Learn the key factors to negotiate a fair neck injury settlement
Car accident victims frequently suffer serious injuries, especially head and neck injuries. If you have suffered a serious neck injury, what is a typical car accident settlement to expect?
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of neck injury car accident settlements, as well as other factors involved in these serious neck pain motor vehicle accidents.
Frequent Neck Injuries in Car Accidents
A car accident neck injury can lead to debilitating pain in your neck as well as other parts of the body. Below are some of the common injuries to the neck that occur in many serious car accidents:
- Muscle spasms: This is caused by a straining of ligaments around the facet joints in the neck vertebrae.
- Abrasions and lacerations: An open wound in the neck can occur from a seatbelt, airbag or broken glass. A wound can lead to risk of infection. A deeper cut may cause ligament or tendon damage.
- Whiplash: The sudden back/forth motion of the head in a car accident can cause serious injuries to the cervical ligaments, leading to long term pain.
- Soft tissue injuries: Other muscles, ligaments and tendons in the neck may be injured, which can lead to pain that affects your ability to enjoy life and/or work.
- Damage to vocal cords: This can be caused by a serious blow to the larynx.
- Traumatic brain injury: Tears to neck arteries and veins can reduce blood flow to the brain.
- Paresthesia: This is burning or tingling on the skin without a clear cause. It may be from a slipped disc hitting the root of a nerve in the neck.
- Mental and emotional trauma: Damage to cervical spine nerves can cause serious mental and emotional trauma in some neck injury victims.
Neck Injury Symptoms After Car Accident
Car accident neck injuries, as we note above, can be much more than mere pain and stiffness in your neck. If the injury is not treated, it can cause chronic health problems that will affect your entire life. If you are suffering from many of the following symptoms several days or weeks after a car accident, consider talking to a personal injury attorney:
- Pain in the jaw
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Extreme neck muscle tightness
- Frequent muscle spasms in the neck
- Significant, long lasting pain between the shoulder blades
- Chronic headaches that do not dissipate with time
- General fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Problems with the inner ear, balance and nausea
- Having trouble with swallowing
- Swelling in throat or on neck
These symptoms are serious, and you should be evaluated as soon as possible by an experienced medical professional.
More Information About Whiplash
One of the most serious problems after neck injuries in a car accident is whiplash. The pain from whiplash can persist for months in the worst cases and can lead to other complications. Below is more information about whiplash.
- This is the most frequent soft tissue damage that happens in car accidents. It is often improperly treated and may even be overlooked by medical professionals. Some doctors may diagnose whiplash as a strain or sprain of the neck. But a neck sprain or strain may not fully address the symptoms you experience.
- Whiplash associated disorders may refer to a more chronic condition that can cause serious emotional and mental trauma, as well as back and head pain that interferes with daily life.
- Severe whiplash can cause damage to the cervical, thoracic or lumbar areas, and even paralysis.
Whiplash is often due to a rear end accident, and can result in a significant neck pain settlement.
Major Factors in a Car Accident Neck Injury Settlement
The amount that you may recover in a serious neck injury will vary, based upon many specific accident factors. Some accidents have more extensive medical bills and lost wages than others, as the severity of the car accident can be very different. Also factoring into the amount of the neck injury settlement is the length of your recovery. Are your accident injuries temporary or permanent? Generally, the more serious your neck injury, the higher settlement amount you can expect.
Other Settlement Factors With Neck Injuries
Other factors affect the amount of the settlement for neck pain and neck injuries. First, is the other driver 100% at fault? Also important is the amount of auto insurance coverage available, whether the other driver was working at the time for a company with larger insurance policy coverage, and the skill/experience of the personal injury attorney you have.
Each of these factors will be crucial in the amount you get in a settlement. If there is no dispute about who is liable, this will always lead to a greater amount of settlement. This is because some states will reduce your amount of settlement if you are partially at fault.
For example, in the state of Virginia there is a contributory negligence rule in effect. This simply means even if you just are 1% responsible for the car accident, you may not collect any damages for your neck injuries. In other states, the standard is comparative negligence, meaning that if you are 5% responsible for the accident, you may only recover 95% of the damages awarded.
If there is not a lot of insurance coverage available, you will only be able to collect up to the maximum amount of the coverage. If there is a larger policy available with a higher limit, you may be able to obtain more for your neck injury damages.
Also, if the driver responsible for the accident is an individual and not a company, juries often are more sympathetic to the negligent party. After all, most juries are not interested in bankrupting someone. If the case does go to trial, the amount of insurance coverage is not allowed in evidence. But if the defendant is a company, the jury will know this, and it is possible to see a higher award.
The level of skill in the personal injury attorney you hire is also very important. Being able to obtain compassion and empathy from a jury is a skill that not all attorneys possess. It is important for this reason to select a personal injury attorney for your car accident case that has proven skills connecting with juries for major damage awards.
Average Settlement for Car Accident Neck Injury
Many neck injuries in car accidents are whiplash injuries. But you should know that it uncommon for victims to receive large settlements for whiplash. This sort of neck injury is not considered to be as serious by many auto insurance companies. On the other hand, other neck injuries can result in larger settlements.
The first thing to do to determine what your neck injury is worth is to add up all your losses. These losses may be referred to as ‘special damages.’ They are the losses that you have had since your car accident. Most often, special damages consist of medical bills and lost wages.
For instance, if you have a whiplash neck injury and had $5000 of medical bills and $2000 of lost wages, your total special damages are $7000. This part of accident compensation is simple.
But what should you receive for pain and suffering for neck injuries? This is more complex. Most insurance claims professionals and personal injury attorneys will use a pain and suffering calculator with a multiplier to determine what your neck injury pain and suffering is worth. The multiplier is usually between 1-5. For many whiplash neck injuries, it would be expected to use a multiplier of 1-2. This number is multiplied by your special damages to arrive at a possible settlement amount.
For more serious neck injuries involving long term disability, such as paralysis, a 4-5 multiplier may be used. But this level of multiplier is only appropriate for very serious accident injuries.
Many whiplash neck injuries are due to rear end crashes. A common scenario is where the victim was stopped at a stop light and was rear ended by the negligent driver. This collision may cause the lead driver to experience a whiplash injury. Again, a whiplash injury is typically treated as a minor injury by insurance companies. But you may experience a lot of pain from such a neck injury. That is why it is very important to have a good personal injury attorney in your corner.
For more serious neck injuries, large settlements are possible. For example, a severe neck injury with nerve damage and spinal surgery resulted in a $2.4 million settlement recently in Minneapolis. In another case in the same city, the accident victim experienced a neck injury with immediate loss of feeling in the arms and legs. While he regained feeling and some movement, he had a long term cervical spine bruise that resulted in permanent loss of use of the hands. That neck injury case settled for $1 million.
The Importance of Retaining an Experienced Neck Injury Attorney
If you want to file a neck injury claim after a car accident, it is important to select the appropriate attorney. Neck injuries, especially whiplash, can be challenging to prove. Tears, sprains and other soft tissue injuries are not visible on x-rays. Further, many medical professionals do not have a complete understanding of how whiplash pain can seriously affect your ability to live and work. Therefore, it is imperative to locate an experienced and appropriately qualified personal injury attorney in your area who has won large settlements for neck accident victims.