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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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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, such as the lawyers at FVF. 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. FVF 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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