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  1. #1
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    accident settlement help?

    hi all,

    recently, i was hit by a driver who failed to yield a traffic sign. she was turning right onto the road i was on. i had no traffic signs, and had right of way.

    her insurance is not faulting me at all. they have covered all of my property damage. we are now in the process of getting medical paid for, and other nontangibles (time off work, etc.). unfortunately, i will not recover that money until i settle. they are asking me to provide an amount for which i would like to settle.

    details:
    -there is a clause in their settlement that i can have them set aside $XXX aside for future medical problems. that number is filled in upon mutual agreement.
    -fortunately, i was not seriously hurt. i had an awesome watercolor-bruise on my knee and a great scrape on my palm. i have to have a dental piece reworked. no concussion, no broken bones.
    -my back is still sore, but mostly not painful. x-rays were taken, and nothing appears damaged, so there isnt really any need for a procedure or treatment.

    i know that no one here is able to give me a dollar amount based on my pain. but i have ~no~ idea of even a bracket where i could choose a number. while i dont want to take advantage of the insurance company, i dont want them to take advantage of me. so i sit here wondering, $500? $1000? $2500? $5000? are these too low? too high? would they laugh in my face? what the heck would an acceptable range be? of course, they arent in the business of giving me a number. they want me to provide it.

    thoughts? suggested ranges? i dont want to be pressured by them, and i am beginning to feel that pressure. i dont even know where to go to "do my homework" to look for previous, historical cases.

  2. #2
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    You have to find out what rights you have in your state.

    In NY state for instance if you are not in a serious accident (aka, you did not break anything, you are not permanently injured, and you are not dead), then you can only collect all physical losses (bike, clothing, helmet, etc), all medical expenses, and only 80% of lost wages. Personally I was quite happy NOT to qualify for serious accident status and had my medical bills sent directly to the insurance company. Within 2 weeks I had a check for $1000 to cover my losses and within month I had my lost wages (time stuck int he ER) paid for as well. You definitely need to find out what the limits are for your state so you can get what you rightly deserve.

    Happy riding,
    André

  3. #3
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    I am assuming that you are in the Litigation Happy States of America...

    I would like to remove the term "deserve" from any discussion like this.

    You do not deserve anything beyond your direct expenses. You are negotiating for what you are willing to accept to make yourself "whole." This is NOT your opportunity to get your share of the American dream.

    If the accident did nothing except what has been identified (missed work, bicycle repair/replacement, medical expenses etc) then just go for that, and ask for a significant amount in the potential future medical expenses ($100,000+). Be sure to list ALL of your direct losses, as this is completely fair.

    Being hit by a car wasn't finally getting lucky and hitting the lottery, it was an accident, and you should not look at this as a way to gain financially (in spite of the usual guidance you will receive here and elsewhere).

    In asking in this particular forum, you are likely to hear some very high numbers... the bottom line is it is your choice.

    However, in my opinion, there is no such thing as too small a number, unless it doesn't cover your expenses directly related to the accident. This isn't a kid's game of who got the bigger half of the sandwich. Does it really make you less of a person if someone in a similar situation got more money?

    Since I am potentially a premium payer in the insurance company you are dealing with, and my rates could go up based on the amount of money paid out (regardless of whether I am involved), I say I deserve my money, since I earned it... If you feel otherwise, I would like an explanation of why you deserve the money more than I do.

    Just one man's opinion.

    However, if you want the real answer to maximize your profits, you really should hire a lawyer, they will make sure that you get what you deserve, plus as much additional that the laws allow. They are easy to find, just look in the yellow pages, and you will find hundreds. Pick one randomly from the phone book.

  4. #4
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    thanks for your consideration, little darwin, and your logically thought out answer. i wouldnt necessarily say that i am trying to make a profit. i dont feel the need to max out whatever the insured drivers per-accident limit may be. were i trying to do this, yes, i would hire a lawyer. as i initially wrote, i am not trying to take advantage of the insurance.

    however, there was a decent amount of pain. for what it is worth, i have had both knee and back surgery. i have two steel rods fused in my spine. i wrote that i know that no one can tell me how much my pain is worth. i know that every situation is different.

    i suppose i am simply trying to either find resources to help me determine what would be a fair and acceptable range answer to the question they asked me. i am trying to do my homework.

  5. #5
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Your injuries are serious. Ask around for an honest and reasonable lawyer. In most locations they do exist. One of your physicians might be a good person to ask. Of far more importance that any pain money might be making sure you have a huge reserve for future medical issues.
    George
    Laissez les bon temps rouler

  6. #6
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Get a lawyer. If you settle it yourself you are practically guaranteed to get screwed.

  7. #7
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    Bob Mionske's book warns that your insurance policies might give the company subrogation rights, which means that your insurance company might be able to take your settlement money to make up for money they have paid on your claims.

  8. #8
    JRA. BikEthan's Avatar
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    Over the course of your life you'll pay how many thousands of dollars to various insurance companies, health, automobile, housing, etc...?

    Get what you can, which probably won't end up being much since it sounds as though you won't have any permanent scarring or injury. Personally, I was doored in 2005. I had some bad road rash all down my left arm a large (2-3") V shaped laceration on my right shoulder (corner of the car door), a partially collapsed lung, and a really sore back. Which led to some back spasm associated with the accident intermittently recurring until about a year after the accident, and a pretty nasty scar on my shoulder. After lawyer's fees, medical, material etc... I settled for about $13,000. The other factor in all this is that there will almost always be something a little off. Your back injury may not ever quite heal up especially if you've already had surgery there. I know that over 2 years later my shoulder still feels weird and tight in certain positions. Hope this helps.

  9. #9
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Some BF members have read about my sole experience in this arena:
    1) date: 30 years ago (therefore, you may want to triple all of my Nov. 1976 dollar amounts, for inflation);
    2) fault: 100% motorist (left turn across my path, into a driveway);
    3) bicycle damages: bent top tube & downtube on db Reynolds 531 frame -- $200;
    4) injuries: moderate concussion, two facial lacerations, clavicle fracture;
    5) total medical expenses: $600 for ER visit, to x-ray and set clavicle, suture cuts on chin and cheekbone, and for overnight observation at UCLA Medical Center;
    6) final settlement: $2700 with no "future contingency medical" rights. (I don't think they offered those back then, because I recall thinking how appropriate that should be, in case my concussion caused any future problems.)

    I was advised that a customary pain-and-suffering settlement runs about 3 to 4 times total medical costs, and I was also advised that I probably settled somewhat too cheaply. However, if I had gone through an attorney who would have kept 40% of my total settlement, I would have had to get close to $4500 just to break even.

    Interpret and extrapolate from my data with caution. This was California in 1976, i.e., no stupid "no fault" insurance laws. Your location may differ. Your time of occurrence obviously differs.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  10. #10
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    So that $XXX potential future medical expenses fund is just a kind of escrow in case you need to draw on it for future med expenses stemming from this accident? Your back is sore, you could have done any kind of damage to it that might not show up in an x-ray. Before you settle, see a chiropractor, or better yet a DO who's also an MD. Have them check you out before you settle to make sure nothing is structurally out of whack with your spine. Explain your situation to them and ask for their advice.

    Many ailments only show up years later. If this is an escrow account (they manage control of the money) or even just a promisory to pay out in the future iff you have difficulties stemming from the incident in the future, maybe you want to find out what a year's worth of regular chiropractic or osteopathic treatments will cost and give them that figure. Also get with your own insurance co. and ask them for advice--this is part of what you pay them for... There might be a legal way you can leave the amount open ended for possible future med expenses.

    Plenty of people out there who settled with the best intentions, now paying for it with lingering med issues and no coverage.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Gromit's Avatar
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    One more word of caution and this is why you need to get a lawyer. If the driver's insurance company is responsible for payment of medical for your injuries and you settle your claim for future medical, you could run into problems if your future medical exceeds your settlement as your insurance company might refuse to pay for any treatment it deems related to this accident. (e.g. your seemingly minor knee injury needs surgery which far exceeds the amount of your settlement).

    Remember, they want to settle with you - not because they like you - but because they feel it is in their financial interest.

    Good luck. Hope you recover well.

    P.S. In the U.S., you are often compensated for more than out of pocket expenses when a negligent individual harms you. You haven't hit the lottery, you're just being paid back. Regardless of any settlement, I'd bet you'd rather the accident never happened.
    Blue RC4, Salsa La Cruz

  12. #12
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    [QUOTE=Little Darwin;5954018]I am assuming that you are in the Litigation Happy States of America...

    I would like to remove the term "deserve" from any discussion like this.

    You do not deserve anything beyond your direct expenses. You are negotiating for what you are willing to accept to make yourself "whole." This is NOT your opportunity to get your share of the American dream.
    <SNIP>QUOTE]

    I do not dissagree that folks should get what is right and reasonable. The word "deserve" certainly is a loaded one and its definition would vary widely between people. The irony is that I get realy steaming mad when I hear of some loose managing to get a few million dollar settlement over some minor BS accident, but then we know of other poeple who were injured and truely deserved more assistance. Sadly we are all paying extra in all our premiums from health care to insurance for the folks that milk the system.

    In a sick sort of way I did benefit from my accident this past March. I was hit while passing through an intersection when the person who was stopped at her stop sign didn't see my and clipped me right as I was infront of her. I was extreamly luck that the only suffered minor injuries. the car hit me right around my right ancle and her forward momentum was enough that I was flipped onto the hood of her car. My front wheel was smashed, the front fork was bent, and my frame was cracked. The only injuries I sustained was scraped up knee, a sprained thumb and blood under a finger nail that had to be asperated. My bike was nearly 26 years old and I've been lusting after new bikes for years, but since I didn't ride much I just could not justify the expense. Since the insurance provided replacement value I got a new bike out of the situation. Some might say I benefitted, and I could not entirely disagree. I do however realize how lucky I was. A little but more speed on the drivers part and I might have gone all the way over the car. As sted in a previous message however NY state has clearly defined what is reasonable and I actually don't disagree with any of it except for the 80% lost wages reimbursement. I guess this is to encourage people not to take too much time of. In my case I lost 5 hours between the time the accident happended, and I was done at the ER. Thankfully the driver's insurance agent/company was helpfull, I was paid quickly, and no lawyers were needed.

    Since the accident I've ridden to work almost every day and now have nearly 1900 miles on the new bike. Every so often my thumb still gets a little sore, but I consider myself super lucky that it is the only bad reminder of that accident I have.

    Happy riding,
    André

  13. #13
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    Get a lawyer. If you settle it yourself you are practically guaranteed to get screwed.
    +1000. your settlement, less attorney fees could be significantly higher than what the insurance co would offer.

    as far as another poster's suggestion that your entitlement is to simply recover actual damages, that's flatly incorrect and ignorant. money for your pain and suffering is both real and fair as are punitive damages in many cases. with regard to your back, remember that often once you get those problems you have them for life. an attorney that specializes in personal injury can help guide you to a reasonable and appropriate number there, too.

    no one asks to get injured and when it's severe nearly everyone would give all the money back in exchange for their lives to be "righted." It's a bs fallacy that ppl are getting the "american dream" when they've been injured and have to be reimbursed via legal action.
    One Less Car
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