Insurance -- Pain & Suffering Settlement

chisueMay 13, 2014

Is there a way to evaluate an offer for this?

My DH was broadsided at a local 3-way stop intersection 18 months ago. He had the right-of-way. The at-fault driver (age 17 and covered by her parents' auto insurance) was ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident; pleaded guilty in court; paid $280 fine and court cost and was sent to traffic school. I don't know what her father was fined for his expired vehicle license. (I do know he's an attorney.)

Their insurance (Chubb) has paid car rental fees and auto repair of $8K plus $600 for reduced value to the extensively damaged car.

My DH did not suffer lasting physical harm. I drove him to the ER and spent half a day there. He had X-Rays and was sent home, 'merely' rattled, with pain meds for bruised ribs that healed after a few weeks. As the driver, he was slightly ahead of the center pillar that took the brunt of the impact.

It took weeks of phone conversations and forms and dealing with the auto repair place and rental car place. It's been off and on after that. Now 18 months have passed. I'm happy that DH wasn't badly injured, but this girl's negligence disrupted our otherwise quiet Senior lives far beyond the day of the accident.

Anyone have experience or advice?

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I would not accept any settlement too soon. Sometimes injuries show up even up to 2years. You should not have had to handle the fixing of the car or renting another one. This is the job of your insurance agent. Mine did when I had an accident and it was the fault of the other person. All I did was had it towed to the garage, and my agent did everything else. Oh yes, when I got hit, I had OnStar. After pushing the red button, the person's first question was there any injuries, and they called the police etc. Again don't settle too soon and what does your agent say?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Thanks, Marie. Our insurance agency (State Farm) was useless from the outset. This happened on a Saturday. Our local agent did not return my calls, left on his answering machine. (Not that day. Not Sunday. Not Monday.)

The main office in Bloomington, IL was open long enough for me to call in the report, but after 12 noon all I got was another machine telling me to call back Monday. (I was making calls from the ER while my DH was in X-Ray.)

By Sunday I discovered the at-fault party's insurance was Chubb. THEY were available immediately. I told them to handle the case, and they did quite well -- with some insistence from me about where the car would be repaired and that it would need to be inspected and approved by the dealer where we have it serviced. DH's ER bills were paid. (Despite the hospital failing to heed that they were told this was an *accident* and billing Medicare and our supplementary insurance.)

The issue now is apart from all that. It's about the "Pain & Suffering" portion (insurance terminology). There was pain. There was suffering. Hard to put a value on the shock and hours of dealing with resultant effects. (I don't think $2K is adequate.)

As I was writing this I had a call-back from our State Farm agent.(Amazing!) I'd called to ask for help on this. He agrees that this is inadequate compensation.

I guess I have to ask an attorney to write Chubb and ask for more.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:06PM
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I am of the school if the claims were paid promptly, sounds it they were by the other insurance company, I might ask for additional money for pain and suffering hoping that they would pay more. If they will not change the amount I would except and be thankful.

If you hire an attorney you might get a larger settlement but most attorney's here receive 50% or more of any settlement. The generally also add your pain and suffering along with loss of spousal union, sex, to the lawsuit.

You might want to consider changing either agents or insurance company.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:45AM
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My wife used to be a claims supervisor, so I asked her what would she do if this case were presented to her.

Here is what she told me.

You have been made "whole" as far as the car is concerned. So that's settled. But your husband was injured. No, not seriously, but he should be compensated in some way. You cannot be compensated for your troubles doing what your agent should have done as far as the car repair goes. Your hassle and aggravation would fall under "stuff happens".

But how much is fair? Today we have everybody calling lawyers wanting pain and suffering, loss of spousal comfort, anything they can think of to wring the last dollar out of that evil insurance company. Today America considers any injury a chance to hit the lottery.

You've been offered $2,000. My wife considers that a lowball. That is what she would have actually paid 25 years ago. She says today $5,000 would be considered a fair settlement.

So you get a lawyer. This is a peanuts case for him/her. S/he will make a demand of $25,000 which will automatically be laughed at. Both sides want this cleared off their desks, so after 12 months or so, they settle for $10,000. Then the lawyer takes his 40% fee, and then adds in his/her 'expenses' like all the phone calls at a kazillion dollars an hour.

And after all this time, your husband gets a check for.... $5,000.

Just a bit of information, lawyers do NOT frighten any insurance company, contrary to their ads. They are literally laughed at every day. When any lawyer would call my wife with a demand, her first statement back would be something like "I want your demand, not your mortgage balance". So when you see the commercials showing insurance companies getting nervous because you called Veeblefetzer and Associates, it's completely false.

Your average inside claims adjustor is in his/her late 20s to mid 30s, college educated, and works in a cube farm, not in some private office with leather furniture saying "Darn! Veeblefetzer is the lawyer, so I can't play golf this weekend!" No, it's "Hello Mr Veeblefetzer. How's the wife and kids? Great! Yes my husband got that promotion we talked about last month, thank you for asking. Now about this claim. C'mon George, I want your demand, not the sticker on that Bentley you're drooling over." (laughter on both ends of the phone)

I read stories where people just threaten to call their lawyer and the insurance company caves. Never happens. When someone threatens to call their lawyer, insurance companies have a standard response:

"Have your attorney send us a letter of representation, and we will do all negotiations through him, and all contact with you will cease."

There would always be the brother or friend of the claimant calling the adjustor claiming to be an attorney "wanting to clear this case up". Standard answer is "send in your letter of representation and we'll talk. But until then, I cannot speak with you. Good bye."

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:48AM
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I'd request $5k immediately and sign a release, both will be happy. At this time I wouldn't hire an attorney, as said, they will take more than it is worth, your case is small potatoes, but do it now before your statue is up.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:13PM
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It was an unfortunate incident, but you have to decide how much time and effort you really want to put into trying to get more of a settlement out of this. There's a price to be paid for continuing to re-live this, for involving an attorney, and for not simply moving on with your life. Sometimes the effort required to get to what's fair -- whatever that is -- is more than it's worth. I'm speaking from experience...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:19AM
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My DH was riding his bicycle and got hit by a car. Woman opened her car door just as he was passing. He was knocked out, had a concussion, lump on his elbow and a headache for a few days. Went to the hospital.

We weren't sure how to proceed so I picked up this book at the library.

'How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim' by Nolo. It described the difference between soft and hard tissue injuries and why the hard ones will lead to a bigger settlement because one doesn't really know how long they take to heal or if they can cause issues down the road. Don't settle too early!

The woman's insurance company wanted to give us 2k. We said that wouldn't cover the medical bills or the money he lost from the time he had to take off work.

We said if they didn't want to present a better offer then we would hire an attorney who worked on a contingency basis, and let them hash it out court if they preferred.

We were in the right. Had the police report, photos of the damage to the bike and body. The back of his helmet had a deep gouge from hitting the pavement.

They shuffled their feet until I told them it was more about the principle than the money and that if they wanted to lowball us, DH was willing to let the lawyers keep the entire settlement if they didn't want to be reasonable.

The insurance company took our second offer.

Don't let them give you crumbs. You husband suffered from rib injuries. Who knows what other body parts could have been affected that might give him arthritis down the road?

Keep this in mind when negotiating. Best of luck and glad your DH is ok.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 7:06PM
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Generally speaking in my area of the country 2 to 3 times the medicals is standard compensation for something like this. I too recommend trying to settle without an attorney if Chubb is willing to negotiate.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 9:56AM
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You should always call your insurance adjuster that is who your agent would have called if you had reached him. I have insurance papers in my car and wallet. They say in case of an accident to call the adjustment office. I am not sure you can get anything for that kind pain and suffering.

Don't know if this will help, but my mom got bitten by a dog that hung onto her as he fell to the ground. It tore clear to the bone. She got all medical bills paid and $7,000 for her pain and suffering. She was in her 70's and it was very traumatic. Her son in law was her agent and he advised that that it was a fair settlement. The dog owner had to put up 6ft board fence before a week was up or their insurance company would cancel their insurance.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2014 at 8:23PM
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