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Car Accident Neck Injury Settlements
Sadly, car accidents often lead to neck injuries. The force of impact when one car hits another, even at seemingly low speeds, can cause the head to jerk suddenly and violently from side to side or forward/back. This can cause whiplash, herniated or bulging discs in the spine, and a number of other neck injuries involving the many muscles and ligaments in the neck.
Most people who’ve suffered from neck injuries in car accidents have questions and concerns. Will my injuries be long lasting? How long will I be out of work? Will my car accident settlement cover all my medical bills? How much should I settle for my neck injury?
This article will explore everything about car accident neck injury settlements… the ways in which neck injuries occur in car accidents, common injuries and symptoms, followed by an in depth discussion of car accident settlements involving neck injuries and how to maximize your settlement if you’ve suffered a neck injury in a car accident.
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How Much is My Car Accident Neck Injury Settlement Worth?
There are a number of factors that go into calculating a neck injury settlement after a car accident. A major factor is the severity of injury sustained as a result of the crash, because that will impact the settlement amount in a number of ways. A more severe car accident injury usually requires hospitalization and more medical bills, longer and more expensive ongoing treatment, and more missed work – all of which are going to increase the amount of compensation included in a car accident settlement.
Other factors also influence the amount of your neck injury settlement, including property damage, pain & suffering, and the amount your day to day life activities are impacted by the injury.
Anytime you’ve been injured in a car accident, you’ll want to do a few key things:
- Take pictures of all cars, people, buildings etc that were involved in the accident.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with any other drivers involved, or witnesses who saw the crash.
- See a doctor and save all paperwork.
Common Neck Injuries After a Car Accident
Common Neck Injuries After a Car Accident
There are lots of nerves, muscles, bones, and ligaments in the neck. During an auto accident, the body is often thrown forward and backwards suddenly from a rear end or head on collision, or from one side to the other in a T-Bone accident. The sheer force of the body moving so quickly and violently is the cause of most neck injuries in car accidents.
The most common neck injuries after a car accident are:
- Herniated discs: Between the vertebrae of the spine sit soft, rubbery discs that act as cushioning between the bones of the spine. The center of these discs contain a soft, almost jelly-like substance, which can push outwards through a tear in the harder, outer ring, known as the annulus. Sometimes herniated discs heal on their own without intervention. But others, especially c-5, c-6 and c-7 herniated discs from car accidents, can be serious and require surgery and months of treatments to heal.
- Bulging disc: This happens when the disc gets dislodged and puts pressure on the spinal cord, causing serious pain. Generally bulging discs injuries are age related and are less related to car accidents than a herniated disc, but can happen and often require surgery and ongoing treatments such as steroid injections.
- Spinal cord injury: The spinal cord is a collection of nerves running from the base of the skull to the tailbone. Car crashes can cause serious damage to the vertebrae, which can impinge on the spinal cord. In very high speed car accidents the spinal cord can be partially or entirely severed, which can cause partial or total paralysis and a lifetime of recovery.
- Broken vertebrae: Also known as a broken neck or cervical fracture, this type of injury occurs when one of the bones in the neck is cracked, shattered, or shifted. Most broken neck injuries resulting from car accidents require surgery, and can have lifelong consequences.
- Whiplash: This occurs when the head is whipped back and forth in a crash, damaging ligaments and tendons. Whiplash can range from minor to chronic and severe, with surgery required for some serious cases. It’s often caused by rear end collisions, and even minor cases can be very painful. Whiplash settlement amounts can range from very small to 6 or even 7 figures depending on the severity of the whiplash injury.
- Pinched nerves: The spinal cord is a collection of nerves. Sometimes the impact and head jarring motion of a car accident can cause the nerves in the neck to push into each other or compress to the point of pain. Most pinched nerves heal on their own with physical therapy, and in some cases anti-inflammatory medicines and steroids.
How Are Car Accident Neck Injuries Diagnosed and Treated?
Signs of a neck injury after a car accident can vary, but even if you’re in minimal pain, it’s a good idea to see a doctor, sometimes symptoms show up days after the accident. Some common symptoms of a neck injury from a car accident:
- Neck, shoulder, or upper back pain
- Loss of range of motion of the neck/head/shoulders
- Dizziness or vision issues
- Trouble sleeping
If you’re experiencing neck pain after a car accident, see a doctor as soon as possible. They will run a series of tests diagnosing the injury:
- X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans
- CT Scans
- Physical range of movement tests
- Verbal questions & pain scales to determine the severity of the pain
Upon diagnosis, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan, which will usually include one or more of the following:
- Neck surgery, such as spinal fusion surgery
- Steroid injections to reduce pain and swelling
- Neck braces
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic treatments
- Ice & Heat
The amount your neck injury settlement is worth is going to largely depend on how much medical intervention is needed, and how much that is going to cost. As a general rule things like surgery, testing using expensive equipment like MRI machines, and long ongoing treatments are all going to increase the compensation amount of your car accident neck injury settlement.
Proving Liability Is Key to Maximizing Car Accident Neck Injury Settlements
Who is at fault? If the other driver is 100% liable or it was found that they had drugs and/or alcohol in their system at the time of the accident, your settlement could be much higher. If you’re partially at fault or the liability is not clear, your settlement will be lower. Proving negligence in a car accident is an important step to securing a maximum settlement, and is one of the most important things a car accident lawyer does. Proving that a driver was negligent, at fault, or even reckless will all increase your neck injury settlement amount.
Other Factors That Can Impact Car Accident Neck Injury Settlements
Loss of Income/Employment
Neck injuries from car accidents can have a big impact on a person’s earning potential, which impacts the amount of the settlement. For example, a broken vertebrae or herniated disc can keep a person from driving a car, lifting anything over a couple of pounds, or even looking at a computer screen.
Depending on a number of factors around the victim’s professional life (for example, how much money does this person earn, how much does their injury prevent or hinder their ability to perform their job duties, and how long will they be sidelined or less than 100%), the loss of income piece can be the biggest part of a car accident neck injury settlement.
Severity of the Neck Injury
Sometimes it is more difficult to get pain and suffering compensation for a neck injury than a broken bone, such as a fractured knee or wrist. Why? You must prove the crash caused your neck pain.
Some doctors say neck pain is unrelated to the car accident. They also may say long-term neck pain is not related to a crash. However, most physicians agree that a collision will cause a bone fracture.
A broken bone usually results in a higher settlement than neck pain. So, a broken arm or leg usually has a higher case value than a sore neck.
This is because a broken bone is visible on diagnostic scans, such as X-rays. Many neck injuries are invisible on X-rays and CT scans. Also, some injured parties have neck pain that is not caused by a car accident.
The At Fault Driver’s Insurance Policy
How much insurance coverage did the at fault driver carry? Different states have different insurance requirements, which can affect the settlement amount. Similarly, commercial drivers and other work vehicles are required to be insured for more than normal commuter vehicles, so this could mean a larger settlement amount.
The amount it will cost to fix the damaged car, as well as any property in the car that was damaged in the accident, will also have bearing on how much the car accident settlement will be. Obviously it’s a lot more expensive to replace a new Mercedes than a 15 year old Kia.
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Average Settlement For Car Accident Neck Injuries
The average settlement for car accident neck injuries is somewhere in the $10,000-$30,000 range, but baked into that number there are some neck injury settlements that are 7 figures, and others that are 3. This is because of the unique nature of each accident, injury, and individual.
It’s important to keep in mind that average settlements are just that – an average – it’ll be swayed by remarkably high or low settlements. This is why it’s helpful to look at some actual car accident neck injury settlement amounts to gauge where your settlement may fall.
Actual Settlement Amounts For Car Accident Neck Injuries
$107,000 Neck Injury Settlement
A Florida woman was hit by a car while walking down the street. She told the doctor that the accident aggravated her pre-existing bulging discs at C3-4 and C5-6. The woman also suffered a back injury and a broken nose.
The driver was at fault, and the woman received a $107,000 bodily injury payment from GEICO.
$95,000 Neck Injury Settlement
A drunk driver struck another car, causing a herniated disc. Despite no surgery and minimal loss of income, the fact that the at fault driver was drunk helped the victim secure maximum compensation for his neck injury.
DUI cases are worth more than where the liable driver was just careless. That is because the jury can provide punitive damages. Jurors also tend to be angry at drunk drivers and award higher settlements.
$70,000 Lyft Passenger Settlement For Neck Injuries
A Lyft car passenger suffered a neck injury when another driver hit his vehicle. The passenger said the crash caused his neck injury. GEICO provided the other driver’s insurance and paid $25,000 in bodily injury coverage to settle the matter.
Also, the Lyft driver’s vehicle had underinsured motorist coverage. The insurance company paid $45,000 to settle the claim.
$70,000 Pedestrian Neck Injury Settlement
A car hit a pedestrian and caused herniated discs, a broken leg, and a fractured hip. The woman said the driver did not slow down when she took a hose out of the street.
The personal injury attorney argued the driver was negligent for hitting the woman. However, the police report blamed the pedestrian for the accident.
But the woman claimed there was no traffic and it was full daylight. She also argued the driver was speeding. The driver was a 17-year old.
In the end, the insurance company settled the case for $70,000.
$39,000 Neck Pain Settlement
A driver ran a stop sign and hit a man in a pickup truck. The injured man claimed the accident made his herniated discs worse. He needed steroid injections to reduce his pain.
His personal injury attorney showed the insurance companies that the man had neck and back pain before the crash and received treatment. GEICO paid $20,000, and another company paid $19,000.
$441,000 Herniated Disc Settlement
A head-on car crash caused a driver’s herniated disc in the neck and lower back. The careless driver had no insurance. He also suffered a spinal bruise and erectile dysfunction.
The injured driver sued his uninsured motorist insurance company, Nationwide. The case settled for $441,000, with $210,000 for pain and suffering.
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Getting Maximum Compensation For Your Car Accident Neck Injury
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.
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Whiplash can occur at just 5 MPH but is more common in moderate and high-speed auto accidents with additional injuries.
You have pain that does not fade after a few days or is severe; shooting pain in the extremities; weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, and difficulty controlling bladder or bowels.
For many personal injury claims, pain and suffering compensation is often less than $15,000. However, the severity of the injury is a massive factor, and if there is surgery, compensation rises quickly.
A soft tissue injury settlement may be between $10,000 and $15,000. For more compensation, the soft tissue injury must usually be permanent.
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