Whiplash usually occurs during auto accidents, particularly to people whose cars have been rear-ended. The name of this injury derives from the rapid, back-and-forth motion of the neck that causes it. Whiplash can also be caused by sports injuries, some other form of trauma, or physical abuse.
Headaches and neck pain and stiffness are common symptoms of whiplash. Although the symptoms can often resolve on their own in a short amount of time, in some cases, whiplash may cause longer-lasting physical repercussions to the victim.
How is Whiplash Compensation Determined?
In less severe cases of whiplash, the injured party may receive a settlement from an insurance company to compensate them. However, in more severe cases, the injured person (now the “Plaintiff”) may file a lawsuit against the parties liable for their injuries (“Defendants”), including anyone who may have caused the injury, and that person’s insurance company.
If the plaintiff proves their case against the Defendant(s), they will probably be awarded damages based on the following:
- The severity of the whiplash injuries
- Whether the plaintiff was partly responsible for their own injuries
- Whether there were any pre-existing injuries involved
- State injury laws (these can be different for each state)
In many cases, the input of an expert medical witness may be needed in order to help determine whiplash compensation amounts. For instance, if the expert finds that the whiplash injuries are not that serious, the damages award may be reduced accordingly. Or, if they determine that the whiplash injuries are particularly severe, the damages may be increased.
The judge may also award compensation for future loss of income or loss of earning capacity if the whiplash injury hinders the person’s ability to generate wages in the future.
What if I Have a Legal Dispute Over the Amount of Compensation?
A medical expert can be invaluable in determining the true amount of damages the Plaintiff should receive. Whiplash injuries are often underestimated, and the full extent of injury may not present itself for some time. The medical expert can study the Plaintiff’s case and make complex medical details clear, in order to present an accurate picture of the likely medical costs to the Plaintiff (and thus, their need for more in damages).
The assistance of a lawyer is also indispensable, as some states may limit the amount of car accident damages depending on state law.
Remember that damages awards for whiplash need to be in a "reasonable amount", and must be "proportionate to the severity of the injury."
It helps to collect documents such as police reports, eyewitness accounts, medical/hospital bills, and insurance documents. These can help build your case during trial and can serve as evidence in your favor.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Whiplash Compensation Disputes?
Yes, if your injury is severe and you need to file a lawsuit, you should contact an attorney to represent you in court and help you gather evidence, make us of medical experts and get reasonable compensation to cover all the damages you have suffered. You should contact a personal injury attorney in you area.