$500 pain and suffering settlement offer for a car accident?

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Question:

I got a letter from the car insurance company with an offer to settle that includes money for pain and suffering. Is a $500 pain and suffering settlement offer just a lowball offer after a serious car accident injury?

Answer:

In most car accident cases, a $500 pain and suffering offer is probably too low to be considered adequate, unless your injuries were very minor and required little or no medical attention.

That’s because pain and suffering damages are supposed to represent compensation for the physical discomfort, emotional anxiety, annoyance, and other negative effects of injuries after a car accident. And the dollar figure for pain and suffering is typically derived from a formula that considers the seriousness of your injuries, the nature of your medical treatment, and the prospects for a full and speedy recovery.

In short, even in a case where you’ve got just a few hundred dollars in medical bills, but clear and documented injuries, a $500 offer to settle the pain and suffering portion of your car accident claim can pretty safely be considered a “lowball” offer.    

Assuming you’ve got fairly serious injuries coupled with a significant course of medical treatment, an offer this low indicates that the insurance carrier may not be taking your claim seriously. Plus, insurers know that some claimants won’t put up much of a fight in the face of a little resistance, so they start out with a lowball offer and see where that gets them.

So, what can you do in response to a low-ball offer? If you haven’t already done so, it may be time to lay out your side of the story -- including how the accident happened, who was at fault, the medical treatment you’ve needed as a result, and how your injuries have impacted your life -- in a professional and thorough demand letter. Include copies of all relevant documents, such as any police report that was generated, all medical bills you’ve received, journal entries that detail your injuries and their effects, and anything else that substantiates your claim. Learn more about writing a car accident demand letter.

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