In Arizona, car accidents injure more than 150 people every day. Neck and back injuries account for the majority of these injuries—especially whiplash. Healing from whiplash while balancing the mounting pressure of medical bills and lost wages can be exhausting.
If you’ve suffered whiplash in an accident, you deserve compensation. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the average settlement payout for whiplash injury, as well as whether or not you should seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
What Is The Average Whiplash Lawsuit Settlement Amount?
Whiplash, also referred to as whiplash-associated disorder (WAD), occurs when a force of impact tears sensitive ligaments in the neck. Though whiplash is most common in auto accidents, it can result from any trauma that causes the neck to jerk back and forth. A blow to the head or even a slip and fall accident can cause whiplash.
If you’ve experienced whiplash, there’s no way of knowing exactly how much you may receive in a whiplash settlement. Data from recent years show average whiplash lawsuit settlement amounts for minor neck and back injuries range from $10,000 to $100,000. For more life-altering whiplash injuries or permanent disability, injury settlement amounts range from $1 million to $5 million. A free consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you understand how much your case may be worth.
3 Factors That Impact the Average Settlement Payout for Whiplash Injury
Several factors determine the average compensation for whiplash injury. The most prominent factors that impact the settlement value are the severity of the injury, the timeline for healing, and the monetary value of required medical treatment.
1. The Severity of The Injury
Whiplash is an umbrella term for a neck injury caused by rapid head movement. The injury can be minor and only present minor symptoms of whiplash, such as shoulder pain or neck stiffness. But in more severe cases, whiplash can cause serious injury and a higher settlement amount.
Consider instances in which whiplash causes broken bones or chronic pain. In addition to being more severe, these injuries also take much longer to heal. Where bruises can heal in a few weeks, a broken bone could take several months to a year. Not to mention, more serious injuries can affect a victim permanently and require life-long care.
Similarly, auto accidents can lead to numerous whiplash-related injuries that can increase the settlement value of a case:
- Delayed neck and back pain
- Bulging or herniated disc
- Soft tissue injury, such as a strain
- Spinal cord injury
- Chronic back or neck pain
2. Medical Bills and Lost Wages
Medical expenses and lost wages mount quickly for a severe whiplash injury. Immediately after the injury, an accident victim must receive medical attention, such as x-rays, MRIs, and/or other costly exams to diagnose the whiplash. Then medical treatment, like surgery and/or physical therapy, is required to alleviate the pain and help heal the injury.
Overall, a victim can spend thousands of dollars on a whiplash claim. An accident victim with higher medical bills will likely receive more compensation. Additionally, more time spent in the hospital or doctor’s office means less time spent at work. That’s why whiplash victims are also compensated for lost wages.
A whiplash settlement can compensate victims for how long they were out of work, as well as any unpaid expenses during their recovery. For example, if you experienced a severe neck or back injury that affected your earning capacity (either short-term or permanently), this factor would be taken into account in the final payout.
3. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a phrase used to describe the negative impacts of an accident. As opposed to being a physical dollar amount, pain and suffering refer to emotional, mental, and physical damages.
Examples of pain and suffering include:
- Inability to attend important events or milestones
- Inability to participate in hobbies or daily activities
- Inability to help family around the house
- Inability to play with children or grandchildren
- Inability to interact with a partner
During the duration of a case, it’s up to the victim and their legal counsel to prove pain and suffering. The insurance company or trial judge then qualifies the victim’s pain and suffering on a scale of 1 to 5, based on the severity of the injury and its impact on the victim’s daily life.
That number is then multiplied by the total amount of the victim’s medical expenses. The final number is pain and suffering amount. The more pain and suffering an accident victim endured, the higher their settlement value.
Who Pays the Whiplash Settlement in an Auto Accident?
After a motor vehicle accident, the insurance company and/or the at-fault driver can pay a whiplash settlement. Whiplash injury claims are generally filed after the victim attempts to secure necessary funds from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If you are a victim of whiplash, and you did not receive enough to cover medical costs, lost wages, property damage, and other expenses, you have a legal right to demand the funds by filing a lawsuit.
Receiving a Payout from an Insurance Company for Your Whiplash Claim
To receive a payout from an insurance company for your whiplash injury claim, you must send the company a formal demand letter describing your damages. Work alongside a trusted car accident attorney to compile all expenses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Then leave it up to your attorney to gather evidence of the other driver’s negligence. Car accident reports, footage of the crash, and eye-witness testimony can help shape your case against the at-fault driver.
In severe whiplash cases, expert witnesses may testify for your pain and suffering. Close friends and family members may also be asked to attest to your damages.
All related evidence, as well as proof of your expenses, is delivered to the insurance company for a verdict. In the case the insurance policy does not have sufficient funds or the company denies your insurance claim, you must file a lawsuit to receive your payout.
Filing a Lawsuit Against an At-Fault Party for Your Whiplash Claim
After being rejected or receiving minimal funds from the insurance company, the next step is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To win your lawsuit, you and your attorney must prove theproximate cause of the accident was the other driver’s negligence.
Consider the example of a rear-end collision. Imagine you were stopped at a red light when a speeding car failed to slow down behind you. The at-fault driver slammed into the back of your vehicle, causing severe whiplash injuries. Your attorney must prove the at-fault driver acted negligently by speeding and that their action caused your injuries.
In this hypothetical accident case, the ability of your attorney to prove negligence—and how negligent the at-fault driver was—would affect your whiplash injury payout.
Factors such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering all affect the car accident settlement.
How to Provide Proof of a Whiplash Injury
It is paramount you receive medical attention immediately after a whiplash injury. Not only can medical treatment help alleviate your pain and ensure your overall safety, but medical records provide a foundation for your whiplash case. You may be asked to show proof of the accident injury during the discovery process. To provide proof of a whiplash injury, you must visit a medical professional to diagnose and document all present damage.
After receiving medical attention, consult with a personal injury law firm to determine if the other driver was at fault. A car accident attorney will analyze factors of the accident, including speed, weather conditions, and traffic conditions.
They may also consult with expert witnesses to describe the impact whiplash had on your career and personal life. Combined with appropriate medical documentation, this attorney-client relationship can prove whiplash after a car crash.
Speak with an Attorney About Your Whiplash Settlement Offer
Enduring whiplash is painful enough—don’t attempt to receive compensation on your own. A proven personal injury law firm can work with you to ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your accident injuries.