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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 12930
Experience:  Attorney with significant personal injury experience
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We were hit by a teenager running a stop sign. Her insurance

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We were hit by a teenager running a stop sign. Her insurance co. has been very cooperative. My husband was not injured. My medical bills are in and my pain has subsided. Our new car isn't done yet after two months, $25 K in damages. I had minor rib pain for 6 weeks, just seat belt and side air bag injuries. Her ins co said they would pay the $20 K medical bills and all the car repair (and offered a rental.) They said they would settle, that I should decide what I want for pain and suffering. We won't sign anything until the car is done and a car we paid $80 K for (and had about 3 k miles on it) is now worth a lot less. We don't want to sue anybody, and want to be done with this as soon as possible. How much pain and suffering should I request? Should we also request diminished value of car and if so how much?
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. I am very sorry to hear about your accident but glad to hear you are okay and have made a full recovery.

Judging by the amount of damage to your vehicle and the cost of your medical expenses, it sounds like this was a rather severe accident, and so settlement should be taken seriously.

I am not a physician nor have I reviewed any of your medical reports, but I can tell you from my experience handling a tremendous number of similar accident cases that latent injuries are not uncommon (particularly in the neck and back), and so it is important to be confident that you are fully healed--or at least fully aware of the extent of your injuries--before settling your case. You only get one chance to settle, and if you settle for an amount that doesn't take into account the full extent of harm, you are forever barred from re-opening your claim and demanding more.

A rough rule of thumb on personal injury cases is that general damages (also known as "pain and suffering damages") tend to equal 1-2 times the amount of reasonable medical expenses incurred. However, there are a lot of other soft factors, such as unique emotional trauma, tissue scarring, age, etc. that can influence this amount higher or lower.

Even though your medical expenses are high, it would appear that your actual injuries--at least those presently known to you--are not terribly severe. Therefore, I would typically err on the lower end of the spectrum on my claim for general damages. In a case similar to yours, this would mean shooting for a final number on general damages equaling about $20,000, which in turn means making an initial offer of at least 50% greater, or about $30,000.

Again, these numbers are highly fact-dependent and I am not in a position to provide actual advice. My answer should be construed only as a general guideline for cases with similar facts. I do hope that you find this information helpful, and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask. I will do everything I Can to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. Seems like good advice. But What about the car? 2013 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid, (72k $,) 3 mos old with 3700 miles. We don't have it back yet after 2 mos. At fault driver's ins. co. offered a cheap rental which we accepted for 3-4 weeks then returned. We feel the value of the car is diminished. Is there a formula for that?

Thank you for your reply. I apologize for not addressing that aspect of your question. Tunnel vision on my part.

It is a reality that people won't pay as much for a used car that's been in a bad accident, and claimants are entitled to compensation for that presently unrealized loss.

There is no specific formula for determining diminished value. It really depends on the specific car and the specific damage. You could retain a car sales expert (perhaps someone from Porsche) for a fee and get a statement that the ordinary diminished value under your circumstance is X number of dollars, or you could perform your own study comparing the value of salvage and non salvage titles. The latter approach will produce results with questionable accuracy, but at least you are basing the claim on something tangible and not paying for it (which kind of defeats the purpose).

You are also entitled to a rental for the amount of time it would reasonably take to fix your car. Claimants are expected to be diligent with regard to obtaining repairs, however, and if repairs are delayed--even due to the untimely work of an autobody shop--insurance companies generally will not compensate for that additional loss of use. Four weeks for loss of use is pretty standard, so I wouldn't expect compensaton beyond that.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Kindest regards.
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