Hillsboro resident Jacob Whitmore allegedly hit motorcycle rider Blake Ball from behind, causing the latter to suffer whiplash injuries. According to the probable-cause statement, the victim’s Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 incurred damages totaling $7,800. The settlement for whiplash injuries may cover costs for vehicle repair, the victim’s hospitalization, and therapy.
Ball’s case is a common incident in the US. More than 1.2 million people suffer whiplash injuries annually, though some acquire it through events other than car accidents.
Whiplash injuries are relatively minor health issues that do not threaten patients’ lives. However, the symptoms can be debilitating and cause inconvenience to the victims. Depending on the severity, doctors may recommend extensive physical therapy and medications for rehabilitation and pain management.
It can be challenging for many patients to keep up with medical expenses. Injured parties should pursue a settlement offer to cover their financial and other losses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Visit The Personal Injury Center to find reliable online resources and connect with experienced personal injury lawyers. They can provide legal advice and protect your rights and interests.
| Key Takeaways |
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury resulting from a violent head-jerking motion, such as sudden acceleration and deceleration in a rear-end collision. The force exerted on the neck damages the soft tissues, muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves, and tendons.
Whiplash is also known as hyperextension injury, myofascial injury, neck strain, and cervical strain.
Most whiplash injuries resolve without treatment after a few weeks. However, complex whiplash cases may entail numerous tests and extensive treatment.
A whiplash injury may be an acute or chronic condition. Symptoms of acute whiplash should last less than three months. Chronic whiplash symptoms may persist for years after the incident.
Many patients mistake whiplash for a stiff neck, back injury, or muscle pain. Whiplash has similar symptoms to other conditions, so refrain from self-medicating.
The most common symptoms of whiplash may include the following:
- Neck pain, worsening with movement
- Neck stiffness
- Limited range of motion
- Frequent headaches
- Shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
- Arm pain and numbness
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty of sleeping
- Memory problems
Experiencing these symptoms after a car accident or strenuous physical activity could indicate whiplash. Get a medical assessment as soon as possible.
Potential impact on injured parties
Whiplash may cause short and long-term effects on injured parties. They may keep sufferers from enjoying their usual activities with the same level of comfort as before the accident.
Whiplash patients may need to adapt to a new lifestyle to accommodate specific medical needs. The support equipment they need to wear may limit their mobility. It is also not advisable for patients to engage in strenuous physical activities to avoid overfatigue and strain.
A study of whiplash-associated disorders confirmed their long-term effects. It found residual symptoms like stiffness, headache, and chronic pain still manifested after 20 years. Notably, some participants did not initially display these symptoms.
Besides compensation for medical bills injured parties accumulated due to whiplash, they should also seek remuneration for discomfort and inconvenience.
Depending on the gravity of the whiplash injury, treatment plans may include pain medications and physical therapy. Some patients should see a chiropractor after a car accident to treat joint and muscle issues.
Whiplash treatment plans often focus on pain management and rehabilitating victims’ impaired bodily functions. These help patients live more comfortably while they recover.
For pain management, doctors recommend the following:
- Bed rest
- Regular light exercises
- Hot or cold compress
- Pain medication
- Antidepressant drugs
- Muscle relaxants
- Physical therapy
- Neck and body braces
Before trying any medical treatment, injured parties should consult a doctor. Some of the therapies may be inappropriate in some cases.
When do whiplash injuries happen?
People may sustain whiplash injuries anywhere, even without them noticing. The patient could have been in shock when the incident causing the injury happened. Others may have a high tolerance and not realize the pain until the condition worsens. Below are some of the most common circumstances where one could suffer from whiplash.
Motor vehicle accidents
Whiplash is a typical car accident injury. A rear-end collision is among the most frequent causes of whiplash injuries. Car accident victims often strain their necks due to the sudden jerking of their heads upon impact. Unlike their bodies, the victim’s heads do not have a seatbelt strap to support them in a collision.
Physical assault or abuse
Whiplash injuries may also result from incidents outside of car accident cases. Physical abuse or assault may lead to severe injury to the neck or back that may develop into whiplash. Proving whiplash in these cases may require the expertise of forensic specialists.
Whiplash injuries are common in contact sports like basketball, soccer, and wrestling. Whiplash occurs when players collide at high speed, causing sudden acceleration or deceleration of the neck. Players often sustain the injury or inflict it on others unintentionally.
In 2022, Miami Heat’s Markieff Morris did not play for four months due to an apparent whiplash injury.
The Whiplash Injury Scale
Whiplash-related injuries may vary in severity, and the compensation rate may increase as you go up the scale. The classification of whiplash injuries ranges from grade zero to four. Each grade varies in severity of signs and symptoms.
A car accident attorney would make it a priority to get a proper medical assessment. When seeking compensation for medical costs, determine the extent of injury using the following categories.
At level zero, the patient shows no visible signs of injury. They may not feel pain or stiffness in the neck area.
Patients at level zero may not need immediate medical care. They could proceed with their daily activities without difficulty or requiring support equipment.
Grade one patients may experience pain in the neck area. In addition, they may also feel stiffness and tenderness within the same region. They may have a limited range of motion due to pain and discomfort.
Patients with grade one whiplash injury symptoms should seek immediate consultation to avoid complications.
At grade two, the patient experiences more intensive pain and shows visible signs of physical injury. The pain is not only in the neck area. It spreads to the head, face, shoulder, and back. Patients also develop difficulty in movement due to muscle spasms.
At grade three, the patient exhibits neurological symptoms. It happens because inflammation in the affected area blocks nerve signals to the brain and vice versa.
Patients with whiplash injuries at this level may experience muscle weakness, numbness, paresthesia, vision impairment, dysphonia, dysphagia, and vertigo. The symptoms may worsen without proper care.
At grade four, patients experience more intensive neurological symptoms. There is a high chance that the patient has a fractured or unaligned neck vertebra. Patients may require immediate surgery and months of chiropractic care. The injuries could become permanent if not addressed instantly.
How To Establish a Whiplash Injury Claim
Filing a personal injury case for whiplash can be challenging to many. It is a technical process requiring parties to be detail-oriented and consistently keep records. The following tips can help establish a solid whiplash injury claim.
Seek prompt medical care
Some individuals avoid going to the hospital, fearing their medical expenses will pile up. However, seeking medical care as soon as possible is advisable to get a proper diagnosis of your injuries. Insurance companies may deny claims of injured parties when they fail to get medical attention immediately after an accident.
Follow the doctor’s treatment plan
Parties who decide to seek medical help should follow their doctors’ instructions. Insurance companies may deny a party’s claim based on willful non-compliance with medical treatment plans.
They could reason that the claimants’ conditions are byproducts of their negligence and carelessness. Work closely with your doctors to avoid missing any medical procedure or medication.
Gather relevant documents
Exhibiting relevant documents will strengthen a whiplash injury claim. Injured parties may collect the following to bolster their cases:
- Medical records
- Hospital bills
- Receipts for other rehabilitation costs
- Treatment plan
- Property damage quotation from the auto company
- Police report
- Incident report
- Witness affidavits
- Opinions of expert witnesses
File an insurance claim
State laws differ regarding the requirements for whiplash injury claims. Before filing any action in court, coordinate with the insurance company for a settlement. The average whiplash settlement may vary depending on the circumstances of a case.
Consult a personal injury attorney
Consult a lawyer to determine how much a fair settlement for whiplash is. An accident injury attorney can also guide you on the settlement process and negotiate with insurance adjusters. Their presence often deters adjusters from offering lowball and fraudulent settlements.
A reputable lawyer or law firm can help safeguard your rights and interests as the injured party. Most offer a free consultation to assess your case and come up with a winning strategy.
Factors Affecting a Settlement for Whiplash
The events leading to the settlement process may significantly impact the injured parties’ claims. Interested parties should be calculating in their movements to ensure a more favorable outcome.
Below are the factors that may affect the value of a settlement for whiplash.
The severity of whiplash injury
The settlement amount may increase with the severity of harm inflicted on the whiplash injury victims. A victim who suffers a neck sprain will likely receive less than one who sustains a neck fracture.
The injured party’s pain and suffering
No party should agree to a whiplash injury settlement not commensurate with their pain and suffering. Although whiplash injury victims often incur minor physical injuries, they may have suffered from emotional trauma from the accident.
Pain and suffering cover both physical discomfort and emotional distress. Claimants may ask for these non-economic damages in a personal injury settlement.
Duration of whiplash injury
The rehabilitation of whiplash injuries can vary. A victim with a severe injury may need a few months to recover. Sometimes, the length of the recovery period may also change depending on the patient’s health after the auto accident.
Some treatments could take years when the patient’s condition becomes chronic.
Other losses incurred
The average settlement should also cover losses other than serious injury requiring medical attention. The personal injury claim of whiplash victims may include property damage and loss of economic opportunities. For example, the injured party may have lost their employment while recovering.
Reasons for the Denial of Your Whiplash Injury Claim
Insurance companies and the at-fault parties will seize any opportunity to avoid paying for damages. The following are common reasons for denying a whiplash injury claim:
- Insufficient medical evidence
- Failure to prove that the accident caused the whiplash injury
- Exaggeration of cost estimates
- The injured party did not get immediate medical attention
- The damage stems from a pre-existing condition or prior accident
- The injured party is an at-fault party
Tips for Maximizing a Whiplash Payout
Incurring any injury from a negligent accident can have serious consequences. However, you can mitigate the situation by recovering your losses from the at-fault parties. The following tips can help you maximize a settlement for whiplash.
Watch what you say and do after the accident
Other parties may use a claimant’s words and actions against them. Talk with a car accident lawyer before talking with insurance company representatives.
Get a thorough medical checkup
Medical assessments from licensed practitioners are consequential in improving your claim for whiplash injury compensation. Ask for medical certificates and other official proof.
Document the accident thoroughly
Human memory is fleeting, so keeping track of events in writing and with photographs is crucial. Documentation also helps you stay consistent when recounting your experiences.
Cooperate during the claims investigation
Refrain from provoking the police, insurance adjusters, and other people in authority. Sustaining whiplash injury can be frustrating, but keep calm throughout the process. Anger and hostility are counterproductive. Provide the required information to report the accident and process a claim as objectively as possible.
Provide accurate and realistic calculations of injury costs
It is not advisable to exaggerate the severity of your injury and its related expenses. If the insurance company or at-fault parties find out, they may deny your claim.
Did you know?
There can be a delay in the manifestation of whiplash symptoms. Injured parties may seek compensation for costs covering additional medical procedures.
Seek Legal Help To Maximize Your Settlement for Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash is an injury that can happen to anyone. It often stems from a rear-end car accident, sports injury, and physical abuse or assault. Regardless of the cause, injured parties can pursue a fair settlement from the at-fault party or their insurer.
Unfortunately, working on a whiplash injury settlement can be overwhelming for most people to handle alone. Interested parties can visit The Personal Injury Center to learn more about their legal options and get a free case evaluation.
You deserve an equitable settlement for whiplash injuries. Explore your legal options through the free resources available at the Personal Injury Center.
FAQs on Settlement for Whiplash
It is advisable to request a letter of explanation from the insurance company detailing the reasons for the denial. After receiving their response, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.
It depends on whether the claimant resides in a no-fault state or not. Injured parties can file claims with their car insurance companies in no-fault states. In fault or tort states, they can file a claim with the other party's insurance if they can prove fault.
The amount of compensation varies from case to case. Consult a personal injury lawyer to get an accurate assessment of the value of your claim.