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Car Accident Neck Injury Settlement

Last year, there were more than 620,000 car accidents in the state of Texas, leading to about 255,000 injuries, many of them serious.

Tens of thousands of injured car accident victims, if not more, suffered some kind of neck injury, including neck injuries that were life-altering and potentially critical.

Car accident neck injuries can range from minor to severe, temporary to permanent, and fully identifying and understanding the full extent of a neck injury, along with the short- and long-term consequences of the neck injury, are critical to determining the appropriate settlement amount you should expect.

Factors Used to Determine a Car Accident Neck Injury Settlement Amount

Even though neck injuries can be very serious, determining a neck injury settlement amount after a car accident can be quite difficult and complex, because there are usually many factors involved and no two cases are exactly alike.

Chances are it will be impossible to accurately evaluate the appropriate car accident settlement value until you have a strong sense of whether the neck injury is permanent, and, if so, to what extent you will require medical care and suffer from pain or physical impairment in the future.

While it is difficult to gauge how much a neck injury settlement should be, there are a number of key factors that can be taken into account in order to calculate a fair settlement. These factors will vary based on the specific circumstances of your case, and typically include:

  1. The severity of your neck injury – Certainly, a neck injury that is projected to last a lifetime and need future rehabilitation, physical therapy, pain management care, or surgery will draw far more compensation than a neck injury that resolves after a relatively short period of time with no indication of a structural injury, such as damage to an intervertebral disk or facet joint. Likewise, a neck injury that can be at least partially repaired through surgery will generate a lower settlement value than a spinal cord injury that might cause permanent paralysis or other bodily dysfunction. Oftentimes, proving the full extent and long-term consequences of the neck injury will be necessary to negotiate the best settlement for your neck injury.
  2. The amount and timing of medical treatment – Insurance companies will punish people who have not done a good job of getting prompt medical care for their neck injury by offering a low settlement. Their philosophy is that if you waited to get medical care, your neck injury was not that serious. Delays in medical care can be a huge setback to getting a significant neck injury settlement, even if you were really hurt. Also, getting medical treatment will help make sure that the sources of your neck pain are identified, which is evidence that is very important to your case. So, the more promptly you treat for you neck injury and learn whether it is permanent, the higher your car accident neck injury settlement is likely to be.
  3. The level of fault – If the fault or liability of the other driver is clear and established, the likelihood of a high neck injury settlement will be much higher than if you are partly at fault. Car accident neck injury settlement amounts can be calculated based on the degree of fault. The car accident neck injury lawyers at FVF Law have handled hundreds of neck injury cases, and can help you with the hard and frustrating work of negotiating a settlement with the insurance companies of those who caused your car accident. Insurance companies often pull certain types of tricks designed to get you to accept a below-average settlement amount for your neck injury, but we have the knowledge and the skill to make sure you are not taken advantage of.

Before you even consider settling your neck injury case with an insurance company, you have to know what, if any, long-term consequences your neck injury will cause, including any likely future medical costs and any impact on your quality of life.

It is also important to understand that you don’t have to settle your neck injury case. If you are unhappy with the insurance company’s settlement offer, you have the right to file a lawsuit and ask a jury to award you more.

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How Do Auto Accidents Cause Neck Injuries Like Whiplash?

Whiplash is a generic term that refers to the neck sprains and strains that are common following car accidents. According to the U.S. insurance industry, they are also the most frequently reported injuries in the country. A neck injury like whiplash typically happens to the driver and passengers in a car when it has been rear-ended. The impact causes the head to rapidly snap forward and/or backward with sudden force. The sudden motion can cause tears or stretches muscles and ligaments in the neck, although it could very well damage the nerves and create stiffness in the soft tissues of the neck and down the spine.

In most cases, whiplash is diagnosed by physicians when a patient presents symptoms after being involved in a car crash, but there are many times when symptoms present several days or even weeks later.

Quite often, seemingly minor symptoms can mask more serious neck injuries. This is why it is very important to get a thorough medical exam right after any accident, even if you don’t feel serious pain right away.

Whiplash can lead to a wide range of pain and medical treatments, from mild discomfort to debilitating pain, and from conservative treatment (like chiropractic care and physical therapy) to neck surgery. It can have a detrimental impact on the ability to move and function normally, and those impairments can last a lifetime.

Many neck injuries, including more severe forms of whiplash, can lead to large medical bills, with significant costs going to pay for physical therapy, pain management (such as epidural steroid injections), and surgery (such as fusion surgery).

In recent years, the cost of neck injury auto accident claims was about $10 billion, paid by insurance companies. That amounts to about 25 percent of all payouts for auto accident injury claims. Most of these were due to rear-end collisions, but neck injuries can also very easily occur in other collisions, such as t-bone collisions and rollovers.

Following a Car Accident, Here’s How to Identify Whiplash Pain

Whiplash injuries can take a variety of forms, including simple strains to the muscles in your neck, tears to the intervertebral disks that act as shock absorbers in the spine, and damage to cartilage in the joints of the spine.

Regardless of the type of injury, the symptoms of whiplash don’t always present immediately following an accident. Car crashes often lead to a spike in adrenaline, which can mask a neck injury like whiplash for some time, even days or weeks.

Once the masking subsides, the pain will begin, and within a few hours or even a day or two, whiplash may produce the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue and dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dull, radiating pain from the neck to the arms
  • An unusual inability to move your head
  • Tenderness and pain in the abdomen, chest, arms, shoulders and the upper back
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Numbness and possible tingling in the arms
  • Weakness in your limbs, hands, or fingers
  • Pain or knotting behind the shoulder blades

In some cases, especially following accidents involving big trucks, whiplash may cause lower back pain, primarily because the force of such an accident can often cause unnatural movement in the lower back and result in an injury to the lumber (or lower) spine. In addition to the neck, two areas of the lower spine tend to be especially susceptible to whiplash injuries:

  • Sacral Area: Located in the very bottom of the spine and consists of a flat, nearly triangular-shaped bone that is joined to the lumbar spine with a sacral hinge. In general, the sacral area of the spine is a stable area for the hips and typically does not move.
  • Lower Back (Lumbar): The lower back is an almost elastic part of the spine that consists of five lumbar vertebrae held together by tendons, cushioned by soft discs. These vertebrae have different ranges of motion depending on the person’s anatomy, but there is a considerable amount of natural movement possible.

Most people want to believe their neck injury symptoms will resolve on their own. And they might. But that is not a chance you should take, since those symptoms can remain permanently or even worsen, and, if you want to maximize your settlement, you have to prove the full extent of the injury and any costs associated therewith.

If you do not seek prompt medical attention to address these symptoms, you will dramatically increase the chances that your case will settle for less than if you get care immediately when the symptoms begin, even if your neck injury symptoms are minor.

Getting prompt medical attention will help build your case file, and ensure that all diagnostic testing (such as MRIs) are completed, which will preserve evidence of what is causing your pain. If you are concerned about paying for this medical treatment, you should consult a lawyer (at no cost) to learn about what options you might have.

How Long Do Car Accident Neck Injury Settlements Take in Austin, Tx?

It would be impossible to give a precise estimate of your case’s timeline without consulting a legal expert. That’s because your case length will depend on your individual circumstances and the behavior of the other parties involved in your case.

While some cases are resolved in a matter of months, others may take a year or more. However, there are some factors to consider as you and your lawyer work to estimate the timeframe of your case.

  • How severely you are injured. Neck injury is a broad term; it can include issues like strains and sprains all the way to fractures or herniated discs that can permanently affect your health. Typically, cases that involve more severe injuries take longer to settle, simply because it may take more time to determine how your injury will affect your life, how quickly you will recover, and what types of treatments and expenses you will need now and in the future.
  • The amount of compensation you are claiming. High-dollar cases frequently take longer to prove and resolve. Your lawyer may need to gather more information to prove your damages, and the negotiation process may take longer. If you and the other parties are unable to come to an agreement, you may even have to take the case to court, which will vastly extend your case.
  • The number of parties involved in your case. A car accident between two individuals is often more straightforward and simpler to resolve than one that involves many accident victims, drivers, and insurance policies.
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Why You Should Consider Having A Car Crash Lawyer in Austin by Your Side

Insurance companies profit by paying you as little as possible to compensate you for your neck injury from an auto accident. They will try to lowball your neck injury auto accident settlement by pressuring you into taking a check for an amount of money that may seem impressive, but that is far lower than you deserve.

There are many pitfalls that can be avoided by at least calling and consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Austin, such as the lawyers at FVF Law.

Trying to handle your neck injury settlement on your own, without taking the time to understand the full consequences of your neck injury and getting the necessary medical care can cost you tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The fact is, no one who has been injured in a car accident should try to take on an insurance company on their own.

Nor should anyone try to take on an insurance company without having a clear understanding of their legal options, and taking the time to prove the full extent and consequences of their neck injury.

Bottom-line: after a car accident, the most important things to do are contact a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your options in your particular case, and get medical attention to start learning what the short- and long-term consequences of your neck injury are.

The Austin car accident attorneys at FVF Law can help you take the right steps to make sure you secure an outstanding settlement for your car accident neck injury. Consultations are cost- and pressure-free, and you will not pay us unless we are successful in securing a recovery for you.

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