Car accidents remain a leading cause of serious injury and death across the United States.
In fact, in 2016, the most recent year with statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute, Texas had the highest number of fatal crashes out of any state.
If you were capable of getting out of your car and walking away after a crash, you might feel lucky to have only suffered minor injuries instead of something permanently debilitating.
However, some of the most debilitating and painful injuries you can suffer in a car accident may not present symptoms immediately. Brain injuries are a perfect example. It may take days or weeks for symptoms to fully materialize.
The same is true of whiplash; a common soft tissue injury people develop after a collision. You may not know right after a collision that there was a soft tissue injury to your neck. It may be hours or even a few days before symptoms fully manifest.
While whiplash is less serious than a compound fracture or spinal injury, it is still a debilitating medical condition, which is why some victims choose to seek whiplash injury compensation.
If you have been injured in a car wreck and need medical attention or have questions about your personal injury case, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers for a free case evaluation today.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash injuries are essentially a strain of the neck muscles. The jerking, abrupt motions people in a vehicle experience during an accident can cause their head to move from side to side or back to front violently. That powerful motion can cause tearing or straining of the neck muscles and tendons. Those strains of the neck then result in inflammation and stiffness or pain.
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain when moving the head
- An inability to fully turn or lift the head
- Soreness and tension in the neck and upper shoulders
- Headaches that begin in the base of the skull and may persist for days
- Ringing in the ears (called tinnitus)
Whiplash is a painful condition, but thankfully, it will heal over time. In mild-to-moderate cases, it may take anywhere from several weeks to several months for the body to heal the injuries and the injured party to return to a fully active life.
More severe cases can last many months and may require rehabilitative support, such as physical therapy.
How Does Whiplash Affect Your Daily Life?
Whiplash often has an immediate impact on your daily life experience. The pain in your neck and shoulders will likely limit how much activity you can undertake. From preventing you from exercising and enjoying hobbies to keeping you from your job, whiplash can have very serious consequences.
The pain of whiplash can even make it impossible for you to get restful sleep, which can affect your mental acuity and quality of life. Those with whiplash may not be able to provide basic self-care for themselves or fulfill the obligations of their jobs.
The impact of chronic, serious pain can also impact a person’s mood or personality over time. Those consequences can result in financial costs to the victim through both lost wages and the need for medical treatment, which is why many people look for a whiplash settlement after a soft tissue neck injury.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Whiplash?
In most cases of whiplash, doctors can diagnose the patient with a manual and verbal examination. Determining that there has been a traumatic movement that could result in an injury is an important first step. An x-ray may be necessary to rule out any injuries to the bones of the neck.
From there, the doctor will physically examine and manipulate the impacted muscles and tendons. The inflammation and stiffness are usually apparent, combining that with the patient’s self-reported pain level helps the doctor to confirm a diagnosis.
In some cases, additional imaging tests may be necessary. In cases that may involve nerve damage or pinched nerves, for example, soft-tissue imaging technology may be requested to ensure that treatment will not exacerbate any symptoms related to nerve damage.
Why Do People Seek Compensation for Whiplash Injuries?
Given that whiplash is an injury that will heal over time, some people find it surprising that whiplash victims seek compensation.
However, anyone who has experienced the pain of a neck strain would understand how serious an injury it may be, even if it does heal.
While the injury is actively healing, the victim with whiplash will experience pain, reduced functionality, and reduced overall quality of life. If the injury is severe enough or their job is demanding enough, they may also miss many days or even weeks of work.
Combine those lost opportunities for income with extensive medical bills for both trauma care and physical therapy or other rehabilitative services, and you can quickly see how whiplash creates financial hardship for its victims.
What Impacts the Average Whiplash Settlement Amount?
The average settlement for whiplash offered by an insurance company may only just barely cover the medical costs or lost wages of the victim. Several different considerations impact how much an insurance company will offer in an initial whiplash settlement.
For one thing, they will look at the maximum coverage under the policy of the other driver. Depending on how much insurance the responsible driver has, the settlement offer could be well below the actual cost of the injury.
Even if the other driver has good insurance, the first settlement offer may be very low.
Many times, insurance companies will do everything in their power to limit how much they pay out to victims of car crash injuries.
It’s important to remember that even if the other driver has a policy through the same insurance company, you are not a customer.
You become a financial liability.
Insurance companies all-too-often offer offensively low initial whiplash settlements to victims. These low settlement offers may barely cover the victim’s medical insurance deductible, for example. The amount may not be enough to offset ongoing medical costs or lost wages, because there are no state whiplash settlement guidelines.
Each case results in a unique outcome as far as compensation amounts are concerned. Instead of settling for what others believe is appropriate compensation in your case, you should speak with an attorney who can help you put a more accurate price on your injury.
How Can a Lawyer Help You Secure a Whiplash Settlement?
The financial motives of insurance companies are the real reason why you need an attorney to handle any whiplash injury claim. Unless you are a professional negotiator, you could easily get tricked into agreeing to something from an insurance adjuster who uses underhanded and high-pressure tactics.
You could also mistakenly believe that what the insurance company has to offer you is the best offer you will receive.
Personal injury attorneys who have experience recovering financial losses for injured parties know what a reasonable, average whiplash settlement amount is.
We can review your medical records and the severity of your injury and help you determine what a reasonable amount of compensation is. More importantly, your attorney can then manage the entire process of negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf.
That way, you can focus on healing instead of on money and dealing with the insurance company.
Texas Approves Pain and Suffering Compensation for Whiplash Victims
When you don’t know your legal rights, you may not utilize them fully.
Texas victims of whiplash may not know all of their rights under state law. Texas is one of many states that allow for intangible damages in personal injury cases.
In other words, you can seek financial compensation for injuries that don’t have a demonstrable price attached.
Pain and suffering claims fall into this category.
The more severe injury and the pain it causes, the better the chance you have of successfully seeking pain and suffering settlements for whiplash in a Texas personal injury case. It can be quite difficult to put a price on your pain, but your attorney can help you with that task.
Compensation for Whiplash from a Car Accident
Just because the state of Texas does not have whiplash settlement guidelines doesn’t mean you have to settle for less compensation than you deserve.
In many cases, mild to moderate whiplash claims can result in anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 worth of compensation.
In more severe cases, including intractable, persistent pain or nerve injuries that result from the initial neck strain, the average settlement is likely to be closer to $30,000.
If you also intend to seek a pain and suffering settlement for whiplash, that could increase the overall value of your claim.
Working with an attorney to obtain the compensation you need is likely a wise decision. Hutchison & Stoy can help you negotiate with insurance companies, navigate the complex court system, and accurately place a value on the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the whiplash injury you sustained.
Before you accept a settlement or begin discussing the terms of one with an insurance company, make sure you have legal representation for yourself. After all, you’ll need solid advice to make good decisions, and everyone benefits from having someone advocate for their best interests after a crash.
Contact Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC.
After a car wreck or a truck wreck, you will be faced with a number of decisions.
The lawyers at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC are here to help.
Call us at (817) 820-0100 or submit a free case evaluation.