There is not a baseline dollar amount that insurance companies use to calculate how much a settlement might be worth if you receive a whiplash injury in an accident. It is also difficult to estimate an average settlement payout for whiplash injury in Tennessee because each case is different, and there are a variety of factors insurance companies and attorneys use to calculate a settlement for such an injury.
However, many whiplash cases have some common factors that allow us to offer a general idea of what you can expect to recover.
What is whiplash?
Before we discuss the factors of a whiplash settlement, we should quickly explain what whiplash is and how it can affect you. Whiplash, a neck strain, occurs when an impact causes the head to snap forward and then back. Whiplash can result in a number of symptoms:
- Decreased mobility or flexibility
- Vertebrae damage
- Torn ligaments
- Back pain
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty sleeping
Whiplash sometimes heals on its own, but in more severe cases, the damage can be long-lasting. You may require a neck brace or therapy to fully recover. That is one example of the kind of expense you can claim in an insurance claim against the person responsible for your injury.
What determines the size of my settlement?
There are a variety of factors that will determine the size of your settlement offer. A court or insurer will likely consider the following questions:
How severe are your injuries? Although a neck strain is not a catastrophic injury, the effects can be long-lasting. A settlement should reflect the costs of emergency medical care you required after the accident, therapy or other treatments, and the likely long-term costs if your injury does not heal quickly.
How long will it take to recover? You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages from days, weeks, or months of work missed during your recovery from a neck strain. We can gather your employment documentation, W2s, and paystubs to calculate how much your injury is costing you in earnings, raises, and promotions.
Are your injuries affecting your daily life? In addition to receiving compensation for medical costs and lost wages, you may be entitled to additional damages for pain and suffering. If your neck strain has diminished your quality of life, we can make a fair calculation of the payment you should receive.
Who caused the accident? Tennessee uses a modified comparative fault system to assign liability in accidents that cause injury. This means a court will determine what percentage of the fault each party is responsible for and will award damages accordingly. If you suffered whiplash in an accident that was 10 percent your fault, for example, you can only receive 90 percent of your damages (e.g., $4,500 of $5,000).
Are whiplash cases easy to win?
In most cases, no. Neck strain cases can be difficult to win for a few reasons. Often, courts do not take these injuries seriously, sometimes assuming the victim is faking his injury. A dishonest plaintiff in a neck brace is a pop-culture cliché. But, obviously, if you have received such an injury, you know it is a serious matter.
In addition, neck strains are difficult to diagnose and to prove. Because many of these injuries only affect neck tissue, rather than the skull or vertebrae, they might not appear on imaging tests such as X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The symptoms also appear and disappear irregularly. The pain might not appear until a few days after the accident, or will heal in a few days only to return later.
So, your first-hand account of the pain you are experiencing can often be the determining factor in how much compensation you receive. We can work with you to help provide an honest and convincing testimony about your accident, injury, and recovery. We will also work with medical experts to bolster your account of your injury.
Is there anything I can do to help my whiplash case?
Yes. If you begin experiencing pain after an accident, go to the doctor immediately. This can help prove your injuries are related to your accident. Follow your doctor’s orders and do not push yourself. Keep all your records, receipts, and bills in a safe place.
Keep a pain journal. Take note each day of how strong the pain is (from 1-10) and how it is affecting you (e.g., “I had to leave work today because of my neck pain.”)
Be sure to document everything that happens during your treatment, diagnosis, and recovery. This will provide our legal team with the information it needs to build your case.
Should I accept a settlement offer before talking to a lawyer?
No. You should never do this. The at-fault party’s insurer will likely try to minimize its costs by paying you less than you deserve. In a whiplash case, an insurer may point out how difficult these cases are to win, and will argue that you should take a small settlement to avoid losing a drawn-out case.
The accident lawyers with the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC have years of experience fighting on behalf of whiplash victims and can work to get you the compensation you deserve while you focus on your recovery. Call 865-546-1111 for a free consultation.