What is fair compensation for my injury? 28 Answers as of May 16, 2013

I sustained a medial patella dislocation in an auto accident in which I was a passenger. The other driver's insurance has claimed responsibility. They are now pressuring me to settle even though I am still undergoing physical therapy and am being told I am nowhere near completion and quite possibly looking at another 12 months of therapy. My orthopedic surgeon is yet to release me to return back to normal duties at work. I am a federal employee so am currently working light duty. I have missed on pay raise as a result of this injury due to time missed from work. What is fair compensation and should I even think about settling now?

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William Rawlings & Associates | William Rawlings
You should absolutely NOT settle prior to been released from your treating doctor. You are entitled to recover all of your medical expenses, time off work and general pain and suffering as a result of this accident. It is too early to determine at this time what your case is worth based on the facts you presented. We are often contacted by clients who are being pressured to settle by the Insurance company and they ask us to handle all the details, making sure all of their medical bills are paid and that they are fully compensated. Obviously, the Insurance Company does not have your best interest at heart. This is what keeps us in business. If the Insurance Companies treated people fairly you wouldn't need a Personal Injury Lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 5/16/2013
Loren Lambert
Loren Lambert | Loren Lambert
Not enough information to answer your question. However, contrary to popular belief, usually persons that are represented obtain greater damages for their injuries even after paying attorneys fees.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 5/15/2013
David F. Stoddard
David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
You should not think about settling until you reach maximum medical improvement. You need to determine what insurance coverage is available. You need to find out from your insurer if you have underinsured coverage and how much. This will cover any damages that exceed the other driver's insurance coverage. Google SC Code of laws and look up Section 38-77-250 (it will be in title 38, chapter 77). Follow its procedures for requesting the policy limits from the insurer. You will need a copy of our wreck report. Forms for requesting a wreck report are available on the SC DMV or SC Public Safety website. Below are some things to consider in evaluating damages: I am often asked by individuals who have been injured in an accident to give an opinion as to what would be a fair settlement in their case. Often, they give me a brief description of their injury, such as, I suffered two broken ribs, or I am now suffering back pain, or I hurt my leg and had to have surgery and give no further details. I cannot possibly give an opinion as to the value of their case without more information. I find myself repeating over and over some of the information set out below. The information below is an attempt to shed some light on what an accident injury victim should consider in determining a fair settlement. However, presenting damages to an insurance adjuster, and ultimately to a jury, is an advanced and complicated task. It not adequate to simply say I'm hurt, describe your injury, and then hold out your hand and ask for money. I have practiced law since 1985, and still attend seminars and read books on the subject of presenting personal injury damage claims to juries. The information below will not be enough to make you a personal injury attorney, but hopefully will enlighten you regarding some factors that should be considered on evaluating your claim. Maximum Medical Improvment First, one needs to understand the concept of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which the condition of an injured person is stabilized. No further recovery or improvement is expected even with additional medical intervention. Basically, a condition is at maximum medical improvement if it is not believed that the condition will change or progress. In laymen's terms, this is often referred to a being released by the doctor. This term is most often used in the context of a worker s compensation claim. An inquired employee usually receives temporary benefits until reaching maximum medical improvement. However, it also has significance in general personal injury cases. Insurers for at fault drivers, manufacturers of unsafe products, owners and operators of unsafe premises, and doctors guilty of malpractice do not normally make incremental payments as medical bills and lost wages are incurred. Rather, these insurers normally settle claims with one payments, which represents the final settlement. For this reason, the accident victim must have evidence of all past and future damages to present to the adjuster. This means it is premature to begin evaluating your claim before you reach MMI because you do not yet know how much your medical bills will be, nor do you know how severe the injury will ultimately be - which is the main factor in damages for pain and suffering until after you have reached MMI. After you have reached MMI, four basic factors that should be considered in evaluating your case are 1) special damages, also known as tangible damages, 2) severity of the injury, 3) duration of the injury, and 4) insurance coverage. Special Damages Special damages which are also sometimes called tangible damages include the cost of medical treatment (medical bills) and lost wages. Special damages are somewhat objective and easily ascertainable. You simply add up your medical bills and determine what wages you would have earned had you not been out of work due to your injury. The insurance adjuster or opposing attorney may quibble over some of your numbers, claiming that you have been overcharged by your doctor, or that some medical procedures that you are including in damages were not caused by the accident. The adjuster or opposing attorney may argue that you missed more work than was required based on your injury. Nonetheless, both sides can at least agree that you were actually billed x number of dollars by medical provides, and that you would have earned x dollars had you been at work. A personal injury settlement demand should begin with the amount of special damages, that is, medical bills and lost wages. Intangible Damages Intangible damages are often the most important component of your damages case. Intangible damages include such things as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life. Two important factors influence a fair settlement: the severity of your injury, and the duration of your injury. Severity of the Injury By severity of the injury, I am talking about the degree of pain and discomfort you suffer, along with how the injury affects your life and ability to engage in activities. On one end, you have relatively minor injuries that result in moderate pain and do not significantly interfere with your ability to do things. On the other end, you have injuries that result in severe pain and significantly interfere with your ability to engage in activities. An injury that is moderate in pain and its affect on your life would indicate a settlement on the low end of the range of fair settlements. An injury that results in a great deal of pain and significantly interferes with your ability to do things would indicate a settlement at the high end of the range of settlements. The low end might be in the thousands of dollars whereas the high end might be in the tens of thousands of dollars (at this point, I am only talking about severity of the injury, not the duration). Duration of the Injury Temporary vs. Permanent Injuries The next factor you must consider is the duration of your injury. Some injuries are temporary, others are permanent. Many injuries completely heal and resolve within months or a year. Some injuries are permanent and you still experience pain and some interference with your daily activities after you have reached MMI and have been released by a doctor. Temporary injuries might indicate a settlement on the low end of the range of settlements, whereas permanent injuries would indicate a fair settlement on the high end. An temporary injury that is severe in pain and interference with daily activities might indicate a settlement in the middle between the low and high range of settlements. An permanent injury that is moderate in pain and interference with daily activities might also indicate a settlement in the medium range. However, an injury that is severe in pain and its effect on daily activities and is also permanent would indicate a settlement in the high range. I have been mentioning low range and high range settlements. When it comes to intangible damages, what is fair is a grey area, and there is a great deal room to argue up or down. When I speak of ranges, an attorney or insurance adjuster might say a particular injury has a settlement value of between $25,000 and $75,000 based on the factors I have discussed above. Temporary injuries that are moderate might indicate a settlement for intangible damages in the thousands of dollars, that is, less than $10,000.00. Temporary Injuries that are severe, or permanent injuries that are not severe, may indicate a settlement in the medium range, which could be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Injuries that are both severe and permanent could indicate a fair settlement in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and even exceeding a million dollars. Million-dollar settlements are somewhat rare.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 5/15/2013
End, Hierseman & Crain, LLC | J. Michael End
You should not consider trying to settle your claim until you know how things are going to turn out. Your concerns are well-founded. You might want to hire a lawyer to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
Replied: 5/15/2013
Gregory M Janks, PC
Gregory M Janks, PC | Gregory M Janks
As I've answered numerous times in this forum, there is no formula or set amount for any particular injury. Each case depends on it's individual facts. You need counsel that regularly handles these matters to give you a possible range of settlement. Further, you can not be forced to settle a case at any time or in any amount. You have 3 years from the date of the accident within which to sue the at fault parties or your case will be barred by the Michigan tort statute of limitations. Your own insurer should pay your wage loss, medical expenses and replacement services. The at fault parties insurer pays your pain and suffering claim if you can prove liability and threshold damages per the Michigan No Fault Law.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/15/2013
    Kevin H Pate
    Kevin H Pate | Kevin H Pate
    No, you should not consider settling. Engage an attorney and end the calls. Once you have counsel, the insurance company deals with counsel, not you, and the pressure eases up considerably. You can then focus on recovery and getting better and your life.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, PC | Jeffrey Friedman
    The amount of compensation depends on many factors and is something that an experienced attorney can discuss with you. You may contact me directly for a free consultation if you would like.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C.
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C. | Jim Hasser
    You can't settle until the Dr. cuts you loose from regular treatment and he can predict your need for future treatment and determine the extent of any permanent disability you may have. Consult an accident lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
    The amount of compensation for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life one receives in a personal injury case varies, depending on a number of factors such as the amount of present and future medical bills, loss of income scarring , disfigurement and the duration of the injuries in question. It also depends on place where the trial might take place if the case has to go to court since some jurisdictions are more conservative than others. It could likewise depend on whether the defendant has sufficient insurance to cover the amount of damages. For example you could have damages that could be expected to amount to $100,000.00, but if the defendant has only $20,000.00 coverage you might not be able to collect more than that. In that case, if you have under insured motorist's protection you might have to make a claim on your policy. It appears that you don't have a lot of solid numbers yet and that in trying to settle your case on your own you might short yourself. I would recommend that you retain the services of an attorney to represent you in this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Gini Lynn Jenkins Attorney, LLC of counsel with Kelly & Kelly, LLP
    Gini Lynn Jenkins Attorney, LLC of counsel with Kelly & Kelly, LLP | Gini Lynn Jenkins
    I would not recommend settling at this time but need more information such as: when did the wreck occur? What are the policy limits of the person at fault? Is the at fault party's insurance company offering you the full limits? What are your medical expenses at this time? Do you have health insurance? Is there available uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    HYP LAW GROUP | HAMED YAZDANPANAH
    We have routinely settled these cases for well over $100,000.00. You should NOT even consider a settlement without making sure what the adverse party's policy limits are, something that they have no obligations to disclose to you. However there are ways that we can obtain that information expeditiously.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Law Offices of Alexander E. Gilburg
    Law Offices of Alexander E. Gilburg | Alexander E. Gilburg
    The best thing you could do is to evaluate your case with a competent attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
    Watch out for the Statute of Limitations. If you do not file suit within the allowed time, the insurance company will escape any liability. On the other hand, you need detailed reports from your treating doctors laying out what is your prognosis. Do yourself a favor and hire a competent lawyer. Then, you don't have to worry about it.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Lydy & Moan | C. Gary Wilson
    If in Ohio, you have up to two years to file suit or you may never bring the claim. Not enough information to determine fair compensation, which hinges upon amount of the medical bills, prognosis, lost wages, etc. Probably should not settle until you have a clearer picture, but be sure to file suit before the two years are up to preserve your claim.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Hone Law Firm
    Hone Law Firm | John S. Hone
    I would not settle early, since you are a federal employee and probably receiving short term disability, or comp, so no rush to pay the immediate bills. Would need more facts to counsel on fair settlement.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You should not settle until all of your medical treatments are concluded. If you settle before hand, any future medical payment will be your responsibility.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Jules D'Alessandro | Jules D'Alessandro
    This is why you should have hired a lawyer. We do not even begin to speak with the insurance company until the treatment is completed and we know the full extent of the injury. If the treatment get close to 3 years, the statute of limitations then we file suit. Under no circumstances would we ever discuss settlement unless and until we know exactly what the injury is, and whether there will be any permanent impairment.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC
    Curry, Roby & Mulvey Co., LLC | Bruce A. Curry
    If you are still treating and don't know the full extent of your damages/injuries, then it's probably too early to think about settlement. Be mindful, however, that you would need to file suit within two years of the date of your accident, so you cannot wait too long. Generally speaking, you would be entitled to recover your past and future medical bills + lost wages + a reasonable amount or pain and suffering.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    Don't let the statute of limitation (3 years) slip up on you but don't settle any injury case til you are well or as well as you are ever going to get, until you are released by the dr, and until you know whether you will need future medical care if you don't have a lawyer get one. Don't let an insurance company bully you or press you. tell them to stuff it if they press. But don't let your time run.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 5/15/2013
    GINSBURG & MORGAN | Jacqueline Morgan, Esquire
    It is not only too soon to determine the value of your claim, but there are likely other damages that you may be entitled to, depending on the circumstances peculiar to your injury and claim, which should be pursued. In any event, unless your have proper representation, you will never receive all that you are entitled to. The insurance company will definitely take advantage of your ignorance in this regard and the fact that you do not have an attorney (assuming you don't). Furthermore, each time you speak to the insurance company directly, you are likely compromising your rights and the value of your claim. One of the main reasons you should have an attorney is because anything you say is considered an admission and can and will be used against you. In order to avoid compromising any of your rights and preserving your ability to maximize your recovery, you should immediately retain an attorney who specializes in auto claims.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    Koning & Jilek, P.C.
    Koning & Jilek, P.C. | Jonathan Neal Jilek
    It depends.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    I would have no idea what your case is worth without knowing the medical bills, lost wages, etc., but you shouldn't consider settling the case until your doctor puts you at MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) and you know you're not going to be getting any better, or hopefully, any worse.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    David P. Slater, esq.
    David P. Slater, esq. | David P. Slater
    Ask your lawyer. If you do not have one, get one.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    Kram & Wooster, P.S. | Richard H. Wooster
    You should not think about settling until you have reached maximum medical improvement. You are asking some of the right questions. You really should hire an attorney experienced in personal injury matters. The insurance company is pressuring you to settle now while you are optimistic about your recovery. An experienced attorney knows when to settle and how best to present your claim for your maximum recovery.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    Lawrence Kahn Law Group, P.S.
    Lawrence Kahn Law Group, P.S. | Lawrence Kahn
    Do not settle until you are 100% better or as far as possible if you have a permanent injury. The Statute of Limitations in WA is 3 years so you have up until that time to negotiate then a complaint (lawsuit) must be filed in court. You would be wise to hire an attorney who will likely double or better your settlement without one. Insurance companies try to take advantage of those injured without attorneys.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    Lewis B. Kaplan | Lewis B. Kaplan
    Settle now? You must be kidding! What state is accident location? Pay close attention to statute of limitations in that state or you might wind up with ZERO! In Illinois we have a statute that allows you to find out liability limits of at fault driver's policy before suit is filed. Doing that here is mandatory. What are your own underinsured motorist bodily injury limits? That may be important also if other driver's liability limit is low. Maybe by now you are getting the correct idea that you need to hire a lawyer to get fair compensation for a serious injury. I handle Illinois cases of this nature. Contact me for details.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C.
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. | Stuart M. Nachbar
    Make sure that your attorney knows about this and get his/her recommendation.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 5/14/2013
    J. Norman Stark, Attorney & Reg. Architect | J. NORMAN STARK, ATTORNEY
    Ask your attorney!
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 5/14/2013
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