Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

Latest post 07-13-2010 3:08 PM by mudpie. 12 replies.
  • 07-12-2010 2:10 PM

    • Abartman
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    Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    OK, question for those who know Medical Terminology and hopefully know something about auto accidents and settlements.

    Long, long story short, I was hit head on by a drunk driver about 15 months ago. Both vehicles totalled.  The other driver was at fault, and died on the scene. I was taken by ambulance to a hospital with broken bones in my foot and arm, as well as 3 herniated discs, along with the typical cuts and bruises.

    I am really nervous now about driving, panic attacks and all that, and am now diagnosed with PTSD.

    Further, I just recently received my final doctor’s reports, I have permanent partial disability with a "whole body" impairment ratio of 12%.  Also, my doctor has estimated my continuing care to be about $3k per year for pain management, injections, pain meds, etc., Plus I will need surgery at some point in the future. 

    The other driver had coverage of $500k. Clearly this driver was in the wrong. I have about $20k - $30k in doctor bills, and have reached Max Medical Improvement. (I have tried all kinds of therapy)
    What can I realistically expect for a settlement? I am not looking for an easy score here, but the dr. also said I will need surgery in the future, the odds of improvement right now with surgery are only 40%. Not worth the risk, they said.

    Th insurance company actually paid my vehicle off, even paid about $4k more than the blue book value, which I though was incredible of them, honestly.  But what should I expect for a settlement? Sorry for the long post, thanks in advance for your thoughts. Yes, I have an attorney, meeting with her in about 2 weeks to go over everthing. Just looking for some thoughts now, some insight into what to expect.
  • 07-12-2010 2:21 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    I think you need an attorney. IMO, I would go after all 500k plus the estate for any life insurance/investments/real estate etc.

    From experience, my brother just recvd a settlement of 800k for a lifetime disability after an accident. One leg is now shorter than the other, future medical etc.

    I hope the overpayment of the car insurance didn't have a future claims waiver attached to it when you signed it.

  • 07-12-2010 2:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    I lot depends on factors that you haven't revealed.

    Your age?

    Your occupation?

    Your most recent annual salary or income?

    Are you still working at the same occupation? Same salary or income?

    If you returned to work after the accident, how much time off was there and how much of your salary or income were you not paid for that period?

    Are you being treated by a psychiatrist and medicated for the PTSD?

    Start by answering all of the questions and I might be able to give you a rough idea of where you stand.

    PS: "Going after" and getting are two way too diferent things.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 07-12-2010 2:26 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    A lot of this may depend upon the negotiation skills of your attorney.

    Did you have any lost wages from your job, if applicable? That likely would be factored into any settlement as well.

     

  • 07-12-2010 2:27 PM In reply to

    • Abartman
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    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    Mudpie, thanks for your thoughts and experience.  No, there were no waivers on the payoff of the vehicle, my attorney was very aware of the paperwork they sent.  They'd have not let me sign anything like that otherwise.

    I'm nervous about meeting with my attorney to go over this, just really stressed.  I'm not fond of attorneys, but I'm also grateful to have one at this point. 

    I just dread the settlement process, I expect it will begin now that the MMI has been reached and all.  I've been told from the time the demand letter is sent until I can get a check varies, but should be 60-90 days. Sound right?

  • 07-12-2010 2:30 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    Abartman:
    I've been told from the time the demand letter is sent until I can get a check varies, but should be 60-90 days. Sound right?

    Told by who? I hope it wasn't your attorney that's filling your head with that baloney.

    The first thing the other driver's insurance company will do is dispute your demand and offer you a fraction of what you are asking.

    That's going to lead to many, many months of negotiation and possibly a lawsuit that will take a couple of years.

    Of course, if you wanted to settle right away for a fraction of what you are asking, then you probably will get the check quickly.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 07-12-2010 2:34 PM In reply to

    • Abartman
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    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    Thanks, Jack:

    Age, 33.  I am a records analyst for (ironically) an insurance company, but it's in Life insurance, not Auto & Home.  Salary, about $35k, worked here now 2 years.  I am still working the same job, same income. I was on short term disability for almost 3 months, which paid about 40% of my income.  I am currently being treated for the PTSD by a psychiatrist, yes.  No meds at this time for that.

    Note, on the dr reports, he did note (accurately) that sitting at my desk for long periods of time is very uncomfortable and requires me to take frequent breaks. Not sure if you need that or not, but there ya go.  Also, the herniated discs affect my lower and upper extremities, one disc is in my Cervical spine, the other two are in my Lumbar area.  Neuralgia with radiculopathy, if I'm spelling that right.  And also carpal tunnel as a result of the broken wrist I sustained in the accident.

    Sorry for the long post, again.

  • 07-12-2010 3:49 PM In reply to

    • Abartman
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    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    There were some lost wages, I was on short term disability and only collected 40% of my usual pay for a few months.  The attorney I have is reputable, and he has actually worked with/against the very same adjuster, not that it means anything, I guess.  I honestly don't expect the whole policy, that seems almost unreachable.  But I don't want to accept a lowball offer either.  This is my life here, and I'll have to deal with this for the rest of my life.

  • 07-12-2010 4:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    Any figures I give you are for illustrative purposes only. So don't even think of them in connection with your claim because your settlement could be between a dollar and a gazillion dollars.

    Let's talk about the disability first. Theoretically, the way you figure compensation for a permanent disability (using your percentage and income) is like this.

    12% of 35,000 = $4200. Adjust that for inflation over the next 32 years till normal retirement age of 65.

    The gummint explains to me that my social security hasn't gotten a cost of living increase in 09 and 10 because there's been no inflation.

    However, let's figure 2% average inflation per year just for illustration purposes.

    $4200 per year for 32 years at 2% is going to amount to about $197,000.

    But that's not what you'd get. You'd get the present value of that amount which is the amount when invested at a reasonable rate of return would get you to $197,000 after 32 years. Using a 5% rate of return (again, being generous) it would take about $41,000.

    "But what about raises?" you say. Good point. Let's figure 5% merit raise per year (more generosity), add that 5% to the 2% inflation and the $4200 becomes about $532,000. Present value of that at a 5% rate of return is about $110,000.

    So let's say that, for the permanent disability alone, you might get between $41,000 and $110,000.

    To that you add your meds to date (about $30,000), the 3 months portion of your earnings (about $5250), future meds (anybody's guess), and pain and suffering (also anybody's guess - there's no formula).

    Your lawyer may have other ways of calculating the demand. And I'm not saying that a lifetime of pain isn't worth half a million, it's just that the reality of liability claims is a great big monkey wrench in the works.

    I would be surprised if the insurance company's first offer even reached $100,000. Your lawyer might be able to negotiate for a while but eventually he'd have to file the lawsuit. That's when the insurance company has to factor in the cost of litigation in relation to the cost of settlement and the offers tend to get a little better.

    Not a lot, though. The disadvantages of your claim is that you still have the same job and the same income and the disability requires you to take a few extra breaks during the day. At some time down the line, if you go to court, you'll be in front of a jury that see's a healthy looking young person with no visible disability and the same employment as before the accident. They will pretty much zone out through all the medical mumbo jumbo and wonder why a healthy looking young person wants lots of money. The result is likely to be very disappointing and your lawyer will get 40% of the award instead of the 30% that he would have gotten for a settlement.

    Sure, I could tell you to ask for half a million. I could tell you that you are entitled to half a million. And others might tell you that. But what good would that do you? Would you rather be prepared for the reality or have it surprise you when you aren't prepared for it?

    As for the PTSD, there's not going to be any money in that. I'm sure that you really are "nervous now about driving, panic attacks and all that" but paying a psychiatrist is not the cure. In fact, the whole point about being a psychiatrist is that you don't make a living curing people, you make a living treating people (like chiropractors).

    I'll leave you with Adjusterjack's fast cure for PAASD (Post Auto Accident Stress Disorder). Go rent yourself a high performance Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, or even a Corvette for a week. Take it out everyday. Drive the highways and the back roads for hours at a time. By the end of the week you won't want to give the car back.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 07-13-2010 9:46 AM In reply to

    • Abartman
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    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    First, thank you for your input.  You obviously know much more about these types of things than I, so I appreciate your time.

    I am following your theoretical explanation, and it makes sense.  One thing I'll add in case: the doctor's final report did estimate somewhere between 3-5 thousand per year for ongoing pain managment, injections, things of that nature.  Just for numbers (and arguements sake), would I assume life expectancy - current age x the $3 - $5 estimate?  I ask this because in your explanation you said "anyone's guess" for ongoing treatment, and I'm curious if they would follow the example I just stated on something like that.  Will the adjuster accept the DR's estimate on that?

    Also, what can you tell me about "pain and suffering".  I'm not even sure where they would begin to calculate something like that.  In your experience, is this a little of a lot of $$.  Seems like a rather ambiguous assumption on anyone's part, mine or the adjusters.

    When my spouse and I met with the attorney back a few months ago, she stated at that point that her opinion was the case is worth about $300k.  Now, I'm a practical person, and a realist.  So I took that with a grain of salt, so to speak.  Then, we met again and her estimate was lower, and this was even after discovering I had a third herniation.  My point is, I figure that when the demand is sent out and we see what they come back with, I'll know :-)

    Again, thanks for your time. And as far as the PTAAD, I'm not ready for that just yet.  Although, those Dodge Challengers are quite badass...

     

  • 07-13-2010 2:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

          

    Abartman:

    First, thank you for your input.  You obviously know much more about these types of things than I, so I appreciate your time.

    Yes, I learned a few things after 35 years in the insurance industry. Ok

    Abartman:
    One thing I'll add in case: the doctor's final report did estimate somewhere between 3-5 thousand per year for ongoing pain managment, injections, things of that nature.  Just for numbers (and arguements sake), would I assume life expectancy - current age x the $3 - $5 estimate?  I ask this because in your explanation you said "anyone's guess" for ongoing treatment, and I'm curious if they would follow the example I just stated on something like that.  Will the adjuster accept the DR's estimate on that?

    Probably not. Because the adjuster isn't going to "accept" any figures coming from your side. The adjuster will dispute them and attempt to negotiate a settlement based on a fraction of the "asking" amount. Were it to go to a jury the defense will trot out medical experts that will testify that 3k to 5k in annual pain management is not necessary.

    Continued next post.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 07-13-2010 2:50 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    Abartman:

    Also, what can you tell me about "pain and suffering".  I'm not even sure where they would begin to calculate something like that.  In your experience, is this a little of a lot of $.  Seems like a rather ambiguous assumption on anyone's part, mine or the adjusters.

    "Pain and suffering" is completely arbitrary. A claimant can pick any number out of the air and so can the claim rep. But, in the end, a jury award is not going to be based on what the claimant says about his pain and suffering or what the defense says about it. It's going to depend on the jury's perception and emotions. If you get wheel chaired into the courtroom looking like Steven Hawking or Christopher Reeve, the pain and suffering award could be millions. If you walk in with no apparent visible disability, the pain and suffering award isn't likely to be very much. That's about all I can tell you about it. You're lawyer will pick a figure and see how far he gets with it.
    Abartman:

    When my spouse and I met with the attorney back a few months ago, she stated at that point that her opinion was the case is worth about $300k.  Now, I'm a practical person, and a realist.  So I took that with a grain of salt, so to speak.  Then, we met again and her estimate was lower, and this was even after discovering I had a third herniation.  My point is, I figure that when the demand is sent out and we see what they come back with, I'll know :-)

    True, you'll just have to wait and see.

    Abartman:

    Again, thanks for your time. And as far as the PTAAD, I'm not ready for that just yet.  Although, those Dodge Challengers are quite badass...

    Right.

    They helped win the American Revolution:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMRMW1FXSHw

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 07-13-2010 3:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Permanent Disability - Auto accident Settlement question?

    Actually, you don't have to negotiate at all. Your lawyer will wait until the last week of the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. Once the case is docketed, there will be a hearing to setup the ground rules and start discovery. Discovery is generally 30 days for Interrogatories, 30 days for Production of Documents, then the Deposition, all of which have Motions to Compel and Responses etc. etc. (Dependent on state law.)

    Your life expentancy and your future earning capacity should be considered. Are you in law school? You could have been a lawyer with a hefty income if it weren't for the actions of another. See my point. You're not always going to be a 35k per year office worker. Your lawyer is skilled enough (hopefully) to argue for the most.

    Again, you don't have to negotiate anything, just let the jury decide. That's why we have juries. The two sides can't agree.

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