Bellevue, WA | September 18, 2012 3:18pm
I was hit January 10th, 2012 while sitting at a stop light. The lady who hit me was going 35, looking into her lap (she confesed this to the cops on the scene) and did not hit her breaks. Cops were called, report was taken, and I went to the ER right after. I was diagnosed with whiplash and a sprained back. I have been in physical therapy since then. 2 times a week for the first 4 months and then once a week after that. My car has been fixed (they paid for it), and they paid for my rental. Lost wages are about $1000.00 and the total bill for PT and the hospital visit is around $7000.00. I am continuing to go to PT on a weekly basis. I was unable to do anything this summer due to back pain, ruined two vacations for me. Im not sure how much to ask for in regards to settling the claim.
Posted September 18, 2012 3:38pm
You should definitely speak with a lawyer as soon as you can. Most of us will speak with you for free and can tell you about the software systems used by insurance companies to determine what you're owed following an accident.
The settlement value of a claim is basically based on key words and codes related to the accident, your injuries, treatment type and length, medications, and attorney reputation, which the adjuster will enter into a computer like Colossus, or one of its analogs. These software systems are designed to give a settlement value range in a particular region.
Once all the relevant information is entered, the computer will provide a settlement range. The adjuster's goal is generally to pay no more than 80% of the low end of the range. This is why it's so important to have all the important information in the settlement demand (see below).
Here's generally how a case like yours should proceed.
Car Damage. The other driver's insurance company will ask you to take your car to one of their preferred repair shops, or they might send someone to look at your car and estimate damages. You are absolutely free to take your car to any repair shop you like. The insurance company will tell you that your car will get repaired faster at one of their shops, but you should know that those shops often cut corners to save money for
the insurance company.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is provided through your insurance company. Unless you specifically waived PIP coverage, you have PIP coverage. PIP will pay for everything including your medical bills, landscaper, house cleaner, etc. If you're not sure, you should call your insurance company to inquire whether you have PIP.
Underinsured motorist. This is a policy you may, or may not, have with your own insurance company. This type of insurance covers you in case they drunk driver's police isn't sufficient to pay all your damages.
Personal Injuries. You are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of wage, and other damages. You probably shouldn't settle yet as you don't yet know how long you are going to hurt. Fortunately, you have three years from the date of the accident to treat for your injuries and get well. When you've healed as much as you're going to, you will be ready to settle your case with the insurance company.
Settlement. The settlement process usually begins with a settlement demand. This is a multi page letter to the insurance carrier that describes who you are, what sorts of things you did before the accident, what happened in the accident, your medical diagnosis, and how the accident affected you. The final part of the demand is the amount of money requested to compensate you for all that you suffered.
Attorney fees. Most attorneys, our office included, front all of your expenses and don't charge you to take the case. We call this a contingent fee agreement. This means that we don't get paid unless/until you do. At settlement, most attorneys are then compensated 1/3 of the settlement amount paid by the insurance company.
Represented or Not? A number of studies have shown that injured persons receive much better settlements when they are represented by skilled attorneys. The average accident victims walks away with more money in her pocket if she uses an attorney than if she doesn't. You should definitely hire an attorney.
Crime Victim Penalty Fund. In addition to insurance proceeds, you may also be entitled to money because you are a victim of a crime. Depending on how badly you are hurt, they drunk driver may be looking at even more serious charges. If so, you are entitled to compensation as a crime victim.
Personal Injury (PI) Attorney. Your PI attorney will handle just about everything but treatment. We take care of getting your medical records, negotiating with creditors, if any, communicating with the insurance companies and preparing the demand letter. All you have to worry about is getting better.