Filing Whiplash Settlements After A Car Accident
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Car accidents can happen to anyone, even to the most careful of us! These accidents, whether major or minute, can result in injuries and damage that may incur significant financial losses on both parties. Did you know that more than three million Americans suffer from whiplash each year, and 10% of all Americans experience chronic pain from a whiplash injury throughout their lifetime?
If you have sustained whiplash, there are several important steps you can take to protect yourself and garner maximum compensation for your injuries. As such, whiplash settlements provide ample financial compensation for any damage to your vehicle, lost wages, physical injuries, and more. However, it is notoriously difficult to navigate the process of filing for a whiplash settlement or to even determine if you are qualified for once. In the meantime, let’s break down what you need to know when you are filing for whiplash settlements.
Whiplash And Symptoms
Whiplash is a neck injury. When a car suddenly accelerates or decelerates in a collision, the impact causes your neck to forcefully move backwards and forwards, thus injuring the ligaments, tendons, and ligaments in your neck. The immediate symptoms of whiplash are pain and stiffness in the neck area.
However, the pain and stiffness may persist in the neck, shoulders, back, and jaw long after the injury has healed. Other than pain, whiplash can also result in other long-term symptoms that will negatively affect your health weeks or even years after your injury. Such symptoms include dizziness, migraines, as well as issues with balance, sleep, hearing, and vision. These symptoms will appear between 12 hours to a few days after a crash –– however, if they continue to persist for more than six months, you may have chronic whiplash.
As it takes a while for the symptoms of whiplash to manifest, it may be difficult to determine the severity of the injury. It is hence important to seek medical attention immediately, even if your injuries seem mild.
Am I Entitled To A Whiplash Settlement?
You are entitled to compensation for your injury if a doctor has diagnosed you with whiplash and your injury has severely affected your quality of life. Moreover, if you suffer from long-term symptoms, you should seek a payout that is higher than the average due to the financial losses, as well as pain and suffering that the injury has caused. You should also consult an attorney to assess the viability of your settlement to ensure that your insurance company will not deny your claim.
What To Do After Medical Care
After the doctor has diagnosed you with whiplash, start a personal injury claim immediately. It is important to inform your insurance company that you intend to file for a settlement as soon as possible to ensure that your claim will be taken seriously.
Whiplash claims are usually faced with scepticism, so it is important to keep all documentation of your medical diagnosis and expenses. Such documentation serves as proof to support your claim, which will be required by the insurance adjuster. Medical documentation includes the doctor’s notes, diagnostic tests like X-rays, follow-up appointments, and treatment plans such as physiotherapy. Expenses are calculated from your medical bills, the cost of prescription and over-the-counter medication, and lost income due to your inability to work.
Building A Whiplash Injury Lawsuit
After receiving a diagnosis, you will need to contact the insurance company. Inform your own insurance company if the accident occurred in a no-fault state. If the state allows you to file personal liability claims, contact the fending driver’s insurance as well and inform them that you intend to file a settlement or claim. A whiplash lawsuit is more complicated in at-fault states as there are thresholds for the nature of the injury and damage inflicted.
Although most whiplash claims are settled, that is not guaranteed. You may have better chances of being awarded the appropriate compensation if you file a lawsuit, especially if the insurance company offers very little compensation or outright denies your claim.
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you can be compensated for the damages incurred. These damages include medical bills for immediate treatment, such as ER visits, as well as long-term medical treatment like physiotherapy or chiropractic care. Other financial damages include loss of income and property damage. Emotional damages such as pain and suffering are also entitled to compensation.
Factors That Affect The Settlement Amount
Whiplash settlements vary greatly, mainly by the nature of your injury and the culpability of the parties involved. Whilst most settlements are done out of court, it’s useful to bear these factors in mind should you head to trial.
Nature Of Injury
The severity of your injury is a major factor that determines the extent of your compensation. The average settlement for mild to moderate whiplash is USD2,500 to 10,000. More serious injuries with soft tissue damage that require long-term treatment for a few months or longer can settle for USD 30,000 or more. Chronic pain and other long-term symptoms can increase your chances of getting an above-average settlement. The more severe cases of neck injuries that damage the vertebra or nerves can settle for more than USD 30,000. There are settlements of six or seven figures, which are usually for cases where the plaintiff suffered from brain injuries like concussion on top of their neck injury.
The other driver must be proven to be negligent for you to receive compensation for pain and suffering. For cases where the other driver was drunk, the chances of receiving a higher-than-average settlement increases as your attorney can argue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are to punish the drunk the digger for his negligent behaviour. On the other hand, if you are partially or wholly responsible for the car accident, your chances of successfully receiving a settlement are very low.
You have a higher chance of receiving an above-average settlement If the other driver’s vehicle was a big rig or a commercial vehicle. Drivers of such vehicles have higher insurance coverage than the average everyday driver as they spend more time on the road and their bigger vehicles are a lot more dangerous.
Your settlement may also be above average if you are driving a motorcycle during a traffic accident. Many states do not require motorcycle riders to prove that they have received permanent injuries to receive compensation for pain and suffering.
The damage to your vehicle is often used by jurors to determine the service of the accident. This is because muscle tears associated with whiplash do not show up on MRIs or X-rays, and hence cannot be used to prove that you have whiplash.
Navigating a whiplash settlement on your own is a complicated and difficult process. You deserve to receive full compensation for your injuries, suffering, and financial loss. Hence, it is best to hire a personal injury attorney to help you with the legal process, so that you can a peace of mind while healing.