Lawsuit Info Center / Car Accident Lawsuits / Minor and Soft Tissue Injuries

Minor and Soft Tissue Injuries

Minor Car Accident Settlements

Were you in a minor car accident with injuries? How much compensation you can receive in a minor car accident settlement depends on several factors.

What Are The Key Factors That Determine Your Minor Car Accident Settlement?

There are a few main factors that determine the amount of your minor car accident settlement:

  • The medical bills associated with treating any car accident injuries caused in the crash. 
  • The amount of damage done to your vehicle
  • Any ongoing treatments you may need, including physical therapy, massage, etc. 
  • Loss of income/wages as a result of missing work after the accident. 

If your injuries are minor, such as cuts and bruises, your odds of a big settlement are low compared to someone with broken bones or internal injuries. But that does not mean you should abandon the idea of filing a claim. You still may be eligible for compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering.

Remember that auto insurance companies dislike paying personal injury settlements, whether they are for $5,000 or $50,000. They will search for ways to deny your claim or lowball you. So having the best possible evidence of the car accident, showing the other driver was at fault, and clear documentation of your injuries are vital.

Major factors that determine a minor car accident settlement are:

Medical Bills

Medical bills comprise most of the economic (special) damages in a minor car accident settlement. This includes medical expenses you have paid and bills that have piled up. You might only be able to pay some medical bills after receiving your settlement funds. You also may be required to pay out of pocket and hope for full reimbursement later.

You medical bills settlement depends on:

  • The type of care received
  • Duration of your hospital stay
  • How you were taken to the hospital (ambulance, helicopter, etc.)
  • Whether you required surgery or long-term care
  • You may receive a higher settlement if your car accident injuries required more expensive treatments.

Lost Earnings

Lost earnings are usually a part of your minor car accident settlement. This is the money and time you lost from missing work from your injuries.

To show how much you lost in earnings, you must show pay stubs to prove to the insurance company what you were earning each month. You are not guaranteed 100% of your lost earnings, but your personal injury attorney will attempt to get you as much compensation as possible for lost work time.

Pain and Suffering

To claim pain and suffering in your minor car accident claim, you must have a physical injury that causes you pain. Any emotional damages you claim must relate to that physical injury.

Pain and suffering damages are difficult to calculate. An experienced personal injury attorney is often key to getting a fair settlement for pain and suffering. If the insurance company agrees to your pain and suffering claim, this can greatly increase your settlement.

Pain and suffering damages may include:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of consortium (inability to have an intimate relationship with partner)
  • Inability to enjoy activities you loved
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Soft Tissue Injuries Overview

Generally, minor, soft tissue injuries in car accident refer to damage to muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Contusions and abrasions are soft tissue injuries. Also included are minor sprains, 1st degree burns and herniated back disks that do not need surgery. If you are experiencing minor to moderate discomfort from a whiplash injury, this is a soft tissue injury as well. Some injuries to soft tissues, such as herniated back disks, can cause a lot of pain and can often result in large back injury settlements after a car accident.

On the other hand, a serious car accident injury is a ‘hard injury.’ This can be a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, damage to organs, severe burns and cuts, and generally injuries that require surgery and major hospital time.

Pain and Suffering and the Cause of Soft Tissue Injuries

The most common soft tissue injuries are:

Sprain: This is an injury to ligaments, which are tissues that connect your bones. Powerful car crash forces can twist or wrench ligaments and cause excruciating pain. Sprains happen when these forces cause ligaments to stretch beyond a typical range of motion. Whiplash – where the head jerks suddenly forward and backward in a car crash – is a common type of neck sprain, and whiplash settlements are among the most common car accident claims filed with insurance companies.

Strain: This is an injury to muscles or tendons. Strains happen by force, stretching, or overuse. For example, whiplash is a neck strain where the tendons stretch beyond the normal range of motion.

Tendonitis: This condition is an inflammation of one or more tendons. Tendons connect muscles to bones. This problem may happen when a part of the body is overused in repetitive motions. For example, athletes often suffer from tennis elbow and swimmer’s shoulder. However, tendonitis can happen in a car accident where terrific forces on certain tendons are direct and sudden.

Bursitis: This is inflammation of the bursa, which are sacs of fluid around muscles, bones, and tendons. Areas where bursitis flares up are in the elbow, shoulder, knee, hip, foot, and ankle. Overuse or trauma can cause this injury. A car crash can burst the bursa sac around a joint. For example, a common bursitis injury in a car accident happens when the knee slams into the dashboard.

Contusion: These are bruises. They are caused by blunt force trauma most of the time. They happen in car accidents when parts of the body strike the steering wheel, dashboard, door, and windows.

Insurance companies often downplay soft tissue injuries because they are harder to see. They may dismiss the injury entirely or not believe the car accident victim is in severe pain.

Also, soft tissue injuries are harder to see on X-rays and MRIs. Plus, as we age, ligaments and tendons show wear and tear.

These factors make diagnosing a soft tissue injury harder. You can expect an auto insurance company to challenge your demand for soft tissue injury compensation.

But a skilled personal injury attorney in your corner pays dividends. Soft tissue injuries are common in auto accidents, such as whiplash.

These injuries can have painful, long-term effects. They can prevent you from working and enjoying life. Dismissing them because they are harder to prove is unfair.

Your personal injury attorney will work with your healthcare providers to prove the severity of your soft tissue injuries. That way, you can get the money to which you are entitled for your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Soft Tissue Injury Settlement Calculator

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident causing a soft tissue or other minor injury? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Car Accident Settlement Calculator.

When Is It Worth Filing a Personal Injury Claim?

Before you decide to file a car accident claim for minor and soft tissue injuries, consider how serious the accident was and your related injuries. Is it worth the time and effort to make the claim? Dealing with auto insurance companies is a time-consuming process, especially if fault is in question. When fault is not clear cut, the other insurance company will try to pay as little as possible or will even deny the claim. If you decide to file the claim but do not have a satisfactory outcome, it may be necessary to file a car accident settlement for your minor injuries.

So, before you make the claim or file suit, consider if the injuries are worth the trouble. If you have a sprained ankle that recovers in a few days or a week, it may not be worth the hassle. On the other hand, if your soft tissue injury is whiplash and it prevents you from working for a month, you have a legitimate claim with considerable expenses. Filing a claim in that case probably makes sense.

Soft Tissue Injury Average Settlement Examples

$80,000 Soft Tissue Injury Settlement Example

Not every soft tissue injury results in low compensation. One personal injury attorney settled a whiplash claim for $80,000.

Here’s what happened. A driver rear-ended the client at a stop light. The insurance company argued the impact ‘was so minor’ it could not have caused a serious soft tissue injury.

But the attorney convinced the stubborn insurance company that the crash caused the whiplash injury.

Bottom line: It pays to have an excellent personal injury lawyer fighting for you in a soft tissue injury claim!

How To Calculate Pain and Suffering in a Minor Car Accident Settlement

You can be awarded pain and suffering compensation in a minor car accident settlement. But you will need to have strong proof of your pain and suffering to receive fair compensation. If you hire an attorney, he or she will help you prove your pain and suffering and roughly how much you may receive.

A common way to calculate pain and suffering damage is to multiply your economic damages – medical bills and lost earnings – by a multiplier from 1-5, based on how serious your injuries are. For minor injuries, the number used might be 1 or 2. So, if you have $5,000 in medical costs and your multiplier is 2, your settlement would be $10,000.

Note that a 4 or 5 multiplier is only used for more severe, long-term, or even permanent injuries, such an injury to the brain, spine, internal organs, etc.

Another way to calculate pain and suffering damages is to use a per diem method. For instance, if your physician thinks it will take you 30 days to recover, your attorney may demand $150 per day. This would provide you $4,500 in compensation for your injuries.

You can use our website’s injury settlement calculator to help calculate your pain and suffering damages.

Other Factors That Affect A Minor Car Accident Settlement

Severity of injuries and lost earnings are not the only factors that affect your minor car accident settlement. Your compensation also can be based on:

  • You got medical attention immediately after the accident or waited several weeks
  • Your accident injuries were entirely caused by the car accident, or were pre-existing injuries that the accident made worse
  • You got more medical treatments than needed, or saw a medical practitioner that the insurance company does not value, such as a chiropractor

It is vital to see a medical professional immediately after even a minor car accident. You also should see the proper healthcare professionals for treatment. If you are not sure where to go or who to see, talk to a personal injury attorney for free advice.

Minor Car Accident Settlement Amounts

Every car accident case varies, so it is difficult to provide an average settlement amount for a minor car accident.

However, statistics from Martindale Nolo Research provide some interesting numbers. The average personal injury claim is worth $52,900. Settlements and awards range from $3,000 to $75,000. If you have minor car accident injuries, you may expect a lower settlement amount, but nothing is set in stone until the case is concluded at the settlement table or trial.

Minor Car Accident Settlements in No-Fault States

Most states have a fault-based liability system after any car accident. The person who caused the accident is found negligent and is financially responsible for damages stemming from the crash.

However, there are currently 12 states that have a ‘no-fault’ standard. You cannot make a personal injury claim in these states that involve pain and suffering compensation unless your medical costs cross a certain amount. This amount varies by state. Other states mandate that you meet their threshold of a ‘serious’ injury.

No-fault states at this time are:

For the other states, as long as you can prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, you can recover compensation, including pain and suffering money.

How to Get the Best Soft Injury Settlement

Soft tissue injuries cannot be easily seen on an X-ray so getting a successful claim requires you to have very good documentation of the injury from a medical professional. What you need to do to maximize your soft tissue injury settlement is to convince the auto insurance company that you are likely to win at trial. You do this by showing proof the accident happened in a certain way where the defendant was clearly at fault. Also, you should have testimony from a medical professional or other expert that your soft tissue injury is a typical injury for that minor accident type.

If there are higher damages at stake, such as in a herniated disk case, you could need to have expert witnesses to provide testimony in a legal deposition. But in a smaller case, you probably have done enough if you have clear written proof from the doctor or expert about your minor injuries.

Remember that soft tissue injuries such as whiplash are almost always viewed skeptically by insurance companies. The injury may be very painful, but absent clear proof, the insurance company will try to argue that you are exaggerating your pain. You can counter this by having extensive documentation from your doctor about your whiplash and the pain it is causing you. For this reason, it is very important to be seen by a doctor right away after the accident so that your whiplash is clearly documented from the start.

Minor Car Accident Settlement Letter Essentials

If you have decided to settle your minor car accident injury case, negotiations commence with a demand letter. If you have hired an attorney, he or she will handle this for you. But if you are handling your minor accident injury case on your own, there are some essentials to remember.

To write an effective demand letter, you should have the following accident documentation to refer to and include in your letter:

  • Medical records and bills
  • Receipts for your out-of-pocket costs
  • An employer letter stating your lost wages and monthly salary
  • Police accident report
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Video and pictures of the accident and injuries

Your demand letter needs to be high quality, free of grammatical mistakes, and based on the above documentation. It should include:

Statement of facts: Describe the situation just before, during, and after the accident

Liability: You must prove that the other driver caused the accident with the above evidence. If liability is unclear, it is strongly recommended to hire a personal injury attorney.

Injuries: List your injuries in detail, as well as the physical and mental pain you have suffered.

Damages: A tally of costs that include your economic and non economic (pain and suffering) damages.

Is It Worth It To Pursue a Minor Car Accident Settlement?

Before you pursue a minor car accident claim, it is important to think about how serious your injuries are, factoring in the time and effort it takes to settle a claim. Working with an auto insurance company is time-consuming and stressful, especially if the other driver’s insurer is involved.

If you cannot resolve your accident claim with the insurance company, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of an attorney. Litigation takes time and money, and you may have to give a deposition, which is more stress.

Before you file a claim or a lawsuit, consider whether your minor car accident injuries are worth the trouble. If you bruised your elbow or sprained your wrist, it may not be worth the effort.

However, if you have thousands in medical bills and your life has been turned upside down, you definitely should file a claim.

Talk To An Attorney For Free About Your Minor Car Accident Settlement

If you have been in a minor car accident and wonder whether you should file a claim, the first step is to review your case for free with a qualified personal injury attorney. There is no cost for this service, and you can find a qualified attorney on our website for your complimentary case review.

FAQ About rear end car accidents

Soft Tissue Injury Settlements

In most car accident cases where the injured person makes a claim or files a lawsuit, the plaintiff wants to recover expenses for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. But in a case where the injuries are minor, there is the question of whether it is worth filing a claim or lawsuit. 

In most cases where this is property damage and minor injuries, you would still file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to pay for your car repairs and medical expenses. If you live in a no-fault state, you would file that claim with your own auto insurance carrier. 

Car Accident Settlement

The major question in a car accident with minor injuries is whether you should attempt to collect pain and suffering damages. Pain and suffering is the physical and emotional pain that is associated with the car accident and the injuries you suffered. For example, if a driver is seriously burned in a car crash, the driver would probably receive pain and suffering compensation for enduring the pain of the burn, the treatment, the discomfort caused, and limitations placed on the person’s lifestyle. 

But in a case with minor injuries, it may be difficult to claim pain and suffering. Most insurance companies use a multiplier system to calculate what your pain and suffering is worth. They add up your medical expenses and lost earnings, and then multiply that figure by a number between 1 and 5. For minor injuries, you would probably use a 1 multiplier. And if the injuries are minor enough, the insurance company may question paying pain and suffering damages at all. 

Car Accident Lawsuit

Before you decide to pursue a claim with minor injuries, you should consider how serious the injuries are, in light of the effort and time it takes to make the claim. Dealing with a hostile auto insurance company can be a pain. You can attempt to negotiate a settlement for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and property damage with the insurance company, but trying for pain and suffering damages could be challenging without an attorney. 

If you cannot resolve your claim with the auto insurance company, you may need to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit. 

Before you go that far, consider if your injury is worth it. If you bruised your knee or sprained your ankle in the accident and have limited medical expenses and no lost work time, it may not be worth the hassle to even file a claim. But if you have hundreds of dollars of medical bills and you missed work time, you should file a claim. 

Car Accident Settlement

Of course, if you have any questions about whether to file a claim or lawsuit, you always can run your case by a personal injury attorney. They can recommend if it is worth filing a claim on your own or not. They also can tell you if it would be beneficial to file a claim or lawsuit using an attorney. They will not take a case where there is little possibility of obtaining a sizable settlement or verdict, so you can rely on the opinion of a skilled personal injury attorney in this matter. 

A car accident is a car accident no matter how minor. Now, the severity of the accident comes into play when dealing with the damage to your vehicle and the injuries you suffered. But, what if a minor accident led to minor injuries? Don’t you think you should still be compensated for those injuries even though the crash was deemed to be minor? Of course you should. So, what’s a fair settlement for a minor car accident?

A minor car accident could very well wind up costing you a small amount of money for health and repair costs, but you should be able to recoup that money when you are not the person responsible for the crash. A settlement for a minor car crash could wind up being in the thousands of dollars depending on your injuries, the nature of the crash, and the damage that was caused.

It is nearly impossible to predict the settlement value of a minor car accident without moving forward with a lawsuit or claim. That’s why you should always have an attorney by your side when involved in even the most minor of car accidents. Minor car accident settlements can be as little as $50,000 and as high as $350,000. When all is said and done, your settlement value could very well be triple what your injuries cost to treat at the hospital.

The quickest answer to this question is yes. You always need a lawyer for a soft tissue injury sustained in a car accident. The bottom line with car accidents is that you should always contact an attorney when you’ve been involved in one, whether or not you were injured or even transported to the hospital. Consulting with an attorney immediately protects your rights and helps you build a case against the at-fault driver.

When you talk to a lawyer after a car accident, he or she will immediately begin investigating the crash. A lawyer will request the police report, your medical records, and any other evidence that can help mount a case against those responsible. A lawyer will also encourage you to follow the doctor’s orders, seek the proper treatment, and help you build your injury diary following the crash. This diary can be helpful in explaining how serious your soft tissue injuries are.

It can be difficult to prove the presence of a soft tissue injury following a car accident, which is why a lawyer will be helpful. You might need more than just objective evidence because the damage to your vehicle might have been minor and these injuries do not appear on x-rays or other medical tests. An attorney will be able to negotiate a settlement with either your insurance company or the insurer of the responsible driver.

If all else fails, an attorney will be able to file a proper lawsuit against the at-fault driver and then represent you in court as you fight for compensation.

Soft tissue settlements are difficult to pinpoint an average amount of compensation the victim may receive. Typically, soft tissue injuries are the most common type of injuries sustained in a car accident. Since most soft tissue injuries don’t show up on x-rays or MRI scans, and don’t have the “shock value” of stitches, casts, or massive bruising & swelling. As a result of this, insurance companies to decrease the car accident settlement offers for soft tissue injuries.

Because of this, soft tissue injuries are difficult to prove, leading many insurance adjusters to think or accuse claimants of exaggerating their injuries. If you’ve suffered a soft tissue injury in a car accident, be sure to to meticulously document and record any and all medical records – this will help prove the seriousness of your soft tissue injuries solidify your claim. Soft tissue settlements differ depending on various different factors.

Some examples of average soft tissue settlements after car accidents include:

Ordinarily the word “soft” makes one think it’s a minor or light issue. A soft tissue injury can be much greater than a “light” injury. Often, a soft tissue injury can evolve into a severe injury leaving you disable from everyday tasks and may lead to surgery for repair or even leave you with permanent damage. A herniated disc is considered a soft tissue injury. Some soft tissue injuries such as herniated or bulging discs can cause severe physical pain and have a lengthy recovery time. Herniated discs are common in car accidents due to the unnatural, sudden movements your body will experience from the violent impact of the collision.  You will typically experience extreme back pain, typically to the lower back, and oftentimes will pinch the sciatic nerve leaving you with a pain running all the way down one leg and possibly reaching the foot.

Soft tissue injuries can occur when an unforeseen sudden maneuver tweaks and damages the tissue surrounding bone structures and organs. In other words, soft tissue injuries are a result of damage to the muscles, ligaments and tendons. These types of injuries will leave you experiencing pain along with swelling and bruising. Soft tissue injuries include:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Torn ligaments
  • Contusions or bruising
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis

Soft tissue damage can be permanent! Generally, a serious strain or sprain will require surgery leaving the victim with a lengthy recovery oftentimes never fully recovering. The pooling of blood on soft tissue as a result from the internal bleeding can also cause permanent damage.

In the event that someone else’s negligent driving has caused you to become injured, it would be wise of you to seek legal advice and discuss options with a personal injury attorney.  Regardless of how minor you may think your wounds may be, if you have sustained any injuries to where you have sought out medical treatment, it’s possible you may have cause for a claim. It’s frequent that individuals believe their injuries are too minor to seek legal advice but isn’t until they consult with a personal injury attorney that they understand how much their case is actually worth. Often times a victim’s injuries may be dormant for a brief moment but over time begin to worsen. It’s crucial to recognize that there is a statute of limitations in which you are able to file a personal injury claim and most states require it to be done so within 2 years. So, don’t postpone seeking legal advice if you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of others.

Car Accident Settlement

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About Graham Bersche, JD

A graduate of Trinity Law School in Southern California, Graham Bersche has experience as a paralegal, negotiator, and legal writer. He lives in Los Angeles and is passionate about helping people who’ve been injured in car accidents to understand the laws governing their situations and learn how to maximize their car accident settlements.