How to Negotiate for Pain & Suffering in an Automobile Accident

Negotiating for pain and suffering from an automobile accident requires more than just telling the insurance adjuster to give you a certain sum of money. These amounts are not just drawn out of the air but are carefully crafted based on a variety of factors. It also requires experience, patience and organization. Although you are certainly capable of doing this yourself, consulting with an experienced attorney might yield a higher settlement amount.

Gather your medical bills together. This includes the ambulance bill, hospital bill, doctor bill and the emergency room bill. Add medical treatment costs, such as X-rays, diagnostic tests and MRI’s. Other bills include medical co-pay amounts, physical therapy treatments, chiropractor bill and medical devices recommended by the doctor. Total all the bills together. This gives you your total medical costs.

Write a letter to the adjuster. Include your name and case number below the insurance company address and above the salutation line. A short, “Enclosed please find all medical documentation for my case. The total medical bills are $x,” should be sufficient. Mail it with copies of the medical bills.

Prepare to negotiate with the adjuster. Calculate the settlement amount for your case. General rule of thumb varies from two to five times the medical bills. For example, $500 of medical bills may yield from $1,000 to $2,500 for pain and suffering in an ideal situation. It can also yield zero if you are found at fault for the accident.

Wait 10 business days for the adjuster to receive your letter. Call the adjuster and confirm she has received your medical bill packet. Ask if she has prepared a settlement offer for your case and the details. Accept the offer if it is fair. If not, inform the adjuster of your proposed settlement offer. Ask that she review the offer and let you know her response within the week.

Contact the adjuster the following week if you do not hear from her. Discuss the validity of the medical bills and treatment. Describe the pain you currently feel and the progression of the pain from the date of the accident to now. This process may take several weeks.

Suggest you might hire an attorney. This may lead to an increased offer, as the adjuster might prefer to keep the company cost down and not hire an attorney. Accept an offer that you believe is reasonable. Otherwise, prepare your case to file in civil court.


  • Take your time negotiating to wear the adjuster down and increase the offer.