Whiplash is a common injury for those involved in a car accident. Even the most miniscule fender bender can result in serious whiplash-associated disorder (WAD). That is why whiplash injuries are among the most common injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Many people who experience whiplash wrongfully assume that because it is not a visible, catastrophic injury, they can’t get compensation for it. This is not the case, as whiplash injuries are completely viable claims for compensation. In this post, our Shreveport personal injury attorneys at Gordon & Gordon will help you better understand what a whiplash compensation claim is and what you can expect from making one.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a medical term that describes a soft tissue injury that occurs as a result of sudden and forceful acceleration and deceleration. Most often, this is caused by a car accident in which the victim was struck by a vehicle from behind. When a rear ended collision like this occurs, the force will suddenly jerk a person’s body forward, snapping the neck back like a whip. It can also occur as a result of sudden side-to-side motion. This whip-like movement that hyperextends the neck and torso is where the name “whiplash” originates.
Whiplash can be a very serious injury. As it causes damage to the soft tissue and bone structures of the neck, it often brings extreme pain and discomfort. Not only that, but it can progressively get worse over time and hinder a person’s ability to perform normal, everyday activities.
Symptoms of whiplash include the following:
- Neck pain
- Upper and lower back pain
- Shoulder or arm pain
- Reduced ability to move the neck
- Blurry vision
- Swelling and inflammation
- Fatigue, nausea, or dizziness
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Psychological symptoms
- PTSD, travel anxiety or avoidance of travel, and flashbacks
The symptoms of whiplash may be present for several days, several weeks, or even several months. However, it is rare for someone to experience long-term complications from a whiplash injury. Most people recover from symptoms within a few weeks and make a complete recovery from the injury within two to three months.
How To Claim Whiplash
Making a whiplash claim is relatively simple, but there are steps you should take from the moment the accident occurs to strengthen your claim. The first thing you should do is swap contact information with the other party (or parties) involved at the scene of the accident. Make sure to exchange the following information:
- Phone number or other viable contact information
- Insurance provider
- Policy number
- License plate number
If there were any witnesses to the accident, having their contact information might also be helpful to your case.
In the case that it was a hit-and-run accident or if the other party refuses to give up their contact information or insurance details, report the incident to the police as soon as possible.
While still at the scene of the accident, it can be extremely helpful later on to have photographic evidence on hand. Take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and the surrounding area in which the accident occurred.
Once you have gathered this information, it may be beneficial to seek medical attention. If you don’t notice symptoms right away, visit a doctor as soon as they first appear. Your doctor can formally diagnose the whiplash injury and recommend treatment options. You’ll want to hold on to these medical records, too.
Next, you need to contact your insurance company and inform them of the accident. Report the details of the accident, including what happened and any injuries to you or your passengers, if applicable. You should do this within 24 hours of the accident’s occurrence.
The last and final step to making a whiplash claim is seeking legal support and representation. Having an experienced whiplash claim attorney can help ensure you recover any financial losses you may have experienced as a result of the accident.
How long should a whiplash claim take?
Once you file your whiplash compensation claim, you can expect the insurance company to reach out to you pretty early in the process, generally within a couple weeks. It is likely that they will propose an offer at that time, or they may try to obtain information and gain your trust. If they do propose a compensation settlement offer, it’s probably going to be a disappointing one.
Insurance companies are sneaky when it comes to paying off injured claimants. They will do everything it takes to redirect the blame and pay out as little as possible. In the case that you accept their lowball offer, the whiplash claim can settle rather quickly. This may be as soon as a few weeks to a month. This is often not the best way to go because while it may settle quicker, it will be much less compensation than what you deserve.
Should the claim become a lawsuit, however, the case may take anywhere from six months to a year. This is only if the case actually makes it to court, though. Luckily, most of these cases (95%, to be exact) resolve in a pre-trial agreement before reaching an actual hearing. Reaching a pre-trial agreement may take somewhere between two to six months, depending on the facts of the case.
Whiplash Compensation Amount
There is no exact number for how much someone’s whiplash settlement might be. The fact is, it depends on a variety of factors, most specifically the extent of the injuries and the impact they’ve had on a person’s life. The amount of compensation someone receives for whiplash injuries is generally calculated based on the economic and noneconomic damages incurred.
Economic damages refer to costs that can be specified with a tangible number. For example:
- Past and future medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Household services
- Rehabilitation costs
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, refer to damages that cannot be expressed with a precise dollar amount. This includes the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disability or disfigurement
- Physical impairment
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You can get a better idea of how much your whiplash compensation claim is worth from our experienced attorneys, given their experience in this field and the similar cases that they’ve encountered in the past. It is crucial to your case that you have a qualified personal injury lawyer on your side who will deny the insurance company’s lowball offers and work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Shreveport Whiplash Claim Attorney
At Gordon and Gordon Law Firm LLC, the services we provide to our clients are extensive. However, the types of claims we handle are highly focused on those resulting from auto injury accidents such as whiplash. Through the years, we’ve established a high level of credibility handling personal injury car accident claims all throughout the Ark-La-Tex region. This experience means that insurance adjusters take our cases very seriously. They know that when we make a personal injury claim, we’re prepared to prove fault in pursuit of the compensation our clients are entitled to. If you seek to make a whiplash compensation claim, call Louisiana personal injury attorneys Gordon and Gordon at 318-716-HELP right away.