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Need some advice please...especially from lawyers.....(12 posts)

Need some advice please...especially from lawyers.....CARBON110
Jul 29, 2003 10:41 AM
Hey peoples,
I have an excellent lawyer for my case after being hit by a car. I start litigation next week against the Ins. co and the woman who had an "error in judgment". Short recap.....she recieved two tickets for illegal driving resulting in injury, refused to help me after hitting me, and attempted to leave scene. In addition she out right refused to call 911. My Hospital bills came to 30k but Health Insurance covered all of that..except 3k that I will have to pay for...for whatever reason. I spent 5 days laid up in the hospital and 3 months in a cast. I have 6 pins and a rod through my leg. 3 broken bones and still have not been to PT yet which is suppose to happen next couple of months. ANyway, the Doc says things still arent right or healed yet and I still have alot of pain however...its never on the bike that my leg or ankle hurts. So I now have to decide on what/how much to ask for and I am having a hard time deciding how to judge this kind of thing. I really want to stick it to her though since she refused to help me. The Doc says the next 6-12months I will experience the really big problems with the rebuilding of my tendons and muscles. They had to cut my claf almost in half. But for the most part it looks pretty good outside the scars on my shaved legs. I have a figure in mind but want to make sure its enough....any experience with friends or people you know and what they went through would be helpful. My lawyer is EXCELLENT and hasnt really advised me on this part. But we are getting close to the point where money figures get tossed around. Any info would be appreciated
re: Need some advice please...especially from lawyers.....Live Steam
Jul 29, 2003 10:51 AM
There is probably a "standard" amount for the injuries you suffered and the future pain and suffering you will more than likely experience. Your lawyer, I am sure, has an amount in mind. He can give you a history of what has been awarded for similar accidents. He wants as much as possible too. This is where his compensation comes in. I think you generally go with some outlandishly high nimber and the jury, should you win, decides what to award based on your case.
if I was a juror...ClydeTri
Jul 29, 2003 10:56 AM
and somebody was asking for some outlandishly high award, this is where my nature goes in the oppposite direction..I think that person is just out for the money and is not interested in real justice, so I go the opposite way and basically award them nada...zilch...people shouldnt be using the court system frivously...and those that do should be punished...
hey...the guy got hurt bad from the sound of it (nm)ColnagoFE
Jul 29, 2003 12:38 PM
Around here... and who said juryNo_sprint
Jul 29, 2003 11:04 AM
You said you're going to arbitration right? That means no jury. Will there actually be an arbitrator involved?

Around here, PI suit arbitration is a very casual process typically involving a couple phone calls and letters between your lawyer and the ins. co. lawyer. Perhaps you're doing something different. Secondly, most PI suits around here are not settled until you're finished with treatment as the rule of thumb is not to guess what in the future might be needed. That is typically not taken into consideration. Around here the typical rule of thumb is the settlement figure begins with discusstion in the range of 33/33/33, meaning 33% to lawyer, 33% to victim, 33% for medical bills. Since your injuries cost you 30k, that means the discussion would typically begin at or about 90K. Good luck.
Forgot to mentionNo_sprint
Jul 29, 2003 11:07 AM
If you settle with her ins. co., your med. ins. will come after their share unless they have no knowledge of what you're doing whatsoever. If that is the case you're defrauding them.
in bama..its the land of the ridiculous high settlement...esp..ClydeTri
Jul 29, 2003 11:08 AM
especially in the poorer rural counties..they, the jurors must think they are sticking it to THE MAN by awarding high insurance settlements..all they are doing is raising insurance premiums for all us as the insurance companies have a defined profit margin by law..huge settlements are paid by myself and all other insured....not some company...
Jul 29, 2003 12:36 PM
isnt that what your lawyer is for? why should you have to negotiate settlements? sounds like you could have some permanent injury. don't be all in a rush to settle. i'd wait until after your PT is done at least.
I'm not a lawyertorquer
Jul 29, 2003 12:49 PM
but I recently went through the settlement process after a car/bike accident.

First off, be carefull about others' advice (including mine, obviously) because of the state-by-state variation in procedures and awards, even from county to county. (When I discussed my own accident with lawyers, they all asked if there was any possible connection with the neighboring borough of NYC, which was notorious for high jury awards to auto accident victims; as it turned out, I was "stuck" in the jurisdiction of my more conservative suburban county, and the potential award amount plummetted.) Assuming that your lawyer is experienced both in your particular jurisdiction and with this type of case, he/she would be the best source of advice about potential payouts.

Whatever actual jury awards for similar circumstances they may point to, you will have to decide how much to "discount" your acceptable settlement, based on the delay and uncertainty of the litigation process. Your lawyer's expenses in going to trial would also reduce your net settlement; on the other hand, the insurance company's cost go up as well, so you both have incentives to settle.

Do you really start litigation next week? Or do you mean that you start negotiating with the insurance company? I recall that your accident was fairly recent, so I will assume the latter. I would therefore hold off untill all medical issues have been resolved, especially if you have medical insurance helping with the bills. As I understand it, in most states you have two years after the accident to file a lawsuit (have your lawyer confirm that). To be safe, discuss the issue of reimbursement of medical insurance payments with your lawyer as well; after all, why should your insurance pay for injuries clearly caused by the driver?

Once you have a good idea of your medical outlook, then propose a settlement amount for "pain and suffering." Find out the driver's policy amount, but don't let that limit your proposal; insurance companies will often quietly pay out in excess of the policy coverage in order to avoid the bad will resulting from their insureds' having to pay out the difference.

When I researched this issue in preparation for my own negotiations, several web sites suggested a rule of thumb used by insurance companies of twice the medical costs for pain and suffering; however, as I noted above, the actual amount will vary to a ridiculous extent based upon the location of the accident. At best, its a starting point.

Good luck, and speedy recovery!
Wow, not quite the response I was anticipating.....CARBON110
Jul 29, 2003 1:48 PM
Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond. My lawyer is very experienced in this field and this is all he does. I have complete faith in his professionalism however he has asked me to think about these kinds of things. My case is solid solid solid. There really isnt any formula as I understand where the case is taking place. But yes it is time to start the dialogue between the Ins co. and us. The numbers you above have mentioned are much lower then what I have been advised or even expected to see. As far as the local laws and awards go they are pretty fair from what I have gathered off the net and also received from local attorneys who I consulted before choosing one. Also, my agreement with my laywer is he pays for everything outside my medical bills. He is regarded as the best lawyer in the city and did this case in part since I ride with a very good friend of his all the time. In anycase, I think between her traffic violations, an actual confession after the PD caught up with her and the actual damage I feel more then comfortable asking what I am comfortable with....that is to say...what I feel is fair. So thanks for sharing your experience and I think you are right....its very different for every case so perhaps I was just looking for some general info on what these cases turn out. I am quite sure however I will be taking this to court and I will be very surprised if the insurance co. who is playing it very cool right now, will actually meet the settlement. Besides it will cost them a hell of alot more. I already make a good income and therefor I can wait. Also, most insurance co wont reveal her covereage...but in this case unless her coverage is amazingly high we will ifnd out regardless. I have been told we may actually go after her personal assets if it comes to it. Not quite what I want to do but I am willing to if it comes to it...after all the circustances could have been completely avoided had she waited just 3 seconds
re: Need some advice please...especially from lawyers.....jtolleson
Jul 29, 2003 2:16 PM
I am a little surprised that your "excellent" lawyer has not given you some guidance regarding the typical size of verdicts (or arbitration awards) in your area.

The rule of thumb in my jurisdiction is "3 times medicals." That is very general guidance and can be at times wildly inaccurate. Also, some of the facts you've laid out (such as refusal to call for medical aid) could in some states serve as grounds to add a punitive damages claim. Here, punitive damages are capped (must be no higher than compensatories).

You also don't say what you mean by "starting litigation." Are you actually going to trial? That seems awfully fast since you are still in treatment. Maybe you mean you are just filing your suit, which means you don't really need to decide anything yet. Or, if you are in a situation where you must arbitrate your claim, are you headed to arbitration??????
hard to tellDougSloan
Jul 29, 2003 3:07 PM
If you trust your lawyer, then he/she can tell you much better than we could, since I assume the lawyer knows much more about your injuries, verdicts in your area, and the decision makers.

Much of it depends on any permanent injury and loss of use, future medicals and lost wages, apart from existing medicals and pain and suffering. That could vary a lot.

Off hand, I think you are looking at roughly $100k to $500k, but that's a gross estimate. Of course, if the defendant has $50k in coverage and no assets, you take what you can get.