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Posted: 11/26/2001 10:31:06 AM EDT
Attention all lawyers and generally smart folks (of which this board has many). I have a question pertaining to personal injury and claim settlement. If you have any advice, please answer asap. Here's the deal. My sister lives in a condo in the Reno, NV area. About a month ago the homeowner's association hired a contractor to recarpet the stairs. Said contractor put the carpet in place, but didn't tack it down all the way. My sister was coming out of her condo and ended up slipping on the unfinished carpetting, falling down about seven stairs and getting torn up by the railing and the asphalt at the bottom of the stairs. There were no warning signs or even tools in evidence that would have clued my sister in to work in progress. Her injuries involved lacerations to the right knee and right elbow, three fingers sprained on her right hand, and a persistent hematoma on her right shin (basically a huge bruise that is a raised lump under her skin). Well, she is healed up pretty good now, but finally the claims adjuster is coming around to settle up with her. This adjuster works for the insurance agency that insures the contractor company who was doing work on the stairs. So, enough of the background. Here is the question. What should she ask for? Neither of us has ever had to deal with personal injury matters, either on a legal or insurance level. My sister called and asked me because I am the "big brother", but I really don't have any advice to give in this situation. My sis is afraid the claims adjuster (who is coming this evening) will try and settle with her for an unfairly low amount. He has offered $1000, but she doesn't know what is reasonable, so she has no basis to bargain from. Additionally, hiring a personal injury lawyer is probably out, since my dad still supports my sister somewhat and he calls some of the shots (she is 23, living on her own but Dad still helps out financially). Dad doesn't want to get a lawyer involved unless there is a grave injustice. Also, my sis is self-employed (hence the reason for the financial help from Dad). So any advice? Anything my sister needs to be cautious about when talking with the claim adjuster? Thanks much for your advice, Dilbert
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 10:45:48 AM EDT
How much money did it cost her in medical and missed work? That is how much she should ask for. What she should do is focus her energy on making sure this sort of thing never happens again. I'm really not a big fan of suing, but it does sound like these people were negligent.
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 11:16:46 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Chimborazo: How much money did it cost her in medical and missed work? That is how much she should ask for. What she should do is focus her energy on making sure this sort of thing never happens again. I'm really not a big fan of suing, but it does sound like these people were negligent.
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I would say the above times three. Michael
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 11:21:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Ponyboy:
Originally Posted By Chimborazo: How much money did it cost her in medical and missed work? That is how much she should ask for. What she should do is focus her energy on making sure this sort of thing never happens again. I'm really not a big fan of suing, but it does sound like these people were negligent.
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I would say the above times three. Michael
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I agree. I'm not a lawyer, but three times actual damages is usually a reasonable amount.
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 11:25:32 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/26/2001 11:18:42 AM EDT by jhasz]
Originally Posted By Chimborazo: How much money did it cost her in medical and missed work? That is how much she should ask for. What she should do is focus her energy on making sure this sort of thing never happens again. I'm really not a big fan of suing, but it does sound like these people were negligent.
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Yeah, Ponyboy is about right. Maybe a little less - but not much. Another place for info is Nolo press (www.nolo.com - I think). She should never sign anything she does not understand.
My sis is afraid the claims adjuster (who is coming this evening) will try and settle with her for an unfairly low amount. He has offered $1000, but she doesn't know what is reasonable, so she has no basis to bargain from.
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Well, that's a given. He's going to protect the interests of the insurance company. Don't let that faze you, if he wants her to sign something, tell him you want you're atty to look at it before you sign it. That way you can at least think about it without him there, even if you don't have a lawyer look at it. But the final analysis is that Ponyboy is pretty close to right. She's not going to get rich, but it should pay for medicals, loss of income, and "pain and suffering" - which isn't much in this case I would guess since she's doing well already a month after the accident. Of course, the usual "I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play on on TV - so check it all out with a real one" applies.
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 11:33:47 AM EDT
In a PI claim there's about 3 items that need to be looked at in a claim. Liability - if they've assigned a claims adjuster, then it seems that their insured is a fault. (Don't assume this.) Remember that the adjuster is there to pay as little as possible on each claim. He or she is not there to be her friend. Damages - what specific damages did your sister incur? She'll need complete medical records and billing to support her claim. She may also need a doctor's narrative, it's basically a chronology of the injury and treatment. If it's a serious injury the doctor, in his narrative, may indicate a permanent partial impairment(like 10% loss of a hand, etc.....) It's common practice to put all of this information in a binder or brochure, it's often called a special damages binder or brochure. It has a list/copy of all medical records, bills, and lost wages that were incurred as a result of the defendant's actions. In the special damages brochure, there should be a page that adds up all the bills/expenses including the money she wants for pain and suffering. Award - Amount to ask for really depends upon the injury. It's common practice to ask for 2 to 4 times the amount of the damages listed in the binder. I'm not familiar with the laws in NV, but I am sure there is a statue of limitations. It's usually 1 or 2 years from the date of the injury. Check your local laws. So she should be in no hurry to settle. But don't forget that date! Be sure that she doesn't sign anything that she doesn't understand! Hope this helps.
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 12:33:44 PM EDT
Thanks guys! Once again, ar15.com proves to be an awesome resource. jhasz, that web site, [url]www.nolo.com[/url] is awesome! The web site was full of useful goodies, including info on how to handle the claim by ourselves, and how to resist settling immediately. I was interested to learn about the rule of 2.5 to 3 times the amount of medical expenses. I always thought that was kind of cheesy to ask for more than you paid out to the doctors, but I found out that this is the standard way to compute compensation for pain and emotional suffering. That is fair. My sis had trouble climbing stairs and performing basic tasks like typing after the accident, so she does fairly deserve compensation for the inconvenience, pain, and loss of income. Thanks again to all for your help. BTW, regarding loss of income and doctor's bills, those are still coming in so I am glad to learn that we don't have to settle right away.
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 12:43:52 PM EDT
Did the carpet move and cause the problem?
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 1:34:48 PM EDT
Actually the problem was that the carpet was tacked down at the back of the step, but not at the front. It was supposed to wrap underneath the step and be nailed down, but it was sticking out over the edge of the step a few inches. So it seemed (when looking from above) that the step was wider than it actually was and my sister stepped on the fabric hanging over the step which was not supported by wood underneath, and down she went. Ouchie!
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 4:16:08 PM EDT
when you are injured, you should only get whatever it takes to make you whole (unless punative damages are in order--nothing here indicates such). that means you only get your damages. this 3 times your damages is BULLSHIT. if you have $20 in damages, you should get $20. you don't MAKE money on getting hurt. the legal system is not the lottery, its not a free ride. this sort of "pay me" attitude kills business, and drives up insurance. you only get whats due to you, and not extra. (of course, you also get damages for pain & suffering, if you do indeed have pain & suffering, and not an auto 3x). if ya try to sucker the insurance adjuster, they'll just go to court, an attorney will take 50% of the award, and everyones insurance goes up.
Link Posted: 11/26/2001 4:21:35 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Avtomat: when you are injured, you should only get whatever it takes to make you whole (unless punative damages are in order--nothing here indicates such). that means you only get your damages. this 3 times your damages is BULLSHIT. if you have $20 in damages, you should get $20. you don't MAKE money on getting hurt. the legal system is not the lottery, its not a free ride. this sort of "pay me" attitude kills business, and drives up insurance. you only get whats due to you, and not extra. (of course, you also get damages for pain & suffering, if you do indeed have pain & suffering, and not an auto 3x). if ya try to sucker the insurance adjuster, they'll just go to court, an attorney will take 50% of the award, and everyones insurance goes up.
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So, I guess the next time I get pissed it'll be ok for me to come over to your house and smash one of your bones with a hammer right? I'll make sure I do it in a place as not to cause permanent damage and will be selective as to not cause you to have to miss any work. I'm in a position to get you some free medical, so it will be no out of pocket expenses to you and we will be even. Sound good to you? Michael
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