What kind of settlement can I expect for a whiplash injury?

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Question:

What kind of settlement can I expect for a whiplash injury?

Answer:

Since every car accident case is different, it’s not possible to predict what kind of settlement you can expect to receive after a whiplash or neck strain injury -- not without knowing the specific facts of your case. But it is possible to explain some of the factors that go into valuing a car accident settlement, and some of the key issues in cases involving whiplash-type injuries in particular.

First, it helps to understand what we’re talking about when we use the term “whiplash,” which has actually fallen out of favor in both the medical and the legal realms.

In a car accident, when muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck are suddenly and powerfully contracted -- due to the sudden and unexpected force of even a seemingly minor collision -- this connective tissue can stretch unusually far.  The resulting neck sprains and neck strains can result in a “soft tissue injury” that is sometimes called "hyperflexion” or “hyperextension," more commonly known as "whiplash."

These kinds of injuries to the neck are very common after a car accident, but they’re also problematic from an injury claim perspective. That’s because whiplash-type injuries, like all soft tissue injuries, do not typically show up on X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic tests. That doesn’t mean that whiplash-type injuries are any less legitimate or any less painful than other types of car accident injuries. But it does mean that, if you are experiencing pain, discomfort, limited movement, stiffness, or any other symptoms of neck injury, it’s important to get medical attention.

Obviously, getting proper medical treatment for your injuries is essential to your health and well-being. But it’s also critical for any injury-related insurance claim you make after a car accident. An insurance adjuster isn’t going to just take you at your word when you say that you are injured, and then cut you a check. All of your losses need to be documented as much as possible. And if you can produce medical records and bills that show the type and extent of medical treatment you received after the car accident, that will go a long way toward legitimizing your injuries.

Medical treatment and the seriousness of injuries are two of the most important considerations when it comes to the value of an injury settlement, and you can bet that any claim value formula that the insurance adjuster uses will weight these factors quite heavily. So after any car accident, one of your first steps should be to get proper medical attention. You may also want to discuss your case -- and your legal options -- with a car accident attorney in your area.

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