Whiplash can be worth a significant amount of money in a lawsuit. Some people harbor the misconception that whiplash is a minor injury. But it’s a severe form of trauma that can inflict substantial physical, emotional, and financial damage. Every case differs, but compensation for whiplash can sometimes reach tens of thousands of dollars or more.
If you suffered whiplash in a motor vehicle crash or other preventable incident, you may have rights to receive substantial monetary damages from the party at fault or an insurance company. The most dependable way to get that money is to have an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your claim. A knowledgeable lawyer can review your case, advise you about its potential value, and explain what they can do to make sure you get paid.
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Whiplash is a Severe Injury
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury primarily affecting muscles, tendons, discs, and nerves in the neck. It occurs when a sudden jolt, such as in a motor vehicle accident or collision while playing contact sports, causes a person’s neck and spine to extend and flex, throwing the head forward and back in a motion similar to the snapping of a whip.
The resulting injury can cause a host of debilitating symptoms, including:
- Neck, back, and shoulder pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Pain or numbness in arms and hands
- Vision problems
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Fatigue and sleep disruption
People who suffer whiplash injuries often find their lives disrupted for months or more by its symptoms, treatments, and complications. Many miss work, struggle at school, lose the ability to engage in normal daily activities, and live in constant pain.
Your Rights to Compensation for Whiplash
If you suffered whiplash in circumstances caused by someone else’s careless or reckless conduct, you may have the right to receive compensation for the full scope of harm you’ve suffered.
A skilled lawyer can often get you payment for your:
- Medical expenses, including for the cost of emergency treatment, hospitalization, diagnostic tests, surgeries, physical therapy, medication, medical equipment, follow-up appointments, and insurance co-pays and deductibles.
- Non-medical expenses resulting from your injury, like the cost of hiring help around the house or with childcare while you heal
- Loss of income and job benefits due to missing work while you heal, including the value of vacation time or sick leave you used
- Lost future earnings and career opportunities because of long-term limitations imposed by your whiplash injury
- Physical pain from the injury or medical treatments
- Emotional distress and other mental health challenges stemming from your injury
- Diminished quality of life because of the struggle of enduring a whiplash injury
That’s not all. If someone’s extreme recklessness or intentional misconduct caused your whiplash injury, a skilled lawyer might also convince a court to award you extra, punitive damages. You may also claim statutory or other damages in some cases.
Calculating Your Whiplash Damages
Personal injury lawyers and insurance companies calculate the value of the damages you suffered because of a whiplash injury in several ways. Here’s a quick overview.
Calculating Economic Damages
Your economic damages consist of the direct financial costs of your whiplash injury, most commonly characterized by the first four categories listed above — medical expenses, non-medical expenses, past lost income and job benefits, and future lost earnings. Calculating them involves adding up all of your existing expenses and financial losses and, based on that figure, estimating your future financial damages. Lawyers rely on documentation like invoices, receipts, and pay stubs to tally your past losses and frequently work with financial and other experts to project your financial needs into the future.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Your non-economic damages consist of all other negative life impacts caused by your whiplash injury. The final three categories above — physical pain, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life — constitute common types of non-economic damages. But you can’t add up pain and suffering the way you can invoices and receipts.
Instead, calculating non-economic involves making a reasoned judgment call about what constitutes fair compensation for the difficulties and challenges you face. An experienced lawyer who has seen how juries and insurance companies resolve non-economic damages claims can give you an estimate of their potential value in your case.
Factors Affecting the Value of a Whiplash Injury Claim
The best way to learn about the types and amounts of compensation you might receive for a whiplash injury is to consult with an experienced lawyer right away. Whiplash claims don’t have a single, fixed value. Instead, as any seasoned lawyer will tell you, they depend on a variety of factors that influence the amount you can demand as compensation and how much you can realistically expect to receive by taking legal action.
Severity of Your Injury and Disruption of Your Life
The first step a lawyer will usually take in putting the value on your whiplash claim is to figure out how much money you have the right to claim as compensation.
And that largely depends on two often-interconnected factors:
- The severity of the whiplash you suffered; and
- The disruption whiplash caused in your life.
These factors tend to correlate directly to the size of your medical and other expenses, the length of time you spend out of work, and the degree of pain, suffering, and inconvenience you endure. But while they often go hand-in-hand — severe injuries can also be disruptive ones — that isn’t always the case. Even a supposedly minor case of whiplash can have a major impact on your life, because whiplash symptoms often get in the way of basic life functions like sleeping, mood regulation, and performing everyday tasks like driving or bending down to put on your shoes.
Strength of Your Case and Quality of Your Lawyer
The value of your whiplash claim can also depend on the strength of the evidence and legal arguments in your favor. Those characteristics, in turn, have a lot to do with the skill, resources, and reputation of the lawyer you choose to handle your claim.
Not all whiplash cases are created equal. The most convincing cases feature high-quality evidence that a lawyer could use to demonstrate in court (if necessary) exactly what happened to you, who should bear the blame, and how much money you deserve to receive in compensation. Those cases tend to have the highest values.
Lesser cases, by way of comparison, lack evidentiary or legal support and leave questions in the minds of judges, jurors, defense lawyers, and insurance companies about whether someone is truly liable to you for the amount of damages you’ve claimed. Cases like that tend to have lower values.
Selecting an experienced, capable personal injury lawyer for your case gives you the best shot at maximum compensation for your losses. A talented attorney can locate key evidence, assemble it into a persuasive demand or legal complaint, and force at-fault parties and insurance companies to pay what they owe.
Financial Resources Available to Pay You
The amount of money available to pay you damages can also play a critical role in determining the value of your whiplash claim. The party at fault for your injury may owe you compensation, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily have the means to pay you in full. If the amount of insurance that party carries and assets they have at their disposal falls short of the amount of your damages, it could effectively cap the amount you might realistically hope to receive.
A skilled personal injury lawyer works hard to find as many potential sources of payment for your whiplash injury as possible. Multiple individuals, businesses, or entities could bear some legal and financial responsibility for the harm you’ve suffered. The more of them a lawyer can identify and pursue on your behalf, the higher your odds of locating the resources necessary to receive full compensation.
What a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do to Maximize Your Whiplash Claim’s Value
A personal injury lawyer’s job is to get you the maximum compensation possible for your whiplash injury. The lawyer handles every step in the process of getting you money, so that you can focus your time and energy on healing. The right personal injury attorney for your whiplash case should have years of experience, a track record of getting top-dollar case results, a standout team, and the respect and admiration of former clients and fellow lawyers.
The steps needed to get someone money for a whiplash injury can vary.
But a skilled personal injury lawyer can handle any challenge your case throws their way by:
- Investigating how your whiplash injury happened and who bears the blame for it
- Analyzing insurance to determine the types and amounts of coverage you have available
- Handling all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf
- Gathering evidence to prove your claim for compensation
- Filing and pursuing insurance claims and lawsuits seeking money damages for your whiplash injury
- Negotiating favorable settlements of your claims when possible
- Going to court to prove your case at trial when necessary
- Making sure you receive every dollar owed to you by an at-fault party or insurance company
A skilled personal injury lawyer will usually do this and other work for you without charging you a penny upfront. Most attorneys who represent whiplash victims take cases on a contingent fee basis, which means they only get paid if they win. You should never have to worry about affording a lawyer when you’re struggling with the challenges of a whiplash injury.
How You Can Protect the Value of Your Whiplash Claim
The most dependable way to make sure you receive the maximum possible compensation for your whiplash injury is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you have a lawyer in your corner, the stronger your case and the better your odds of a favorable outcome. Hiring a lawyer immediately also safeguards you against missing a critical legal deadline.
In addition to hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can also take the following common sense steps to protect the value of your whiplash claim.
Get Medical Care
Whiplash is one of those injuries that some people try to ignore. But that can be a huge mistake if you want maximum compensation. As the victim of someone else’s wrongful conduct, it’s up to you to demonstrate that you did everything reasonably necessary to take care of yourself. And that starts with getting all appropriate medical care for your whiplash injury.
Don’t wait for the aches and soreness that can be the first signs of whiplash to develop into more severe and disruptive symptoms. Seek medical attention as soon as possible after taking the sort of blow or jolt that commonly results in whiplash. Not only will this give you the best chance of healing, it will create medical records that a skilled lawyer can use to prove your case for compensation. And it will prevent anyone from disputing the cause or severity of your injury.
Beware of Common Insurance Tactics
Insurance companies that believe they may owe you money for your whiplash injury may engage in a variety of tactics designed to undermine the value of your claim. One is to pressure you to give a recorded interview in which they’ll ask you loaded questions formulated to make you say something damaging to your case. Another is to offer you a quick cash settlement for an amount far less than what a lawyer could negotiate on your behalf.
Don’t fall for these tactics. Don’t engage with any insurance adjuster who pressures you to give a statement or accept a settlement. Instead, ask a skilled personal injury attorney to handle your claim and make sure you receive the best deal possible.
Ask a Lawyer to Review Your Whiplash Claim Today
If you suffered a whiplash injury in circumstances that were someone else’s fault, you could have the right to receive significant monetary damages. Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer right away to learn about how much your whiplash injury claim could be worth.