, including application of legal principles, evidenciary factors, medical documentation, out of pocket expenses, calculation of future losses and experience in your jurisdiction as to likely range of prospective jury awards. To answer the question properly, one would need extensive examination of all the evidence, particularly the medical records. Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer in your area. That is the best way to get the best settlement in your case. Since you already have an attorney contact, maybe you should offer to pay them a few hundred dollars to advise you as to how much you should demand from Progressive.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/21/2012
Law Office of Ronald G. Draper | Ronald G. Draper
Well, I think you should have consulted and understood all aspects of a claim settlement without a lawyer. Pain and suffering with all other damages should have been presented initially in your claim. Not knowing where you are now in the claim process makes it difficult to advise. You should consult with a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 8/21/2012
Frank Law Group, P.C.
Frank Law Group, P.C. | Brett E. Rosenthal
There are so many factors which impact what would be a reasonable amount for pain and suffering, which include the duration of your symptoms, whether your symptoms have resolved and you have attained pre accident status, amount of your medical bills, impact on your life, ie. affect on activities of daily living, affect on recreational activities. In my experience the carrier will not pay anywhere near reasonable compensation if you represent yourself, contrary to prior advice. The question that ultimately you, the carrier and jurors, if you got to that point, would have to answer is what is your pain and suffering worth. That is normally dependent on how well you are able to describe and explain how the injuries impacted your life and how sympathetic and likable you are perceived by a jury.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/21/2012
The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
It is hard to determine what a case is worth based on minimal information. In New York, your insurance company pays your medical bills and you must show you sustained a serious injury based upon the New York State Insurance Law, i.e threshold. If you cannot sustain said level of injury you may not recover. If you can show you surpassed the threshold, in your evaluation one must consider, permanency, was there any fractures, or diagnostic test taken, loss time from work or school, etc. include amount of medical bills, time confined to bed and home, disability etc.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 8/21/2012
    Downriver Injury and Auto Law | Michael Heilmann
    It is virtually impossible to get full value from an insurance carrier. They have adjusters specially trained to minimize payments. An attorney will get a maximum recovery and pay for himself. You wouldn't do surgery on yourself, would you? Factors such as medical bills, lost wages are only one aspect of the recovery.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    You had a bruised sternum and a sore neck and spent 10000 in medical care?That doesn't sound right. Did a chiropractor over bill you or something? The insurance company will get a credit on whatever it paid for your medical care There is no table or standard. Ask the carrier for twice or three times your proper medical bills and take what you can get.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    You should at least seek legal advice from your local attorney regarding your medical expenses as well as your pain and suffering. Medical documentation should be provided to your insurance company to substantiate your injuries. You should be aware that your premium can be raised if the payment for the claim is against your insurance policy only if that the other party was uninsured and the terms of your policy determines your monetary relief.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    In order to sue (collect on SUM coverage) for being injured in a car accident you have to sustain a "serious injury" which includes death, dismemberment, a broken bone, loss of a fetus, significant disfigurement and certain other specific kinds of lesser injuries including being disabled for at least ninety of the first one hundred and eighty days following the accident. It doesn't sound like you even qualify.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Lapin Law Offices
    Lapin Law Offices | Jeffrey Lapin
    There is no magic formula to determine what a case is worth. Each case is different. A person is entitled to be "made whole" or "compensated" for injuries and damages sustained in a car accident. There are a number of factors that help determine what a case is worth, which include, but are not limited to: the nature and extent of the injury; whether an injury is temporary or permanent; lost wages; and pain and suffering. If an injury is permanent, you may be entitled to additional money for these in the future. When trying to determine values for "pain and suffering" the following, which are not the only items, are factors often used: how bad the pain was; how restricting either the injury or pain was on a person's life; what body parts were affected; and how long the pain lasted. Although you do provide information about many of the items I have listed, it is not enough for me to provide an estimate as to what your case might be worth. If you feel comfortable negotiating by yourself, you should always start out asking for me than you would accept. You need to give yourself room to negotiate. You should also determine what you think is fair amount. You need to feel satisfied with any settlement. If you do not feel comfortable or want additional information, you might consider talking to a personal injury attorney. Most offer a free initial consultation so you can learn, for free, more about your rights and options.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Conway Law Pllc.
    Conway Law Pllc. | B. L. Conway
    Don't sign anything. All Damages must be quantified. You have the right to recover for: Emotional Distress; Pain and Suffering; Scarring and Disfigurement; Medical Bills Even Though Paid by your Health Insurance; your Lost Wages and Lost Earning Capacity; and any other Consequential Damages.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    I dont know how your medical can be used up. In Michigan, medical is lifetime. Are you from Michigan?
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    Pain and suffering damages is awarded by a judge or jury at their discretion. There is no formula or table. Settlement amounts in car accident cases are often a function of the medical expenses, but there are many other factors ? how long did it take you to heal? how old are you? did you miss work? was your lifestyle altered in any way (e.g, could not exercise, swim, ride a bike, play tennis, dance, have sex, etc.)? How many treatments did you have to go to? how long would it take from departure to return to do a treatment? Did you break any bones or just have soft tissue injuries? Insurance companies look to car damage as an important factor. If the damage to your car is less than $1000, they more or less think you should have no injuries and will only offer peanuts to settle. But on the flip side, I had the extreme where the car damage was $800 for a bumper, but they ended up pay $135,000 because the accident reaggravated her prior spine injury. Consequently, because she was about to retire and wanted to get her own health insurance after retirement, no one would insure her because of the new aggravated injury. Thus, her damages were very high. So it is difficult to advise you without knowing all of the facts. If you want to do this on your own, you should sit down with a lawyer for an hour a map out a strategy. You might consider hiring an attorney on an hourly basis to assist with negotiations as the insurer will certainly take advantage of you because they want to low ball you, and you have no experience on how to combat their lowball tactics.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    The insurance company will be very nice to you but be assured their job is to save money. You will need an attorney for a proper valuation. Much more info is needed than you provided and it should have been worked up for the best resolution from the start of the case. Your attorney either wasn't experienced or had no interest in your case.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Gebler & Weiss, P.C. | Jerrie S. Weiss
    I don't know how much your uninsured coverage is, but if it is the usual, $15,000 or so, I would ask for the maximum and then you have room to bargin.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    Pain and suffering is based on the severity and duration of your injuries. Hard to speculate without reviewing your medical record.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    There isn't a table. Insurance companies have computer programs to tell them how little they can get away with paying. An experienced plaintiff's attorney has an idea about how much you can expect depending on all the circumstances of your unique situation. The devil is in the details.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    There is no table or rule of thumb. If there is no permanent impairment if you could get an additional 5,000 to 20,000 above your medical bills, you would be doing good. It actually comes down to what is the cost to replace what you have lost, including your suffering. Suffering can be subjective and difficult to put a value on.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    How much your case is worth depends on numerous factors. Just as examples: 1) how much coverage is available (the lower the limits, the greater the chance that you could recover beyond limits at a trial, giving the insurance company reason to pay more than the fair value to avoid an excess verdict); 2) whether juries in your venue are considered plaintiff friendly (Los Angeles) or defense friendly (conservative small town USA), because cases that may be filed in plaintiff friendly jurisdictions are worth more in an insurance company's eyes; 3) the extent of your likely future treatment needs; 4) the effect of your injuries on your employment, past and future; 5) whether there may be other sources of compensation that you don't yet know about; 6) and many other factors. My experience is that people get a lot less (even after fees) when they try to handle these situations themselves, though there certainly are exceptions. If you are convinced there is no other money available and you can convince your insurance company to pay policy limits, you're probably better off without hiring a lawyer. Otherwise, think about getting some help from someone who can help you navigate all of these issues.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Wherever you start, the carrier will start lower. Since it is extremely difficult to go up, why not start with policy limits? There are no tables used by PI attorneys.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Paris Blank LLP
    Paris Blank LLP | Irving M Blank
    Your local attorney must not be a personal injury lawyer. You need an experienced person injury lawyer if you want a fair settlement offer and certainly if you have to file suit and go to court.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C.
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. | Stuart M. Nachbar
    Have your atty advise you, but as all soft tissue, I would not go above 7500.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Timiney Law Firm
    Timiney Law Firm | Leigh Anne Timiney
    I am sorry to hear about your accident. It is very difficult to determine how much would be a reasonable settlement for the pain and suffering portion of your claim without knowing many specific facts of your case and without at least reviewing your medical records and general correspondence with Progressive. Generally you are entitled to reimbursement for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering among other things, depending upon your injury. I am not sure if the attorney you spoke with earlier who told you to handle this on your own is a personal injury attorney. I would suggest that you consult with a personal injury attorney and get some guidance. In addition to negotiating a settlement, once you receive a settlement you may have some legal obligations with respect to repayment which you might not be aware of. I would strongly suggest you at least consult with an attorney before proceeding on your own.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    How much is your SUM coverage? You will need to prove you suffered "serious injury" as that term is defined by the Insurance Law. You have a tough claim but if you have 9 months of chiro treatment it probably has some value. You may have read about the lengths Progressive just went to pay under its SUM policy in a death case. They got a lot of bad press.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    James M. Osak, P.C.
    James M. Osak, P.C. | James M. Osak
    Seek out a second opinion with an experienced car-accident attorney. Ask the prospective attorney his/her experience. How many cases have they successfully handled?
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/21/2012
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C.
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C. | Steven Fairlie
    I think you should consult another lawyer. I have never seen a pro se individual get close to what an attorney would get unless they were offered the policy limits up front, which I'm guessing is not likely in your case. Putting a value on a case is an art, not a science. There are no tables that can take into account all the factors of the case, and if you are anything like me, if you wanted a nice self-portrait you would not try to paint it yourself - you would hire an artist.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 8/21/2012
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