Whiplash is not an actual diagnosis, but instead a term used for a collection of symptoms and injuries that a person may sustain in a motor vehicle accident. Typically, whiplash refers to soft tissue injuries that involve the neck and shoulders. Whiplash is caused by violent movements where the neck jerks back and forth (in a whipping motion) in a car accident. It is most common in rear-end collisions, but can occur in front-end collisions and other types of accidents as well.
The main symptoms of whiplash may vary, but often include stiffness in the neck or upper back, shoulder pain or stiffness, dizziness, headaches, recurring migraines, burning or itching sensations in the neck and shoulders and in some severe cases, memory loss or sleep issues.
Determining Damages for Whiplash
If you have been diagnosed as suffering from whiplash injuries, you are entitled to compensation. However, it is important to note that proving whiplash injuries is not as easy as lacerations or broken bones. That is because whiplash cannot be seen on an x-ray or traditional MRI. In order for an attorney to value your whiplash claim, they will need to determine how reliable the doctor’s diagnosis is and if a judge or jury would reward you for your injuries.
There are two types of damages that can be awarded in a whiplash injury claim:
- Compensatory damages – which are an exact calculation of your injuries and losses
- Punitive damages – which are awarded only when the defendant’s actions are malicious, intentional or require punishment by the court
What Is My Whiplash Case Worth?
Damages in a whiplash case are typically small unless there are other injuries and damages being calculated as well. Whiplash doesn’t typically involve spinal cord damage; therefore, there are not long-term damages associated with these types of claims.
Insurance companies will use a multiplier to determine how much your particular whiplash injury is worth, which can range from 1.5 to 4. If, however, your case goes to trial, then a jury would not use the multiplier to figure a proper settlement. Instead, they would use other factors to increase or decrease the damages awarded. Some of these factors include:
- If the plaintiff’s statement is believable
- If the plaintiff has a criminal record or history of filing similar claims
- If the plaintiff has enough medical documentation and proof to legitimize their injury claims
- If the plaintiff’s injuries are easily understood
- The extent of the plaintiff’s medical treatment and prognosis
Filing a Claim Early is Important
Immediately after you have been diagnosed with whiplash, it is important that you contact an attorney and file your claim with the other party’s insurance company. Doing so will help prove that you have a legitimate injury. Waiting several weeks to report the injury may give insurance adjusters the opportunity to dispute the facts of your injury or even deny a settlement.
Also, document your medical expenses throughout the process. This includes any ER copays and costs you have paid out of pocket, treatment expenses and medication costs. Showing out of pocket expenses related to your injury and the accident will strengthen your claim as well – and also make it easier for your attorney to appropriately calculate your damages.
If you have been injured in a car accident and suffer from whiplash injuries, contact Hancock Injury Attorneys. We offer free consultations and can assist you with your case. Schedule your appointment at 813-534-6463 or fill out an online contact form with your questions.