If you have suffered whiplash as the result of a motor vehicle accident, you should seek medical attention as well as the advice of a qualified and dedicated motor vehicle accident attorney. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your physical injuries, damage to you vehicle, lost wages and more.
Don’t delay, as the more time that passes after your accident, the more difficult it can be for an attorney to fight for financial compensation. Witnesses to your accident can go missing or forget what they saw and you may even be locked out of court through a statute of limitations if you wait too long to assert your legal rights.
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Car accident whiplash is one of the most common injuries that occurs in auto accidents, typically resulting in a neck and/or back injury. Below are common accidents that cause car accident whiplash, info on whiplash settlement amounts, and what to do if you think you have whiplash from a car accident.
- Car Accident Whiplash Injury Causes – Whiplash is a very common injury and can occur days or even weeks after the accident. It happens when a car is hit, causing the body to jerk forward quickly. The head usually trails by a second, causing injuries the muscles and soft tissue in the neck. Most commonly, whiplash occurs when someone if rear ended or hit from behind. These accidents are typically easy to prove fault, as the person who did the rear ending is almost always at fault.
- Average Whiplash Settlements:While average settlement amounts vary, the nationwide average is somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 for neck injuries in car accidents. Severe neck injuries or neck injuries in conjunction with concussions or other brain injuries have settled for 6 and 7 figure sums.
- What to do if you think you have whiplash: First things first, go to your doctor! They can tell you if you do in fact have whiplash or not, and make a proper medical diagnosis. If it turns out that you do have whiplash, it’s a good idea to get any proof of your accident and injuries (medical bills, prescriptions, police and eyewitness reports, pictures of the cars, etc). In almost all cases, it’s also good to speak with an attorney who can take the specific information about your case and injury, apply it to local laws regarding car accidents, and give you a much more informed answer about what your case may be worth and what steps you should take next.
Because these types of injuries can vary so greatly in their severity and average compensation amount, we always recommend that you discuss your options with a local attorney. All the lawyers in our network offer a free initial consultation in which you can discuss the specific details of your situation and go over your options.
The benefit of working with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with these types of cases, is that they have negotiated car accident settlements and know how to talk to insurance companies, who are trained and compensated to pay you as little as possible. A good attorney can argue for more money for loss of income, ongoing medical treatments, and maximize the amount of compensation you get for your pain and suffering.
Average Car Accident Whiplash Settlements
What is the average whiplash settlement? The answer to this question depends on a multitude of factors… but mainly how fast you or the other vehicle was traveling at the time of the accident or impact. Speed plays a huge factor in auto accidents and in general, the harder you’re the hit, the more severe your injuries will be. On the other hand, even the slightest impact to the front, rear, or side of your vehicle can cause your body to sustain a whiplash injury. Other common factors that go into your whiplash injury settlement will include whether you have suffered an injury like this in the past, the damage to your vehicle, and the amount of time you treated with a physician or medical provider.
After you get into a car accident people generally suffer from immediate whiplash injuries. Whiplash injuries occur when there is a sudden deceleration of force to your body. Your body experiences this type of injury when you strike another from behind, or when another driver hits you from behind. After you get into a car accident you should call an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your settlement for whiplash injuries.
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How To Calculate An Average Whiplash Settlement
What is the average settlement payout for whiplash injury? Every case is different and will settle for a different value. Generally, the more severe your whiplash injuries are, the more compensation you will receive. Assuming the other driver was at fault, you’re probably going to get compensated for the following:
- Initial Medical Bills
- Ongoing Medical Treatment (Chiropractic care is generally needed when recovering from a whiplash injury)
- Loss of income
- Pain & Suffering
- Property Damage
For example, let’s say you were just rear-ended by another driver while stopped at a red light. The other driver was traveling at a speed of 10 miles-per-hour and didn’t hit the brakes before impact. You suffered a whiplash injury to your back and neck and experienced the immediate onset of pain. You began treating with a chiropractor for three months after the accident and you incurred ongoing medical bills that totaled $5,000 dollars. In a case such as the above, the injured party will most likely receive between $8,000 to $15,000 for the medical portion of the whiplash settlement.
Now let’s say you couldn’t work for a month, and you make $10,000 per month, and your car repair bills were $2,000. You’re now looking at total damages in the range of $21,000 -$28,000.
Based on the severity of injury and its impact on your day to day life, insurance companies will often also multiply the amount of your medical bills by a number between 1 and 5 to account for pain & suffering and negative effects on your lifestyle, such as not being able to do the things you enjoy, help your family around the house, play with your kids, etc.
The number you get depends on the factors involved in your individual case, will obviously go a long way in getting you the biggest auto accident settlement possible for your whiplash lawsuit. This is probably the biggest reason to speak with an experienced attorney following your car accident whiplash injury – $25,000 multiplied by 2 is a big number, but $25,000 multiplied by 5 is a much bigger number.
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Whiplash injuries can be serious and cause long term, debilitating effects and symptoms. If you have a whiplash injury to your neck, there is a chance that you will require extensive medical treatment for the damage done to your spine and neck from your whiplash injury. Thus, your medical bills will be higher, and your case will ultimately settle for a higher value then someone who was, for example, tapped from behind by a driver going 1 mile-per-hour. If you were involved in a car accident and are suffering from a whiplash injury, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Your attorney will get you setup with doctors who will treat your whiplash injuries and get you on your way to receiving your whiplash injury settlement.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What causes whiplash?
Lots of accidents can cause whiplash, from a slip and fall to a sports injury, but the most common cause of whiplash injuries is auto accidents. As it pertains to a car accident, the most common cause of whiplash is a rear ended accident, where one car hits another from behind. When this happens, the impact of one car striking another from behind causes the body, followed by the head, to jerk violently forward and then back in a whipping motion, putting severe stress on the neck muscles. Whiplash can sometimes be caused by a side impact (t-bone accident) or a head on collision, but the sudden forward to backward motion caused by a rear end car accident is much more common. In most cases, whiplash will go away on its own within a couple of months, but severe cases of whiplash can last months or even years, and may require surgery.
How long does whiplash last after a car accident?
The recovery time from a car accident induced whiplash injury can vary depending on the severity of the accident/injury, but in general, most whiplash injuries last a few days in minor cases, to 2-3 months for more severe injuries.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, chronic whiplash is defined as a severe type of whiplash lasting longer than 6-12 months.
The treatment for most whiplash injuries is time, ice, physical therapy, massage, and chiropractic care, which can help speed the recovery process for many people.
How long does it take for whiplash symptoms to appear?
One of the challenges with whiplash and related neck injuries is symptoms may not appear immediately. Car accidents are ‘exciting’ in the physiological sense. Your body produces adrenaline and endorphins right after the accident and may block pain temporarily. Many car accidents can produce a feeling of higher energy and lack of pain. But just because you do not feel whiplash symptoms after the accident does not mean you won’t ever.
Once the release of adrenaline and endorphins fades, you may start to experience neck pain. Most people will begin to feel symptoms within 24 to 72 hours. Therefore, it is vital to visit the ER or doctor immediately after the car accident. You should be checked out by a medical professional to check for accident injuries, including whiplash. If you wait several days to see a doctor when the neck pain begins, this can complicate a future personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. The other party may argue that your neck pain is unrelated to the accident.
The medical professional should be able to determine if you have a whiplash injury or not from the car accident, even if you do not have major symptoms at present. The doctor will generate a medical report where your injury will be documented. This document will be critical to a future claim.
What does whiplash feel like?
The major pain symptoms of whiplash are neck and upper back pain. The pain may start immediately after the accident or take days or even weeks later. Symptoms of whiplash can vary dramatically from one person to another, but usually include one or more of the following:
- Neck and upper back tightness or spasms.
- Pain when you move your head and neck; can be accompanied by headache and dizziness, which are common signs of a concussion.
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing. You also may be hoarse, which points to an esophagus or larynx injury.
- Abnormal sensations in the extremities such as burning or tingling; these symptoms suggest a neck injury affecting nerves that radiate throughout the body.
- Shoulder and/or upper back pain
If you have suffered severe whiplash in a high-speed accident, you may also have injury to your intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles and nerves of the upper back and neck.
What are some symptoms of whiplash from a rear end collision?
One of the most common causes of whiplash in a car accident is a rear end collision. If you are stopped at a traffic light and are hit from behind, you probably are not expecting it. There might be only minor damage or none at all. But you still may feel pain in the upper back and neck. Or, you may have a headache or feel dizzy. But the next day, you could feel a lot of stiffness and pain in your neck. Why did this happen?
When you are sitting in the car, usually your head is right over your shoulders. But when you are hit from behind, the impact is unexpected, and your torso will move in one direction, but your head will not follow right away; it will go in the other direction. The torso will snap against the seat back and your head when be yanked back. So, there are two times in a rear end crash where the neck may be hyperextended. This may cause you serious pain immediately or it may take a few hours or days to appear. Regardless, you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible to confirm if you have whiplash.
Are there long-term effects of whiplash?
Injuries from whiplash can last days, weeks, months or even years. It depends upon how severe the neck injury was that damaged tissues in your neck and upper back. Some car accident victims report experiencing long term neck pain and/or headaches that can last for years. The nagging pain can be caused by damage to your ligaments, discs and neck joints.
Long term symptoms from whiplash can occur even in relatively minor car accidents where the speed was only 10 MPH. Also, keep in mind that even in a low speed crash at 8 MPH, your head will move approximately 18 inches, and the force can be up to 7 G’s in less than ¼ of a second. Common symptoms of long term whiplash are jaw pain, severe headaches, difficulty sleeping, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, memory problems and irritability.
Can whiplash cause neurological problems?
Yes. There can be serious injuries from whiplash that can cause neurological problems. A car accident at higher speeds can cause disc and nerve damage, which can cause problems in other parts of the body, as well as neck and back pain that may be severe.
Some patients report they have tingling sensations in their hands and/or feet after a car accident. This can be caused by nerve damage in the neck from whiplash. This is referred to as radiculopathy, which is the medical term for irritation or compression of nerves in the spinal column. It is most common in the lower back and neck.
Car accidents also can cause a pinched nerve in the neck or spine; this is often a side effect of whiplash and can cause serious pain.
Can whiplash cause arthritis?
Whiplash can lead to arthritis in some patients. Car accidents that affect the neck can irritate and even tear loose connective tissue in the neck and upper back. This can create weakness that allows the spine to break down faster due to misalignment. The longer your spine is misaligned, the more the neck and spine will wear down joints, discs and muscles.
Some doctors who see car accident victims have found that X-rays show that many have disc disease and arthritis in the neck. This research suggests it is certainly possible that the whiplash injury and resulting disability such as arthritis could be related to each other.
It is important to have your neck pain diagnosed as soon as you can after the accident, so treatment can begin.
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