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Accidents are a daily occurrence in human life. You try to take safety measurements to ensure that you're not a victim of one or that you cause one. However, sometimes, no matter how much you try, you might still be a victim of accidents.

Whiplash is one type of injury you could sustain from accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 272,464 whiplash injuries occur annually. This article explores what whiplash is and how you can get compensation if you get a whiplash injury.

You can contact a Houston car accident attorney to find out more about navigating a whiplash injury case.

What Is Whiplash?

can i get compensation for whiplash in a car accident?

When you are in rear-end collisions, your neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons can contract suddenly, causing the tissues to stretch further than usual. It could result in a neck sprain, or strain called a hyperflexion or hyperextension. This is what we term whiplash. This injury has its name because of the rapid movement of the neck, much like a whip. 

Unlike other injuries from car accidents, whiplash is a soft tissue injury and might not be visible. This, however, does not mean that its effects are not as severe as other injuries. Whiplash can result in minor injuries such as mild neck pain and more severe injuries like nerve damage, chronic neck pain, etc.

If your car has a bumper or safe seats, you have lower chances of sustaining whiplash. According to a study conducted by the International Institute of Highway Safety,  driver neck injury rates were 15% lower for vehicles with seats rated good than vehicles with seats rated poor.

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash occurs in a lot of vehicle crashes, whether minor or major. Common symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in the neck area or arms
  • Shoulder pain or stiffness
  • Splitting headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back stiffness
  • Memory loss
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Loss of concentration

To treat whiplash, you might need to take medication or receive treatment from a chiropractor. Other times, you might need electrical stimulation, physical therapy, or orthopedic care.

Can I Get Compensation for Whiplash in a Car Accident?

Getting compensation for sustaining a whiplash injury in a car accident is possible. This will cover follow-up care, medical expenses, emotional distress, mental anguish, etc. However, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure that you get a fair settlement for your damage. These include:

Seeking Immediate Medical Care

It is essential to seek medical attention as soon as you leave the accident scene. Even if you do not feel like you have any physical symptoms of whiplash, you should still see a doctor. If a doctor eventually treats you for whiplash due to the accident, ensure that you keep all medical records. Postponing the hospital visit is not always a good idea. You might experience severe pain at a later date when you could have gotten treatment immediately. When filing a claim for maximum compensation, the other party might argue that you did not sustain your injury from the car crash. The insurance company may also claim that you had a preexisting condition responsible for your whiplash claims. This might be hard to disprove if there are no medical records to back you up. As such, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Completing Your Treatment

You must follow your medical treatment plans as directed by your doctor. This will ensure that you do not unnecessarily lengthen your recovery process. It will also indicate to the insurance company that you are suffering a severe injury caused by the accident. If you put off your treatment plan, you might be creating a loophole for the insurance company to argue that your damage was not severe. If you also discontinue the treatment, you might receive less compensation than you initially would have.

Documenting the Injury

To get compensation for a whiplash sustained from a car accident, you would need to have evidence. As such, you should collect all the crucial evidence that you can from the accident. This includes the following:

  • Pictures From the Accident Scene: If it is possible, take photos from the accident scene. It is the sort of evidence that your lawyer would need to prove your case.
  • Records of Expenses: You must ensure that you keep all records of medical costs. This helps you estimate how much you have spent and how much compensation you would require from the other party’s insurance company. If you had to miss work and thereby lost wages in the process, you should also present the records.
  • Medical Records: If you have medical records before the accident, they will come in handy to prove that you were not suffering from a pre-existing condition before the accident. Insurance carriers usually pull this card to disprove your case or to offer you less compensation than you should get. Records of medical treatment from after the accident should also show that you sustained a severe injury that required medical attention.. All of these records give the insurance company a view of your losses and the compensation you deserve.

Getting maximum compensation from the fault driver’s insurance company can sometimes prove more challenging than usual. Seeking assistance from your legal representation could make all the difference. You can get guidance from a skilled Houston car accident attorney on what process to follow to ensure that you recover all the damages you incurred.

What You Need To Do When Filing an Insurance Claim

a man suffers from whiplash after an accident

Insurance companies have deadlines for filing whiplash injury claims. You must file a claim as soon as possible after the accident to ensure that you meet this deadline. When filing your claims, you must ensure that you do the following:

  • Share Accurate Details: When you file your claim, you must ensure that you give the most detailed account of the accident. Share the location of the accident, time, and date. You can also share details, such as the name of the hospital where you are receiving treatment. If the insurance company asks you questions that you are not comfortable with answering, you can defer until you speak to your accident attorneys about it.  An experienced Houston car accident attorney will advise you on what to say to the insurance company to ensure that you do not jeopardize your chances of receiving fair compensation.
  • Do Not Admit Fault: Whatever you do, you must never admit fault. Just like what you say to the police can be used against you, what you say to the insurance companies might also disprove your case. Let the investigation unearth the facts of the case.
  • Do Not Undergo a Medical Exam at the Insurer’s Recommended Hospital: The at-fault party’s insurance carrier might ask accident victims to undergo a medical examination in a hospital of their choice. Do not agree to this request. This is because it is likely that the hospital has affiliations with the insurer and will act in the insurance company’s favor. 

What Factors Determine Your Compensation?

Every case of whiplash is different; as such, compensation for whiplash differs from claim to claim. How much compensation you can receive for sustaining whiplash in a car accident depends on several factors. These include:

  • The Severity of the Injury

Type and severity of injury are usually some of the determiners of the compensation you can claim for whiplash. In most cases involving mild whiplash injuries, you could claim between $2500 to $10,000. However, in more severe cases, such as when you need surgery or in the case of permanent disability, you could claim as much as $100 000.

  • How Long It Will Take or Took You To Recover

It is essential to document the time it takes between the accident and your recovery date (if you have already recovered). And if you are still receiving treatment for whiplash, you should also ensure that you get a medical practitioner to give you an estimate of the time it would take for you to recover. 

Apart from medical expenses, you can claim damages for physical pain and suffering. Insurance companies might try to offer you compensation based on what they consider to be the average time of recovery for your injury. You must ensure that your payment is based on the facts that apply to your own case.  

  • Expenses Incurred Due to the Injury

You should consider all the expenses you have incurred, whether medical or otherwise, while making or accepting a claim from the at-fault party's insurance company. This includes pain medication, payment for tests, the cost for an ambulance, physical therapy, or any purchases you might have needed to make to ensure that you heal. 

  • Lost Wages Incurred Due to the Injury

Sometimes, you might have to take some days or even a more extended time off due to the injury. This might cause you to lose some of your wages, especially if you cannot secure paid leave. You can offset this cost by the compensation you receive from the insurance adjusters. As they might try to argue against this, you must ensure that you have proof that you lost wages during this time.

  • The Injury’s Impact on Your Ability To Do Work

If the injury you sustained will considerably impact your ability to do work, then you might have a chance to claim more compensation. In the case of permanent disability, you might never be able to get back to your former job. If this was a direct result of the injury, you and your lawyer can estimate the cost of this and demand a settlement that covers it.

  • The Extent of the Damage to the Vehicle

You can claim more compensation based on the damage to your vehicle or other property damage. Unfortunately, sometimes insurance adjusters take this to be an indication of the severity of the accident. If your car was not damaged or the damage was minimal, it could be more challenging than usual to make a case for fair compensation. However, with a great Houston car accident attorney, you can cross these hurdles. Eye-witness reports, medical reports, and test results will also be beneficial to prove your case.  

  • What Sort of Damages You Are Claiming

You can also calculate compensation by combining the amount you will receive for both general and special damages. General damages are payouts insurers make to cover medical costs and the medical care you need while you recover.

General Damages payouts relate to the severity of your injuries and the care you may require while recovering. All out-of-pocket expenses you may incur because of your injury are special damages. After the insurers consider these facts, they can offer you compensation.

  • What Documents You Have To Prove Your Injury

To prove a whiplash injury, you need some documents. These include current and past medical records, x-rays, emergency room records, prescription costs, a police report, records of medical care, etc. A Houston car accident attorney will use these records to prove to the insurance company that you sustained an injury in the car accident. A lack of these records might make your case harder to prove.

a man suffers from whiplash after an accident on a texas highway

Contact a Houston Car Accident Attorney

If you have sustained a whiplash injury during a car accident or know any whiplash victims, you should contact us today. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers in Houston at Calhoun Meredith will work with you to file your personal injury claims. We will ensure that you get compensation for medical bills, other expenses you have incurred due to the injury, and pain and suffering.

We will also support you in gathering all the evidence you need to ensure that you get an adequate whiplash injury settlement. Schedule a free consultation with us today. 

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