Whiplash Car Accident Case Values Can Vary Greatly
Far too many people suffer painful whiplash injuries due to car accidents caused by others. Distracted driving has become so common, it’s a wonder that most of us safely reach our destinations. Fortunately, most of us are can obtain proper treatment. Yet as our healing continues, we often start asking about the settlement value of our cases.
Once our law firm receives copies of a client’s medical and billing records from their treating doctors, we can then try to provide an educated guess regarding the possible value of each case. However, before that stage arrives, we must review all the facts we learned while investigating your case concerning the defendant’s liability.
At this point, it’s important to provide a general definition of a whiplash injury, its most common symptoms, how it’s treated – and why it’s so important for us to have enough strong evidence to prove that the defendant was negligently liable for your injuries.
What exactly is a whiplash injury?
Most often sustained when someone is rear-ended in a vehicle accident, a whiplash injury causes a neck strain or sprain. At the moment your vehicle is hit, the neck’s cervical muscles and nerve roots – as well as some of the spinal column’s discs, ligaments and intervertebral joints – are often greatly stretched and damaged.
The whiplash motion occurs because your neck, head and surrounding areas are usually jerked forward and backwards in a very rapid fashion. This same type of injury can also occur when your car is hit from various angles – in addition to just being rear-ended. Some of this same damage can also occur when playing a contact sport like soccer, football and hockey.
What are the most common symptoms of a whiplash injury?
Before noting some of the most frequent symptoms, it’s important to state that they may not develop immediately. Therefore, you should never assume that you’ve incurred few damages after you’re in a car accident. Many people first notice the following symptoms one or two days later.
How do most doctors diagnose and treat a whiplash injury?
X-rays, CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRIs) are often run. They help reveal the extent of any damage to the neck’s various muscles, ligaments and discs. The results of these tests provide detailed evidence of what’s causing the patient’s pain.
As for treatment, various pain relief drugs like ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) – or naproxen (Naprosyn and Aleve) – are recommended, in addition to various gentle neck exercises. In some cases, doctors will recommend different forms of physical therapy, massage, neck traction — or the application of heat and/or ice, ultrasound and pain injections.
Although it was common in the past to recommend that patients wear cervical collars to help them immobilize their necks while healing, today’s doctors recognize the benefits of careful, early movements of the neck to help it heal. During the first 24 hours after an accident, patients are encouraged to apply ice to help lessen the swelling and pain. Gentle exercises that require moving the neck can prove beneficial if they do not increase the pain.
Should a patient’s pain be extreme, an extended period of rehabilitative programs and therapies may be recommended. When OTC (over the counter) or more potent medications do little to help, a doctor may consider prescribing narcotic drugs. However, this latter approach can become dangerous if continued for too long since so many people become addicted to pain medications.
What can be done if chronic neck pain persists?
Other treatments for chronic pain can then be considered, including nerve block and trigger point injections – or some form of spinal cord stimulation. Always keep your doctor fully informed as to your needs for pain medication — while still doing everything you can to minimize your dependence on drugs. Physical therapy often helps many people recover from the deep, initial pain caused by a whiplash injury.
Please be aware that it’s not until your whiplash condition and pain issues have been largely resolved that we can finally obtain enough information from your medical and billing records to determine the settlement case value of your lawsuit. We rely heavily on your treating doctor’s current assessment and long-term prognosis when determining the correct amount we should demand on your behalf when negotiating with an insurance company adjustor (or before presenting your case at trial).
In some cases, chiropractic care, osteopathic manipulation or surgery may be recommended.
To what extent can proof of the defendant’s liability for the whiplash injury affect a case?
Our initial, thorough investigation of your case is designed to help us determine exactly who caused the accident and the immediate actions that led up to the impact. We will do all we can to locate any witnesses who might testify on your behalf and we’ll carefully analyze all available photos or drawings of the accident scene to see if they fully agree with your version of how it all took place (along with facts stated in any police report that may be available).
Should we determine that you may have been at least partially responsible for causing the accident, you must realize that this can very directly affect our settlement negotiations. If the defendant believes s/he was less responsible than you for the accident, that party’s attorney may be unwilling to settle the case.
Should we go to trial, the judge would be required to assess the proper percentages of liability for you and the other driver. You might still be entitled to recover some financial damages – but they may not be anywhere near as high if your wrongful actions played a significant role in causing the collision.
Are there any common amounts of money often awarded in whiplash injury cases?
Yes. However, as just explained above, these will always be affected by any finding by a court that you may have been partially liable for causing the accident. Nevertheless, depending on the total of all your medical treatment bills (and the reasonable cost to repair your vehicle), we often see settlement amounts ranging between about $8,000 to $15,000. If you’ve been a high wage earner and have been prevented – due to the severity of your whiplash injury – from working for about one to three months, the possible settlement amount could rise considerably.
As all our clients discover, we always try to recover a generous amount for all your losses, as set forth below. If we have ample proof that the defendant was the sole cause of your whiplash injury, then the likely settlement amount (or jury verdict) may be a bit higher.
If you’ve developed a serious whiplash injury due to a car accident caused by the negligence of another party, you need to contact our New York City whiplash car accident injury law firm. After carefully investigating all the facts of your case, we’ll fight hard to win the maximum compensation available for all your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses (past and future) and other losses directly caused by the accident.