Legal Question in Personal Injury in Arizona

Personal injury Settlement

The driver of a pickup truck drifted into the lane my car was occupying, forcing my car off an interstate highway and causing me to lose control of my vehicle which then rolled over three times. My wife and I suffered serious interal injuries, with my wife's total medical cost of $45,800. for six broken ribs and a brused lung. My cost were $21,300. for a compression fracture of my T-12 Vertebral body. The driver of the pickup truck insurance company, review the three eye witness statements, and the accident report, they have no doubt there insured is 100% responsible and cause the accident however, the negligence driver policy Coverages and limits of Liability are bodily injury $100.000. Each Person / Total $300,000. Each Accident / Property Damage $100.000. Each Accident

I have heard that the insurance industry settlement norms for serious interal injuries of this type, should be three times the medical cost. Therefore my wife settlement should be $137,400. (3 X $45,800.) and I would received $63,900. If the insurance company will only pay my wife a settlement of $100,000. this would leave her a $37,400 shortfall. Question: Will the they incress my settlement to $100,000. to cover her shortfall.

Asked on 10/24/05, 2:15 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

James Jenkins Jenkins Law Center PLC

Re: Personal injury Settlement

Both replies now posted by Arizona counsel have good information. I will add a few points.

There is no formula of "Three Times" for an injury. This was a rough guide used by many in the industry in the 70s and 80s for whiplash-type soft tissue injuries, where the cases involved basically neck and back strains that resulted in no permanent injury or substantial loss of earnings. Do not use this as a rule of thumb in your case. There are cases where a lot of medical expense is incurred for "diagnostic" charges, such as CT scans, MRIs, bone scans, etc., but there may not be injuries that are that serious. In other cases, there may be, for example, a loss of vision, with relative little expense for medical bills, but the damages are quite high. This must be analyzed on a case by case basis.

In my accident practice I advise clients to be cautious in making a quick settlement in serious cases, such as a rollover auto collision, because we find many cases where there are later-discovered conditions, such as post-concussion syndrome or other serious effects that are not readily diagnosed at first, or whose affects may appear later. Once your case is settled, you cannot re-open it. The case should be carefully examined for injuries that may not yet be recognized. Also, with a serious back injury, there may be future treatment, surgery, and consequences that are not known in the early stages of the post-accident recovery.

Be cautious as to the acceptance of the amount stated as the policy limit. I handled a case a few years ago where the client was told before he came to our office that the policy limit was $100,000.00. We discovered other insurance for him, and later settled his neck fracture and head injury case for many times that figure. That does not mean a similar result would necessarily be available in your case, but it should be checked out, and it might be well to hire an attorney by the hour (not on a 33% contingency) to handle the closing for your wife's case. In our office we also sometimes accept underinsured motorist cases on an hourly fee basis instead of the 33% fee charged by most attorneys.

Also bear in mind that the fact that your wife's case is clearly worth more than $100,000.00 does, in my experience, give you an advantage in the negotiation of your case, but it would ber unwise to discuss that in detail in a public internet forum. And using the underinsured motorist coverage you have will not affect your insurance premiums adversely.

I am sure that any excellent accident attorney would be happy to speak with you about your case, and that those other attorneys who have replied to your question would be available to do so. And you are always welcome to speak with me with more questions and in-depth information and analysis. I wish you and your wife the best of luck, and hopefully these comments will be of assistance to you.

Best regards,

James D. Jenkins

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Answered on 10/24/05, 9:47 pm
Jared Simmons Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC

Re: Personal injury Settlement

Based on the amount and severity of the injuries, you may be actually underestimating the damages to which you may be entitled. Further, you may be able to pursue and shortfalls in coverage against your own insurance company. Without more details it is difficult to completely answer your question. Based on the limited information provided I suggest you retain an attorney to properly look into this claim. If you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes on a speedy recovery,

Jared Simmons

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Answered on 10/24/05, 3:17 pm
John Kubasch The Kubasch Law Group

Re: Personal injury Settlement

If the policy is only for 100,000./300,000.00 they most likely will not adjust your settlement. There are other options to explore. You may have under-insured coverage or tthey may have a lot more assets to tap. There are also ways to circumvent policy limits.

John Kubasch

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Answered on 10/24/05, 5:34 pm

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