What is the fastest way to get a cash settlement for whiplash?
Questions like this one could be part of the reason why "whiplash" injuries aren't taken all that seriously by insurance adjusters and juries. This question also raises some important considerations for car accident injury claims.
First off, it's important to understand that soft tissue injuries to the neck are very common after a car accident, and they're just as valid as any other kind of car accident injury. Though the term "whiplash" has fallen out of favor in both the legal and medical communities, a "whiplash"-type injury is often diagnosed as a neck sprain or strain, and it may be described as a hyperflexion-hyperextension injury. These injuries can be painful and long-lasting, but they can also be treated effectively with tools like physical therapy and chiropractic care. Learn more about Car Accident Neck Injuries.
Having said all that, if you're legitimately injured after a car accident, your priority shouldn't be getting the "fastest" settlement, and you certainly shouldn't be expecting a cash payment (no above-board insurance company is going to pay your settlement with a stack of 20 dollar bills).
In any kind of injury claim after an accident, it's important not to reach a settlement -- which almost always means signing a release of your right to any future compensation over the accident -- until you understand the full extent of your injuries and have reached what's called "maximum medical improvement" (MMI). That means you have either recovered completely from your injuries or your condition has reached a point where you have stabilized and now have a clear picture of what your future medical care might be including what that future care will cost, and what kinds of physical limitations or disabilities might be permanent.
Even if you think you only have a soft tissue "whiplash"-type injury, you need to get proper medical treatment, keep your follow-up appointments, and take a wait-and-see approach to your injuries and their effect on your daily life. The last thing you want to do is accept that "fast" settlement, sign the insurance company's release, and then be left with no recourse when your injuries end up being more debilitating and long-lasting than you thought they would be.
by: David Goguen, J.D.