Auto accident with tibial plateau fracture
Question Details: A man pulled out in front of me on the highway and I broadsided him at about 55 mph. I sustained a tibial plateau fracture, right knee, non-displaced, 3mm depression. I was put in a knee immobilizer, non-weight-bearing for 3 months, then physical therapy. Doing well now, but at high risk for early arthritis & possible future knee replacement. Should I settle with insurance co? How do I decide how much?
I'm not sure how fault would be allocated here. Assuming it was the other parties fault, then you certainly have some medical issues that you would need to be compensated for. Just how much those injuries are worth is really a matter that you should speak about with an attorney. For instance there is pain and suffering to be considered, I would think some lost wages, and certainly potential future damages as well.
Talking this overwith a lawyer in you area is advised. Cases of this type usually provide for a free initial consultation. One thing I can tell you for sure is that you should not deal directly with the insurance company on this. They will low ball any settlement amount. You've been injured. You have rights. Time to let a professional help out with this.
You have sustained a major injury and a significant period of loss of function, plus you incurred major medical and rehabilitation bills plus non-reimbursed associated expenses and the need for care from family and friends. Your spouse would also have sustained something known as loss of consortium. Plus there is higher than average risk of future harm.
The question is not whether you should settle with an insurance company (the odds are better than 25 to one you will rather than take this through a jury trial) but when and for what amount? What's fair and obtainable depends on lots of factors.
One key factor that may serve to limit your recovery is the amount of liability insurance the other driver has (in other words if he has the minimum liability coverage vs. a large amount with an umbrella policy) and the amount of under-insured motorists coverage you bought from your carrier.
A second factor is the assets of the driver who was at fault and/or the owner of his car, and/or if the car was being used for an employer's business or someone else might be liable. (There would be a very different potential value to the case if the other driver was a poor guy with no assets driving his own car from a bar who was about to file bankruptcy vs. if the other driver was Bill Gates who was driving Warren Buffet's car to a Microsoft board meeting.) You can't get blood from a stone. Similarly if there was anyone else at fault (perhaps the car just came from a GM repair shop where the mechanic mistakenly disconnected the brakes) the value of the case would change.
Then there are a who series of issues as to fault. Were I defending this case for the driver that pulled out I would argue that you should have been able to stop, the accident was avoidable and it may have been your fault in whole or in part. In most states to the extent you were at fault the exposure is reduced proportionally, and in some if you had any degree of fault (CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE) you could not recover. Thus I would say we're good guys, we'll cover the out of pocket costs and bills and give you $X for pain and suffering -- that's a real low-ball offer -- and hope you are desperate for some cash, scared of possible liability, and foolish enough not to see a lawyer -- and hopefully settle the case for pennies on the dollar. I might add in "my insured has a limited amount of insurance, and no assets to speak of so you are luck to be getting that."
In short, get yourself to an auto accident / personal injury attorney NOW. They handle these cases all the time. You can find a accident attorney in Ohio at www.AttorneyPages.com. They work on a contingency fee basis and you don't have to pay anything upfront. And in 99 out of 100 cases will get you FAR more, net of lawyer fees, than you ever could get for yourself, and in 95% of the cases without the need for going to trial.