How best to settle a personal injury lawsuit?

UPDATED: Apr 12, 2011

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How best to settle a personal injury lawsuit?

I am trying to see where I can go with this case on my own, ultimately maybe needing a lawyer. In terms of a car accident, I have finished receiving treatment and now want to settle with the insurance company. Bills were roughly $7,000. I was thinking of asking for $25,000 in total settlement including the repayment to my insurance. The at-fault party’s insurance agent wants me to authorize a release of medical records. Should I do this? Will I need to do this in order to settle my case? Should I speak  with a personal injury attorney? Will it hurt my case if I have to get a lawyer because they do not want to settle reasonably? In Sacramento, CA. 

Asked on April 12, 2011 under Personal Injury, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your personal injury claim should include the medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills and wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine the amount of compensation you receive for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  These items should be sufficient for your claim with the other driver's insurance company.  After submitting the medical reports and medical bills, if the insurance company still needs additional medical information, at that point you could sign the release for the medical records; however, prior to that if you have provided the medical bills and medical reports, that should be sufficient without signing the authorization for the release of additional medical records.

It will not hurt your case to retain an attorney.  It may help you to get a larger settlement; however, the attorney's contingency fee will be paid out of the settlement.

If you want to receive $25,000, you should ask for more because the insurance company will respond with a lower figure.  Then there will be room for negotiation to come down to $25,000.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, you will need to file a lawsuit for negligence against the other driver prior to the expiration of the two year statute of limitations in a CA personal injury case or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  The two years is two years from the date of the accident.

If the case is settled prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, no lawsuit is filed.

It would be advisable to speak with a personal injury attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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