If you’ve suffered whiplash from a car accident, you may want to know if you have a case. You also may want to know how much its worth.
This article will answer these questions.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury due to powerful, fast back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.
Here are the basics of a whiplash case.
You Need Negligence to Have a Personal Injury Case for Whiplash
As with any personal injury case, another driver’s negligence must have caused your whiplash. If another driver wasn’t at fault, the injured person can’t get money for pain and suffering.
If another driver was at fault, you may still qualify for personal injury protection (‘PIP’) benefits.
Insurance Companies Place Heavy Weight on Property Damage
Whiplash cases are often based on the injured occupant’s testimony. Often times x-rays, CT scans and MRIs don’t show any problems in your neck.
The careless driver’s insurance company will look at the extent of property damage to the vehicle(s) involved. Insurance companies usually offer more money for pain and suffering if the vehicle(s) involved were badly damaged.
This is because a jury is more likely to relate the claimant’s neck injury to the accident.
Neck Pain Complaints Shortly After the Accident Help the Case
All things equal, the sooner that you complain of whiplash (neck pain) after an accident, the better the case. This is because your doctors can argue that your neck pain is related to the accident.
The adjuster will likely think that your whiplash claim is fishy (not real) if you first complaint of neck pain to a doctor isn’t until 4 months or so after an accident.
Whiplash Must Be Permanent to Get Money for Pain and Suffering*
*In most Florida car accident cases, a doctor must say that your whiplash (neck injury) is permanent in order for you to be entitled to pain and suffering compensation. Hopefully, your treating doctor will say that the crash caused your whiplash.
The careless driver’s insurance company will likely hire a doctor who will say that whiplash usually goes away in 4 to 6 weeks. Their doctor will typically say that your whiplash is not a permanent injury.
The insurance company will likely argue that you’re not entitled to pain and suffering.
Certain Insurance Companies Offer Little in Minor Impact Whiplash Cases
Several insurance companies are known for making low offers in Florida whiplash cases where there was a minor impact.
Car insurance companies that aren’t licensed in Florida may offer more money to settle your whiplash case. The bad news is that most Florida car accident cases involve car insurers that are licensed in Florida.
More Treatment May Lead to Higher Settlement
Car accident victims – with whiplash – who get more medical treatment will generally have higher out of pocket medical bills. This increases the full value of the case.
More medical visits treatment may also lead to more pain and suffering compensation. If you’re given prescription pain relievers and muscle relaxers, this increases the full value of the case.
Whiplash Cases Typically Are Better if the SUV or Pickup Truck Rolls Over
If your SUV rolled over during the crash, a whiplash claim typically is worth more. This is because the impact is usually harder, and these cases are more “exciting” to a jury.
Driver Gets $20,000 for Whiplash from Rollover Crash
James (not real name) was driving a truck (see photo above). Another driver made a left hand turn in front of him.
James’ primary injury was whiplash. Progressive paid James $20,000 to settle his personal injury case.
Case is Better if the Careless Driver Was Drunk
If the other driver was arrested for drunk driving, your whiplash case is typically worth more. This is because you can make a claim for punitive damages, which adds value to your case.
Whiplash Cases May Be Worth More If You’re on a Motorcycle
A whiplash cases may be worth more if you’re on a motorcycle when you’re hit in Florida. This is because you then don’t need a permanent injury in order to be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.
Big Rig Truck Insurers May Pay More for Whiplash Cases
Large trucking insurance companies have a reputation for paying more money – than car insurers – to settle whiplash cases. This is because trucking claims adjusters are used to settling big cases.
Is a Herniated Disc Worth More than Whiplash?
All things equal, yes. Herniated discs can be seen on an MRI and sometimes a CT scan. Herniated discs have a higher settlement value than whiplash.
Will Surgery Increase the Value of a Whiplash Case?
Whiplash treatment rarely requires surgery. However, surgery is appropriate in serious cases if you have consistent neck or shoulder pain.
If your condition hasn’t improved after a lot of non-surgical treatment, an operation may be your best bet.
Surgery increases the full value of the personal injury case.
Do Nerve Blocks Increase the Value of a Whiplash Claim?
Yes, they increase the full value of the pain and suffering part of the injury claim. Let me explain.
Let’s assume the you’re in a car accident. It could be a head-on or rear end accident.
You have a neck injury. You have two nerves, extending from C1, that are causing you pain.
The doctor gives you a nerve block. Nerve blocks are used for pain treatment and management. Often a group of nerves that causes pain to a specific organ or body region can be blocked with the injection of medication into a specific area of the body. The injection of this nerve-numbing substance is called a nerve block.
All things equal, getting a nerve block increases the full value of the pain and suffering part of the claim.
Ask the Doctor to Video the Nerve Block Procedure
When I’m representing a client in a car accident case, I ask my client to ask their doctor if he or she will video the nerve block.
Then, I send the video to the liable party’s insurance company. I have found that these videos can increase settlement value.
For example, I settled a car accident claim for $100K where my client was in a car accident.
She had a nerve block in her lower back. (I’m using the back in the example. However, the value would be similar if the nerve block was to her neck.)
Her doctor’s office staff took a video of the procedure. GEICO insured the at fault driver. I sent this video to GEICO.
GEICO paid the $100K bodily injury liability insurance limits. My injured client also had a nose fracture. She didn’t have surgery on his nose fracture.
However, as in any injury claim, many factors may decrease or increase the value of a personal injury claim.
Which Car Insurance Companies Pay Less for Whiplash Claims?
Certain insurance companies are known for offering less money for pain and suffering for whiplash.
These include State Farm, GEICO, Progressive, Infinity and many others. To get fair value (for your injury) from one of these companies, there is a greater chance that you’ll need to sue.
Sadly, Progressive insures Uber in Florida.
On the other hand, some insurance companies have a reputation for paying above average for whiplash cases. These “better” insurance companies include The Hartford, Nationwide, USAA, Chubb, Crum & Forster, Hanover and many others.
Zurich insures Lyft vehicles. Zurich is above average for paying out on whiplash claims.
How Does the Value of a Whiplash Compare to a Broken Bone?
Al things equal, the full value of pain and suffering for whiplash is worth less than a fractured bone. For example, a broken leg is usually worth more than whiplash.
Do You Have Whiplash or Another Injury from a Florida Accident?
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Jose A. says
I was rear ended in a car as a passengers at a gated communities waiting to to get to security check point. All of suddenly a car slams into three car I was a passengers in.
I was taken to a Jacksonville local hospital for lumber and neck pain. Here, in Jacksonville, Florida police reports is XXXXX, claim # is XXXXXXXXXX phones numbers of representatives xxx_xx_xxxx Allstate.
My name is Jose. Phone no xxx_xxx_xxxx. call me for further information.