I have been experiencing severe lower back pain for months after a car accident. I still haven't settled the case since I can't figure out how long this injury will last. What settlement should I accept from the insurance company?
If you're still experiencing back pain after a car accident, now may not be the best time to try to reach a settlement. It can be frustrating to have an injury claim drag on, especially if the accident and your injuries have affected your ability to earn a living, and you're experiencing financial uncertainty as a result.
But you don't want to settle the case unless you've received a definitive diagnosis of your condition, and you've also gotten as accurate a prognosis as possible when it comes to the future medical care you will require.
The reason for this is, once you reach a settlement agreement and you sign a release of liability, you're giving up your right to any future remedy in connection with the car accident. In other words, six months from now, should your condition take a turn for the worse and your back pain become debilitating, you can't go back and ask the other side for more money.
So, it's crucial to not talk settlement (or at least, to not finalize any settlement) until you've been treated for all your injuries attributable to the car accident, and have made as much of a recovery as you are going to make -- you are as good as you are going to get, in other words.
Attorneys and medical professionals refer to this as reaching "Maximum Medical Improvement" (MMI). Once you reach MMI, you and your doctors (and your attorney) will have a complete understanding of your damages -- meaning all of your losses stemming from the accident, including compensation for past medical expenses, future medical treatment, pain and suffering, limitations on activities, and any other negative effects of the accident. And you can move on to valuing your car accident case from there.