How a Car Accident Settlement Is Valued for a Whiplash Claim in Georgia

What is the settlement value of a whiplash injury case in the Atlanta area? This guide discusses how Georgia personal injury lawyers value and prove neck injury and whiplash claims.

Key Points:

  • The speed at which you obtain medical attention in whiplash injury cases can significantly influence the settlement value.
  • Considerations for the settlement include the cumulative amount of past medical expenses, anticipated costs of future care, and the permanence of your injury.
  • Severe whiplash injuries that result in permanent damage typically have higher values compared to recoverable sprains or strains.
  • After a car accident, it falls on the victim to demonstrate the cause of the injury and its expected duration.
  • In Atlanta, attorneys specializing in car accidents and insurance adjusters often rely on Jury Verdict Research to assess and negotiate case valuations.

Understanding Whiplash: A Quick Overview

Whiplash is a neck injury resulting from a forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, resembling the cracking of a whip. It primarily affects the soft tissues—muscles, tendons, and ligaments—of the neck. Car accidents, especially rear-end collisions, are a primary cause of whiplash. The sudden impact causes the head to jerk forward and backward abruptly. This intense motion can strain or tear the neck’s soft tissues, leading to symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. While many recover from whiplash with appropriate treatment, the injury can sometimes lead to chronic discomfort. Immediate medical attention after a suspected whiplash injury ensures optimal recovery and management.

Understanding the Medical Costs of a Whiplash Injury

Whiplash is often mistakenly downplayed by auto insurance companies because its a common injury that they deal with. It is known to be the most common car accident injury. Its significance should not be underestimated, especially by insurance companies, as the associated medical costs can soar into the thousands. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of potential medical expenses linked to a whiplash injury:

  1. Initial Emergency Care: Immediately following the accident, victims might seek care in an emergency room or urgent care center. This can include costs for:
    • Triage and consultation
    • Imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans
    • Pain management medications
  2. Doctor’s Visits: Regular consultations with primary care physicians or specialists can accumulate costs, particularly if multiple follow-ups are required.
  3. Specialist Appointments: Depending on the severity of the injury, referrals to specialists might be necessary:
    • Orthopedic surgeons
    • Neurologists
    • Pain management specialists
  4. Physical Therapy: Often recommended for whiplash victims to restore mobility and strength. This can involve:
    • Sessions with a physical therapist
    • Special equipment or tools used in therapy
    • Home exercise equipment or kits
  5. Medications:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
    • Prescription painkillers, muscle relaxants, or nerve pain medications
    • Costs associated with potential side effects or complications from medications
  6. Imaging and Diagnostic Tests:
    • MRI scans to evaluate soft tissue damage
    • Electromyography (EMG) to assess nerve function
  7. Alternative Therapies: Some patients explore alternative treatments for pain relief and healing, which can include:
    • Chiropractic care
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage therapy
  8. Medical Equipment: Patients might need supportive devices like:
    • Neck braces or collars
    • Heat or cold packs
  9. Surgical Interventions: In rare cases, severe whiplash might necessitate surgical procedures, bringing in costs related to:
    • Surgery itself
    • Hospital stays
    • Post-operative care and medications
  10. Long-Term Care: Chronic issues from whiplash might require ongoing medical support, which can lead to costs associated with:
  11. Periodic check-ups
  12. Long-term medication or pain management
  13. Ongoing physical or occupational therapy

Covering Costs When You’re Not at Fault: Auto Insurance Companies Should Pay

Whiplash, often a subtle injury, can easily go unnoticed by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, leaving them unaware of your pain and the related medical expenses. It’s not an injury thats first discovered at the accident scene. Insurance companies are going off of what has been identified at the accident scene. Typically, they might issue a check covering only basic damages, overlooking the comprehensive costs associated with whiplash. It’s crucial not to accept their initial settlement offer. Instead, ensure that all your medical needs and associated expenses are thoroughly addressed and compensated.

How Do You Get The Auto Insurance to Pay for a Whiplash Injury

To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, it’s crucial to understand the necessary steps and provide adequate evidence of your injury to the auto insurance company.

Avoid Accepting the Initial First Check

As highlighted earlier, accepting and cashing the first check from the auto insurance company often implies settling for that amount, potentially forfeiting your chance to pursue additional compensation. Given that whiplash symptoms may not be immediately evident at the accident site, insurance companies might employ this strategy, hoping victims will accept the initial offer.

Receive an In-Depth Medical Exam

A medical examination provides the strongest evidence in validating the authenticity and origin of an injury. Merely stating symptoms isn’t sufficient to prove whiplash; the examination and associated medical reports must unequivocally indicate injury to the neck due to the forceful back-and-forth motion typical of such incidents. It’s advisable to undergo this examination within a week following the accident. Prolonged delays could lead insurance companies to doubt the accident as the injury’s cause. If medical experts don’t identify any injury, securing additional compensation becomes considerably challenging.

Prove That the Accident Was Not Your Fault

To maximize your compensation, once you establish that the injury resulted from the car accident. Then, demonstrate that the accident wasn’t your fault. While it might be evident that you were injured, the amount of compensation you receive largely hinges on proving the other driver’s liability. For this you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer. They can help collect the evidence to prove fault.

Accurately Calculate the Cost of the Accident

After establishing the injuries and fault, it’s crucial to detail the total financial burden of the accident. Many insurance companies might overlook or intentionally ignore these cumulative costs. Therefore, enlisting a lawyer’s assistance can ensure these expenses are accurately documented in a demand letter.

For car accidents resulting in whiplash, expenses can encompass medical bills, both immediate and future, lost wages, and potential future treatments or therapy. Additionally, consider compensation for pain and suffering, costs for physical therapy or chiropractic treatments, necessary medications, adaptive equipment, and any decrease in future earning capacity. It’s essential to document all these expenses meticulously and consult with a professional to ensure comprehensive compensation.

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Historic Whiplash Settlement Values

The Millar Law Firm consistently analyzes surveys of case settlements and jury verdict outcomes from across Georgia to assess equitable case values. Our findings indicate that, based on reported settlements and verdicts from 2000 to 2020, the typical whiplash settlement in Georgia ranged from $25,000 to $35,000.

It’s noteworthy that the average whiplash settlement exceeded the median award. This discrepancy arises because the average incorporates the most extreme and catastrophic cases, often involving severe, permanent injuries from car accidents that necessitate surgery. In contrast, the median settlement reflects a broader spectrum, encompassing minor cases that might only require chiropractic or conservative treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions about Whiplash Settlements

If Whiplash Is A Long Term Injury Will It Result in a Higher Settlement?

Generally, yes. But, there are other factors to consider that make a long term whiplash injury settlement amount increase or decrease. If the whiplash injury is a severe one which requires substantial and prolonged treatment, a higher settlement amount is likely.
However, if you have a history of the same whiplash type injury or neck pain prior to the motor vehicle accident, you may expect the insurance company to offer a lower settlement amount. When this happens, you have the option of filing a lawsuit and having a Jury determine the value of your claim.
Overall, a more severe and long term injury will likely result in a higher settlement offer if you have the medical evidence to support your case.

What do you do if the car insurance company challenges your claim of a whiplash injury?

The options are diverse. If you and your attorney have compelling evidence of your injury and the insurance company remains unyielding, litigation might be a suitable path. Alternatively, bolstering your case with additional evidence can be beneficial. This can include presenting detailed X-rays, expert medical opinions, and recommendations beyond just routine medical bills.

Can you receive more compensation for a whiplash injury if its a permanent injury?

Absolutely, the compensation for a whiplash injury can significantly increase if it’s determined to be a permanent injury. Generally, the valuation of a claim considers factors such as current medical bills and the cost of anticipated future care. Temporary whiplash injuries, which often lead to full recovery, might still warrant compensation above the immediate medical expenses, based on the injury’s severity. However, when a whiplash injury is permanent, its valuation can be substantially higher. The inability to fully recuperate can entail continuous treatments, possible surgeries, or prolonged therapies, increasing the total compensation amount. Cases involving permanent injuries might necessitate expert medical opinions to establish a direct link between the accident and the sustained injury, and to clarify the long-term implications. In these instances, compensation can range from higher thousands to even hundreds of thousands of dollars, contingent upon the injury’s impact and the associated costs.

If a whiplash Injury from a car accident puts you out of work for a while, can that increase the settlement value?

Yes, if a whiplash injury from a car accident results in you being unable to work for a period, it can increase the settlement value. When determining compensation, lost wages due to an injury are a key component. If you’re unable to work because of the injury, you are entitled to recover the wages you would have earned during that time. Additionally, if the injury affects your ability to earn in the future, or if it necessitates a change in your career or work capacity, you might also be entitled to compensation for future lost earnings or diminished earning capacity. When seeking a settlement, it’s crucial to thoroughly document your lost wages and any potential future wage losses to ensure fair compensation.

If I cause a car accident and suffer from whiplash, will my auto or health insurance cover the related expenses?

If you cause a car accident and suffer from whiplash, the coverage depends on the type of insurance policy you have:
Auto Insurance: Most auto insurance policies come with a component known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP is designed to pay for medical expenses regardless of who’s at fault in the accident. If you have PIP as part of your auto insurance policy, it can cover your medical bills up to the policy limits.
Health Insurance: If your auto insurance doesn’t cover all of your medical expenses, or if you don’t have PIP, your health insurance might step in to cover the remainder. However, it’s essential to note that your health insurance may seek reimbursement if your auto insurance company pays for any portion of the medical bills.

One Challenge Whiplash Victims Deal With: Lack of Insurance Coverage

In any personal injury case, having lots of evidence and proof is important. But if there isn’t enough insurance coverage, it might not help much. This means that how much insurance the other driver has matters a lot when trying to get money for injuries. In Georgia, the required car insurance amount is pretty low. However, there’s some good news for people with whiplash: the insurance that drivers must have in Georgia usually covers whiplash injuries. But if the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have car insurance, it can be really hard for the injured person to get any money.

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