Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

Parking Lot Accident

My Daughter and I were in a car accident on 1-14-01.We were parked in a parking lot,when someone hit us.the driver admitted he was at fault. we have been under doctor care since 1-16-01.We go to pt 3times aweek. I have been off of work since 1-22-01. My medical bills are $2200.00. The insurance wants to offer us a settlement. I need to know what amount would be a good settlement. I really don't want a lawyer only if I have too. I know I'm entitled to lost wages,pain&suffering and car damages. We both suffered lower back,neck and leg pain.What other benefits we may be entitled to ask for? How do the insurance evaluate the claim and decide how much to offer?Can you give me some idea what they might ask to settle. Do the base the amount on medical bills and damages to your car? Thanks for your time.

Asked on 2/28/01, 4:31 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Jeffrey Zinder Zinder & Koch

Re: Parking Lot Accident

You should complete treatment and make sure you have no permanent residuals from the accident. The value of the claim includes all the factors you have mentioned as well as how the injuries and loss of work affected your life. There are many factors to consider. Just be as complete as possible and ask for all the monetary damages that you have incurred plus your non-monetary damages. You may wish to hire a lawyer just for a couple of hours to help you evaluate the claim and prepare a demand letter. This can be done on an hourly basis and thereby not cost you as much from your settlement. Also depending on the size of the claim the insurance company may change its tune and you will need a lawyer.

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Answered on 4/24/01, 10:14 am
John Bisnar Bisnar & Chase, LLP

Re: Parking Lot Accident

When you go before the court to have your daughter's settlement approved (which is required for a minor to settle a personal injury case) the court is going to ask a lot of questions about the injury, how it has effected her life, and how will it effect her future. The judge will ask your daughter questions. The Court will insist that your daughter's claim be properly handled. I am sure that the insurance company will try to explain everything to the Court. I have been to these "Minor Compromises" many, many times and have seen judges upset at parents and insurance companies for not properly compensating injured children.

Will you be putting her money into a "block account" or an annuity. If an annuity, what will the payoff be over what period of time. What company will provide the best rate on the annuity.

I have assited judges in evaluating such cases, on every occassion, my opinion has been, "the child isn't being fairly compensated" and the judge did not approve the settlement. In a number of cases I have informed the court that the insurnace company gave false information to the parents.

It is impossible to evaluate your case based upon the information you have provided. A "good settlement" is one that appropriatly and fairly compensates for the injuries suffered. Many injures do not manifest themselves for months. Many injures, like my back and neck injury from an auto accident in 1974, continue to be painful and life altering for many years to a life time.

You have leg pain? Wow! That is serious. Pain into the extremities is a symptom of a serious injury. Consult your doctor.

You have one year from the date of the injury (unless it was a governmental agency that is responsible, in which case you have six months) to settle the matter or file a lawsuit. Your daughter has until her 19th birthday.

Sure the insurance company wants to offer you a settlement. So if they want to make an offer, what is it? Be very careful. The adjuster gets kudos and sometimes a bonus for under paying on claims. As long as you are unrepresented or under represented, you are easy pickings.

If you don't want a lawyer, why are you asking these questions? The only people authorized to answer your questions are lawyers. The only people you want to get answers from are experienced personal injury specialists. These are men and women who's professional life is protecting people like you and making sure that injury victims get what they are rightfully entitled too. Don't get me wrong, there are many less than desireable attorneys. Take the time to find an experienced personal injury expert with an excellent reputation, one who you feel comfortable with and hire them. Then get on with healing emotionally and physically from your injuries. Don't be victimized again!

John Bisnar, Senior Partner, Bisnar & Chase LLP, Personal Injury Attorneys & Counselors at Law,, [email protected], 800-956-0123.

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Answered on 4/24/01, 11:32 am

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