Whiplash is common after car accidents, but they can be difficult to prove for compensation purposes. That is because, like most soft tissue injuries, they do not show up on X-rays and MRIs. That does not mean your whiplash injury is any less painful or legitimate than other car accident injuries. But it means if you are having discomfort, limited movement and pain in your neck, you should get immediate medical attention after the accident so your condition is documented as quickly as possible.
Remember, the insurance adjuster is not going to your word for it that you have whiplash and give you money. All losses must be as clearly documented as possible. If you can show medical records and bills that show the medical treatment you had after the accident, that will really help to show that you have whiplash or a related injury.
Value of a Whiplash Case
For the most part, damages in a whiplash case are on the smaller end of the scale. If your injury is found be a doctor to be whiplash, neck sprain or strain, it is not generally considered a serious injury. Whiplash, while painful, does not usually involve injury to the discs, which would be a more serious injury. For example, if you have medical bills totaling $5000 and $1000 in lost wages, your economic damages are $6000. That is the major category of damages to calculate. The next category is to determine is non-economic, which includes money for pain and suffering.
The auto insurance company may use a multiplier between 1.5 to 4 to value your pain and suffering for your whiplash. But there are other factors at play that can increase or decrease your damages award:
- Whether you appear to be a reliable witness
- Whether you are believable
- Whether the jury understands your neck injuries
- The nature and extent of your medical treatment
Also key is who does your medical treatments. If most of your medical treatment is done by physical therapists and chiropractors, the jury is more likely to discount your injuries. Juries and insurers think if you are really hurt, you will go to a doctor not a chiropractor.
So if you have $5000 in medical bills but $4000 was from a physical therapist, you will probably get a lot less for pain and suffering than if your doctor performed your treatments.