Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth in Albuquerque, New Mexico?

One of the most common questions I'm asked by clients is, "How much is my pain and suffering worth under New Mexico law?" 

By:  Mark Caruso, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney (Albuquerque, NM)
My response is always that I quantify pain and suffering using the facts of each case. I have been an attorney for 31 years.  During that time I have exclusively handled personal injury and wrongful death claims.  I worked as an insurance company attorney for a part of that time.  So, I will give you my own analysis. 

The purpose of compensation for pain and suffering is to compensate you for what you have been thru because of the accident that caused your injuries. 

This not only includes the physical pain, but also includes the psychological effects, the stress, the time at the physician's office, the effect on your lifestyle and hobbies, and basically how the accident has affected you as a person. 

The amount of the medical bills does not always dictate the amount of pain and suffering. 

Clearly, victims with broken ribs or bones have less medical bills but have much higher pain and suffering than soft tissue cases.  Soft tissue cases usually have higher medical bills, because treatment is more intensive, while broken bones can usually be casted and left without alot of follow up care. Also, not much can be done to treat broken ribs.
Based on my experience of almost 30 years of handling personal injury cases, I believe that the pain and suffering for soft tissue cases are worth about 3 times the reasonable and necessary medical bills.  In addition, there should be compensation for  lost earnings,  future medicals and permanent impairment.  I believe that broken bone cases are worth about 7  times the medical bills. 

Arbitrators in Albuquerque have been typically awarding 3 times the medical bills in court mandated arbitrations in Bernalillo County.  Juries are much more inpradictable.

 It is extremely important that injured patients communicate to their health care providers all of their pain and  suffering and carefully describe how the injuries have affected them.  If they don't communicate pain and suffering to their health care providers, they will have a much more difficult time getting 3 times the reasonable and necessary medical bills. 
Health care providers won't fabricate complaints and symptoms of pain and suffering, so if there are no complaints by the injured patient they will have nothing documented by the health care provider. Picture it this way.  You need to give the doctor the ammunition for your gun.  They need you to feed them the information so they can document your complaints. 

It is more difficult for men to communicate pain and suffering to their doctor.

The reason is that most men find it more difficult to complain about their pain.  Men are macho, and it may be considered a sign of weakness to complain of pain.  Nevertheless, men must report the pain to their doctor to get full value for their pain and suffering.
Insurance company adjusters and their attorneys, judges, arbitrators and jurors will carefully read the medical records written by the health care provider.  If no pain and suffering is mentioned, don't expect a large amount of  pain and suffering.


A personal diary of how the injuries have affected you is also helpful. 

The diary can track specific instances an dates of pain and suffering.  The diary should include names of people who witnessed the discomfort and the degree of discomfort.  The diary can also be read by the decision maker in determining how the injuries affected your daily life.
 Attorney Mark Caruso is a former insurance company attorney who now represents injured clients in their personal injury and wrongful death claims.    Caruso Law Offices has two locations in Albuquerque to serve its clients--Northeast Heights and Westside. Mr. Caruso will also meet you at your home, work or hospital on weekends and after-hours.

For a FREE consultation you can contact Mark Caruso at the Northeast Heights Office (Montgomery & Carlisle) at 505-883-5000 or his Westside Office (Coors NW and I-40) at 505-369-1361.

Your consultation will be with Mark Caruso, not a legal assistant or paralegal.  He will give you a confidential and honest evaluation of your claim, discuss medical treatment and explain Caruso Law Offices'    discounted 29% contingency attorney fee on all pesonal injury and wrongful death claims.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The "Personality" of the Albuquerque Insurance Claims Office

How will the insurance adjuster evaluate my injuries from a New Mexico car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident or collision?  Former insurance company attorney Mark Caruso gives you their secrets.

By: Mark Caruso, Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney (Albuquerque, NM)
        As a former insurance company attorney I got to learn the personality of the various insurance companies.  Yes, that's right....personality.  When I talk about their personality, I mean their attitude, character and likeability.  Some insurance companies are, quite frankly, easier to deal with than other insurance companies.  Some insurance companies just don't care if you file a lawsuit against their insured.  Other insurance companies will do whatever it takes to settle the case.

          Here are some examples, as they apply to Albuquerque.

          Progressive Insurance is one of the only insurance companies with adjusters based in New Mexico with claims adjusters that are actually New Mexico residents.  These adjusters are easy to talk to, understand New Mexico culture and really show an interest in trying to be fair to fellow New Mexicans in the valuation of cases.  Progressive adjusters will often meet with our lawyers and our clients to get a real feel for the client and their claim.  The handling of claims is more personalized, and there is a good liklihood that the claim will settle without a lawsuit.

          Allstate, on the other hand, is now completely based in Dallas, Texas. There is no  claims office in New Mexico.   Their claims adjuster's attitude is, well, no better way to describe it but "Texan".  The adjusters know little about New Mexico, and they never pronounce  our Spanish names the right way.  It often seems like the client is only a "claim number" rather than an actual person. They tend to make very low offers of settlment, don't want to personalize the claim and really appear not to care if the lawyer needs to file a lawsuit against their insured.  That's why most claims against Allstate require a lawsuit to get the client the full value of their claim.

         There are dozens of insurance companies selling insurance in New Mexico.  State Farm, Farmers, Geico, Progressive, USAA, Fred Loya, Young America, Nevada General, Hartford and AAA are among the largest.  Each has its own personality and attitude when evaluating cases.

         Caruso Law Offices, PC has been handling car accident cases against these insurance companies and others since 1987.  Understanding their personalities is extremely important in knowing how to get our clients the most money possible.  Each claims adjuster has their own likes and dislikes, and each has a certain way they like to evaluate their cases.  Some insurance companies pay extra when a Medical Doctor is involved in the case, and others substantially increase the amount when there is an ambulance. The differences are endless.

         Attorney  Mark Caruso used to work for the insurance companies before he began working for victims of personal injuries.  As a former insurance company attorney he knows the ins and outs of the insurance claims business.  That's why doctors, other attorneys, body shops and even insurance agents refer to Mark Caruso to handle their car accident claims. 

         If you have an auto accident call attorney Mark Caruso for a free consultation.  You will meet with an attorney, not a legal secretary.  We have two offices to serve you...Our Northeast Heights main office is located at 4302 Carlisle NE (Montgomery & Carlisle)  phone is 505-883-5000.   Our West Side satellite office is located at 2929 Coors NW  Suite 310, (Coors & I-40) phone is 505-369-1361.  

          We look forward to hearing from you.