What is a reasonable compensation for pain and suffering in a car accident? 41 Answers as of February 17, 2012

My husband was involved in a car wreck over a month ago. The other driver was at fault and his insurance has accepted 100% liability. Unfortunately the other driver died in the crash. My husband was treated and released at the nearest ER with a fractured left hand, bruises to his chest and ribs and several lacerations. He still has flashbacks and nightmares seeing the other driver crash into him head-on and then slumped lifeless over the steering wheel. He slept almost 5 weeks in a chair because of the bruised ribs. He has 2 more weeks to wear a cast on his left hand which hinders him greatly due to being left handed. He now gets very tense when meeting other drivers on the road. This has been very emotionally and physically painful. In addition to the property loss (about $3200), lost wages (about $1000) and medical bills ($5000), how much is reasonable for pain and suffering? I know there's no exact formula but I would like a ball park idea of what is fair and reasonable. I am not wanting to get the most I can from it, just want to know what's reasonable when the injuries are minor but the side effects have been large.

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Law Office of William L Spern | William Spern
A rule of thumb for PI cases is 3 times the specials (i.e., wage loss, medical bills, rehab costs or any other economic loss except property damage). Here, settlement of 20k to 25k would be appropriate.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/12/2011
Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
There is no way to answer this question in simple terms. I know what you want and there isn't any way to put a set dollar amount on such a claim. It takes a better understanding of the facts and your husband's condition. Perhaps he needs psychological counseling for post traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD) This isn't so easy as saying it's worth $X.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 12/7/2011
Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC
Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC | Sam L. Levine
There are many factors that play in to how much a case is worth. In the case where one or more of the injured parties fractured a bone as in your husband's case, I would highly recommend that you consult with an attorney. The odds of the insurance co. offering to pay what is fair and reasonable without an attorney is slim & none. I would advise contacting an attorney to discuss your husband's itemized damages. Please feel free to contact me if you wish. I would be happy to discuss the case at no charge. I hope your husband feels better.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 12/6/2011
Touchstone Law Firm, LLC
Touchstone Law Firm, LLC | Dmitry David Balannik
It very much depends on an insurance company (some are more generous than others) and several other factors (jurisdiction, attorney, medical report, etc.).
Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
Replied: 12/6/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Might be interesting to know why other driver hit your husband. Not so sure that this is "minor". The trauma -sleepless nights/nightmares-sounds relatively significant. If husband has not seen a psychologist/psychiatrist, he should. See a PI attorney for at least a consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/5/2011
    Gilbert & Bourke, LLP | Brian J. Bourke
    Your husband's case has a high value and you should consult with an attorney to make sure you receive a fair offer. It could be you may recover less than full value if the other driver's insurance policy limits are low and in California many people carry the minimum level of $15,000.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/3/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    Three times medicals plus wages would be reasonable b ut that does not mean they will pay a reasonable sum. You need to make sure you have all your damages covered. If you have emotional issues see a psychologist.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 12/3/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    There are too many other variables to put a precise figure. These include, what kind of witness will he make in court, will your medical doctor testify favorably for you, are you in a jurisdiction tends to give low verdicts (Republican Jurisdictions), how much insurance coverage is there, and on and on. Probably as little as $25,000.00 and as much as $125,000. 00. The emotional trauma may be the most significant injury. However, if he does not seek help for this from a psychiatrist or therapist, it will be difficult to convince an adjuster or jury that this is a significant injury.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    If he has some nightmares, that would be normal. If they don't subside he should tell his doctor and maybe talk with a counselor. It must be documented or it doesn't mean anything to the insurer. A month is not enough time to pass for evaluation of damages.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    It would be hard to estimate the ball park settlement of any matter without a full understanding of the medicals, the amount of disability and treatment and the medical cost for recovery. It must be determined what is permanent and what is considered soft tissue injuries.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Hire a lawyer. Time is on your side and it may be too early to evaluate the value until we see the full extent of your husband's recovery.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
    I am going to strongly suggest that you contact an experienced personal injury law firm immediately regarding this matter. In my over 20 years of practice, I have seen countless times insurance companies take advantage of injured parties who do not have proper representation. Clearly, this was a serious accident and I don't consider your husband's injuries minor - as you stated, it is not just the physical injury, but the mental injuries as well. Your husband's case is worth thousands of dollars, but I would be unable to tell you more without asking more in-depth questions. When will your husband's treatment end? He will undoubtedly need physical therapy. Does he need to see a mental health specialist? Are there any permanent effects to the injury? These are all questions that MUST be answered before a value can be placed on this matter. If any other lawyer tells you otherwise, he or she is not handling this properly. There are things that can be done now that can help maximize the compensation your husband will ultimately receive.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Can't comment without seeing pictures of the scarring....have you asked yet what the bodily injury policy limits are on the defendant's car? Florida law requires them to give that to you. If they are $25k or under (typically the only policy limit under $25k is $10k) then ask for the policy limits.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    The Law Offices of Paul A. Samakow, P.C.
    The Law Offices of Paul A. Samakow, P.C. | Paul A. Samakow
    Your husband's claim is considerable. I cannot give you a response as to what is "reasonable" without fully evaluating his claim. I can assure you that you will do much better hiring an attorney. Even after the attorney's fee is deducted, your husband will end up with more than if you try to negotiate with the insurance yourself. This is because the insurer has no reason to be fair with you; you cannot file a lawsuit. An attorney can threaten going to court, and then, the offer magically becomes better.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    Assessment of an appropriate settlement requires detailed analysis of liability and damages, including application of legal principles, evidenciary factors, medical documentation and experience in your jurisdiction as to likely range of prospective jury awards. If anyone tells you they could evaluate your situation just by reading a paragraph on a website (although you do give good information) they would be doing you a disservice. To do this properly, you need an experienced lawyer in your area who will sit down with you, interview you and your husband extensively, review the accident report and any other relavant investigatory information and analyze ALL of the medical records in detail. If he/she spends less than two uninterrupted hours doing this, they are "shooting from the hip" or using a "cookie-cutter approach" for which I have no respect.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers
    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers | Andrew D. Myers
    When we reach out for help there is usually a reason. The furnace is making noises and the average person is not going to attempt to fix it. The car isn't working and it needs a trip to the shop. Those jobs require expertise. In the context of legal matters, sometimes it appears like it is just a pile of paper. However, just because it is not so obvious, there are many reasons why a personal injury claim requires expertise from an experienced personal injury attorney. Here are a few: (1) The insurance industry's own statistics confirm that once an attorney is brought in to a claim, the value goes up. (2) Your own attorney has a duty to fully inform you of all potential elements of recovery which the insurance company claims adjuster will not take time to tell you about. (3) Settlements are forever. This means that if you decide to accept a settlement, this is the final disposition of the case forever. Should you later need additional treatment or discover an outstanding charge you did not know about, it is too late to go back. My office handles personal injury and accident cases in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. And despite the procedural and legal differences between our states, the insurance standards and case valuation aspects of this topic are relatively universal across the U.S.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Buff & Chronister, LLC.
    Buff & Chronister, LLC. | Curtis L. Chronister Jr.
    It sounds as though your husband could recover a substantial sum for his accident related injuries. The at fault driver's insurance company may pay out the policy limits once they look at the medical bills, records and other supporting documents, particularly if the policy limit is $100,000.00 or less. The tricky part of your husband's case is that the at fault driver died from the collision and any lawsuit would have to be against his estate. Though he was at fault, this part of the case needs to be handled with care by a skillful trial lawyer. If the case were to be tried in front of a jury, the jury could be more sympathetic to the at fault deceased driver and his family than to your husband. For this reason, you should hire good counsel experienced in personal injury litigation who can skillfully present the case to a jury in the event that a settlement cannot be reached. A settlement would be best in this situation, however and hopefully, all parties would work toward this end. These personal injury cases are handled on a contingency and your husband will only pay a fee if there is a recovery. Go see a small firm or solo practitioner with a good reputation. Stay away from the mill firm ambulance chasers you see on television. They don't have a clue how to handle this case.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Tenge Law Firm, LLC
    Tenge Law Firm, LLC | J. Todd Tenge
    Your husband is entitled to damages for wage loss, property damage, medical expenses (past AND FUTURE), pain and suffering and any permanent impairment or injury. You will need an experienced, qualified attorney to make sure he is FULLY compensated. I would strongly encourage your husband to consult with an injury attorney. Most injury attorneys will provide an initial consultation for free. But perhaps most importantly, given the nature of the crash, the death of the other driver, and the injuries (including psychological/emotional) experienced by your husband, I would not recommend he even consider settling his claims at this point. It is way too soon. The statute of limitations in Colorado is 3 years. Not that you should wait that long, but you really need to "let the dust settle" and make absolutely sure you are aware of ALL of your husband's injuries, damages and losses before even attempting a settlement.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    I'm sad to learn of your misfortune. You're right, there isn't any formula. Translating the injuries to a person's life into dollars and cents is more of an art than a science. They say the Mona Lisa painting may be worth $700 million, but if your husband and the Mona Lisa were in a burning building, which one would you save.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Garruto & Calabria, LLC
    Garruto & Calabria, LLC | Andrew F. Garruto
    It's way too early to determine the value of this case. Your husband has a lot going on and will treatment for a while. You'll have a better idea of what the value is when treatment has concluded. I'm sure he's being seeing an orthopedist, but I hope he's seeing a therapist for his post traumatic stress disorder.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry
    Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry | Ronald Arthur Lowry
    The injuries you described are not minor. The hand will get worse as your husband ages as arthritis sets in and it is his dominant hand. The nightmares over seeing the other driver die, commonly referred to as PTSD,is a real injury and can last for a long time, sometimes permanently. You need an attorney who is an expert in personal injury cases and you need that lawyer now. It is impossible to accurately assess the value of the pain and suffering element of this claim alone from the short description given but in a case of clear liability it probably would be many thousands of dollars and the value of the entire claim will dramatically increase if you get the right attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/2/2011
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC | Robert Morrison Lucky
    So sorry to hear about your husband's accident. Firstly, although it may seem as though your husband's injuries are minor compared to others' involved, a broken bone is actually a pretty severe injury. A broken bone will often require additional therapy and/or surgical intervention. As far as the value of the case, it is impossible for me to give you any numbers at this stage in the game. In fact, it is quite early to even consider settling your husband's case considering his injuries. Your husband really should seriously consider hiring an attorney to handle this matter. You definitely do not want the insurance company to use your lack of familiarity with the process against you. Unfortunately, the system is set up to be more advantageous for those who have an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    You are correct that there is no exact formula for pain and suffering, and ultimately, the only opinion on that issue that would matter is a jury's opinion. In addition, you could put 10 different attorneys in a room and get 10 different opinions as to value. That all being said, given the facts you cite in your husband's case, a total settlement of $20,000 to $25,000 would be a reasonable settlement, in my humble opinion. (This settlement amount would include all elements of damages - lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, and pain & suffering.)
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/17/2012
    Tomalas Law Firm
    Tomalas Law Firm | Ryan Tomalas
    There is absolutely no way that we (or any other experienced personal injury lawyer) could properly answer this question without significantly more facts regarding the accident, past medical care, prospect of future medical care, any residual complaints that your husband still has (or will continue to have), any medical bills he has incurred, the type of work he does and the lost earnings he has suffered. The "pain and suffering" value of a personal injury claim is not simply a factor of the total medical bills (though medical bills are one part of the evaluation). Rather the value of any individual claim will vary based on the facts and circumstances (of the injury causing event and the extent of your injuries). We strongly suggest that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, as he/she will be able to evaluate all aspects of your claim and will likely be able to increase the value of your claim.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Downriver Injury and Auto Law | Michael Heilmann
    In order to get "reasonable" compensation from the other insurance carrier, you need to hire a lawyer to file suit. The fact that the other driver is dead is of no consequence, he had insurance and they will cover his negligence. Insurance companies are in the MONEY business, not the sympathy business. If you wait for them to be reasonable, you will be waiting a very long time. You must file a PIP application with your own insurance company in order to get 85% of your lost wages. The other driver is NOT responsible for wage loss in Michigan.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Your husband fractured his wrist and has other injuries. Those are not minor injuries, and if it happened to you, I think you'd agree. Your husband should contact an attorney for a thorough analysis of his case.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    The value of an injury is very fact specific. Exactly which bones in his hand were broken, how well will he recover normal use and function, will he seek counseling, etc. Since he did sustain a fracture, it probably pays to hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Office of Dean B. Gordon
    Law Office of Dean B. Gordon | Dean B. Gordon
    Although you provided a lot of details, it is impossible to determine an accurate estimate of the value of the case without considering other factors, including but not limited to, the city or county in which the accident happened, the amount of health and liability insurance coverage, the "likeability" of the parties, etc.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Craig Kelley & Faultless
    Craig Kelley & Faultless | David W. Craig
    I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of your husband's injuries as "minor". First of all you should not be thinking about settlement since your husband is not back to normal. If he is left handed and suffered an injury to his left hand it is important that you do not attempt to settle until he knows if he is going to make a full recovery or not. I have seen people who have no long term issues from a fractured hand and others who have not been as fortunate. Fractured ribs are extremely painful. There is absolutely no way to get comfortable. As far as the psychological injuries it is too early to tell how he is going to recover from that as well. At this point your husband should be worried about getting better. I would recommend that you hire an experienced injury attorney. There is research that an attorney will get you more than what you can get on your own. That doesn't mean that he will get more than what he deserves. It simply means that this rights and interests will be protected. Just because an insurance company says that it is accepting full responsibility for an accident doesn't mean that it has any intentions to treat your family fairly. It very well may just be an attempt to keep you from hiring an attorney. You should be concerned about dead-lines some of which pass as early as 180 days after the wreck. The fact that the other driver died also means that tan estate has to be set up by you if the decedents family hasn't set one up. Not every family needs an estate to be set up because of the value of the estate. However if there is not one open and you do not open one within the time allowed by statute you could jeopardize his case. Injury attorneys do not get paid unless they get you money. You do not have to pay them as you go. They will often advance any expenses. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. Your husband's rights and claim should be protected.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Magnuson Lowell P.S.
    Magnuson Lowell P.S. | Richard S. Lowell
    I wouldn't consider the injuries minor. And besides; emotional side effects ARE part of the compensatiable injuries. You are in no position to evaluate - let alone settle - this claim. Your husband needs to make sure he has recovered from the physical injuries AND the emotional ones. I would expect the emotional injuries may take longer to 'heal' than the physical ones; but from what you've described, he may very well be suffering from PTSD. I strongly recommend he be seen by a counselor or psychologist ASAP. An experienced personal injury attorney to help with this situation may also be appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Shaw Law Firm
    Shaw Law Firm | Steven L. Shaw
    In order to get a qualified answer to your question, we would need a lot more information. I suggest meeting with an attorney in your area to get an adequate evaluation to your husband's claim.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
    Accepting liability is insurance company speak for "we were at fault for causing the wreck." It is not an agreement that anyone was injured, nor an agreement to pay anything. I have represented hundreds of clients when the insurance company said they accepted liability, but refused to pay fairly for the damages that liability caused. Value of a claim is governed by a multitude of factors. We set many of those out in a video on the topic at injury-law-news.com. In short, it is difficult if not impossible for a non lawyer to know the fair value of a claim without an attorney who has experience in what juries, and therefore claims adjusters, do with a case. You should contact an experienced trial attorney as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O.
    The Law Office of Eric R. Chandler, P.C., L.L.O. | Eric R. Chandler
    It really depends on the specific facts of your husband's situation. Everyone is different. To give an educated opinion. you would need to speak with an accident injury attorney who has spoken with your husband and reviewed his medical records, medical bills and any other relevant documents such as lost wages, etc. Google accident injury attorney in your city and give them a call.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    The fracture qualifies as serious injury as a matter of law, which you need in an auto case. I suggest you consult with an attorney who can ask all the appropriate questions to value the case. Has surgery been ruled out? How large in the other car's insurance policy? Insurance companies try to take advantage of people who don't have lawyers.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    T. Mack Taylor LLC | Mack Taylor
    As I have stated in other responses it is highly recommended to have an attorney represent you on an injury claim. We sometimes look at multiplyers based on the nature of the monetary damages. It also depends on the liability insurance policy and possibly other policies. These things are usually negotiated between the attorney and the claims adjuster. Without an attorney the insurance company knows you will likely not file suit and will be likely stubborn in their negotiations.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/1/2011
    Law Offices of Michael Stephenson
    Law Offices of Michael Stephenson | Michael Stephenson
    We settled an almost identical case last week for $100,850. The insurance company offered $20,000, which is probably what they will do in your case, but pressure needs to be applied until they go up. Feel free to call me if you need help. Most importantly, do not sign an papers until consulting with a lawyer; the insurance company will try to get you to sign away all your rights. You need to protect your rights in the event that months down the road you discover that your husband has more serious injuries than originally diagnosed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/1/2011
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