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What Is the Minimum Compensation for Whiplash?

Experts In This Article
minimum payout for whiplash

Whiplash is a common but painful injury that occurs in many car accidents. Like any other motor vehicle accident injury, you can get compensation for your whiplash injury if another driver caused the accident through their negligence, recklessness, or carelessness.

As your deal with your whiplash, you will likely incur substantial medical bills and other related expenses. You may be wondering, “What is the minimum compensation I can get for whiplash?” There is no set minimum, per se, and many factors affect how much you might be able to recover in compensation from a whiplash accident.

Each case is unique, and the amount of compensation you can get will depend on:

  • The overall cost of your medical bills and treatments
  • Other expenses you incurred from the accident
  • Other painful and difficult impacts on your life due to the whiplash accident

Whiplash is a painful injury, though the extent of its impacts can vary from a mild inconvenience to your life minimal life-long medical care and therapy. If you’ve suffered whiplash due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, you should recover compensation for the expenses and pain you have to deal with as a result.

Reach out to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Read on for more information about whiplash accidents and what factors affect how much compensation you can recover after one.

What is the Minimum Payout for Whiplash?

The minimum payout for whiplash varies widely and depends on the specific circumstances of the case. As each car accident is unique with a wide variety of variables that affect the payout, there is no minimum compensation or standard for whiplash.

How Does Whiplash Happen?

Whiplash is a condition that typically results from injuries to the neck in car accidents. A rapid back-and-forth movement of the head and neck causes it. If a car accident caused your whiplash, it probably occurred because of the force of another car hitting yours. Because your head and neck aren’t secured in place by your seat belt, your neck is likely to jerk forward upon impact and then jerked back once it could no longer extend. This harsh, sudden movement of the neck usually causes at least a minor injury.

Rear-end collisions most commonly cause whiplash, but whiplash can occur in any accident. Whiplash is also common in contact sports and situations that frequently shake or hit people. While estimates vary, most statistics agree that millions of whiplash accidents occur in the United States each year. About 40 percent of all insurance claims in the United States are related to neck sprains, which is another term for whiplash.

Whiplash is not always serious, but treatment for whiplash and related injuries can be expensive regardless. If you have suffered whiplash after an accident, you shouldn’t have to bear the inconvenience and burden of such expenses. You should seek medical treatment early to ensure that you don’t suffer any serious side effects from neglecting treatment. You should also speak with an attorney about your options for pursuing compensation.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Whiplash?

The most common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Numbness in the arms and/or hands

Usually, victims experience whiplash symptoms shortly after the accident, but it can take up to a few days after the accident or sometimes longer for symptoms to appear. Whiplash can be difficult to diagnose, as most of the internal damage does not always show up on X-rays. CT scans and MRIs are usually required to find the tissue damage that may have occurred to your discs and ligaments.

Some people may experience more severe symptoms from whiplash, including ringing in the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision, irritability, emotional changes, and depression. If your larynx or jaw was injured or affected by the whiplash, you may have difficulty chewing, swallowing, and yawning as well.

Whiplash often goes away after a few weeks or months, but it can cause severe discomfort. For some, this discomfort may last for years and result in further complications. Whiplash often coincides with concussions, which is another reason why you must see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure that you didn’t suffer other injuries in the accident.

If you experienced sudden and severe pain after an incidence of whiplash, it is more likely that your symptom will persist chronically. Some factors that may increase the chances your injury could cause chronic problems include:

  • You have a limited range of motion
  • You feel pain in your arms
  • You suffer severe neck pain
  • You have had whiplash before
  • You are older in age
  • You have an existing neck or back injury or pain
  • You suffered whiplash in a high-speed accident

Even though whiplash might not seem severe at first, it can lead to more serious complications. A whiplash accident may also render you more susceptible to whiplash in the future. Whiplash can make work more difficult, whether for active workers who need full mobility or for people with office jobs where they are seated at a computer in a fixed posture most of the day.

If you’ve experienced whiplash due to an accident, seek medical treatment and compensation as soon as possible. This injury is serious, and you shouldn’t feel hesitant to get the treatment and justice you deserve.

What Do I Do After a Whiplash Accident?

As with any injury, recovering compensation for whiplash typically requires filing an insurance claim, a lawsuit, or both. Sometimes, the commonality of whiplash can make it more difficult to file an insurance claim or bring a lawsuit for compensation. However, recovering compensation for whiplash is possible, especially with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer.

If you’re in a car accident someone else caused that resulted in your suffering whiplash, you can make your case go more smoothly by filing a claim with the following in mind:

  1. Seek medical treatment immediately to ensure that you can start your road to recovery as quickly as possible and hedge against defenses that you contributed to the severity of your injury by not seeking treatment.
  2. Keep records of medical expenses, medical reports, and medical diagnoses. You want to make sure that you have records of all expenses and pain and suffering, and clearly connect them to your accident.
  3. Get a copy of the police report from your accident. You want this official report as evidence of what caused the accident, who was present, and other critical information regarding your claim. The police report may also provide the officer’s opinion of who caused the crash.
  4. Gather witness statements and contact information. If you can, do this at the accident scene while everything is fresh in the witnesses’ minds. Witness testimony is often essential in proving who was at fault in an accident.
  5. Call a whiplash injury lawyer for a free consultation. An experienced whiplash attorney will know the dynamics of a whiplash case and can file a motion for the compensation you deserve. An attorney can help you build a strong case to push back against any insurance company reluctant to pay out your claim.

How Does Fault Factor into a Whiplash Case?

What Is the Minimum Compensation for Whiplash?

To recover compensation in a whiplash case, you will often have to prove who was at fault for the accident and calculate a monetary amount to reflect the expenses and losses you experienced because of the accident.

Florida is a no-fault state for auto insurance. No fault means that both parties involved in an accident must rely on their own insurance companies to make claims, no matter who was at fault. Drivers in Florida must carry Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP), which is the immediate source of compensation for all involved in an accident, regardless of fault.

PIP may cover, up to the limits of the policy:

  • Injury-related medical expenses.
  • Lost wages.
  • Other miscellaneous expenses that accrue as you are seeking medical treatment

This means that, in a no-fault state, you can’t always pursue a claim against the at-fault driver, as your insurance company might be able to pay for your expenses. However, Florida offers certain exceptions, such as if you suffered particularly serious injuries like the loss of a bodily function or scarring, or your expenses exceeded a certain amount.

That said, if your whiplash leads to severe and likely permanent injury for you, you often can pursue a claim to recover compensation from the driver who caused your accident.

How Do Insurance Companies Calculate Compensation for Whiplash?

Insurance companies do not have set amounts they offer for injuries, whether you suffered your injuries in a car accident or some other preventable tragedy. Instead, insurers will look at the losses you sustained as a result of the accident and compare that to the insurance policy to determine the compensation you need.

Remember that insurance companies may not automatically pay out the compensation you deserve for whiplash and other injuries, even if you submit a clear account of the losses you have sustained and the challenges you have faced while dealing with those injuries.

In many cases, working with a lawyer can make it easier for you to establish what losses you suffered due to whiplash, including financial and non-financial losses, and the compensation you expect the insurance company to pay out.

Medical Compensation

Medical compensation represents one of the most critical elements of your whiplash claim. Whiplash, particularly chronic whiplash, can lead to extensive medical bills.

You may have gone to the emergency room immediately after your accident, which could leave you facing the cost of ambulance transport as well as the bills from the emergency room itself. In some cases, you may also receive bills for any emergency room scans and tests, including X-rays to diagnose serious neck injuries.

Generally, if you suffered only whiplash in the accident, you will go home with a prescription for medication that will help you manage your pain while you recover. However, in some cases, doctors may recommend a brace to help reduce movement.

If you continue to have symptoms of whiplash after several weeks, you may go through additional tests and treatments to determine whether you sustained other injuries that you did not notice at the time of the accident. Your doctor may recommend that you undergo physical therapy to help you stretch and relieve some of the pain and to help you regain strength. You may also see a chiropractor to help deal with whiplash pain and other symptoms.

If you have chronic whiplash symptoms after your accident, you may need ongoing treatment for those injuries.

Your whiplash injury claim can include compensation for all the medical expenses you had to contend with following your accident.

Wage Compensation

Frequently, injuries like whiplash will keep you out of work immediately after the incident and for some time following it. If you experience extreme pain while trying to complete your work duties, you may have to step away from work while you recover.

You may miss work time immediately after the accident. However, how much time you miss at work may depend on the severity of the whiplash and the duties you have to perform as part of your usual work responsibilities.

For example, someone who does a great deal of heavy lifting or must stay on their feet for much of the day may have a much harder time getting back to work than someone who spends most of the day sitting behind a desk. On the other hand, prolonged time behind a desk can prove detrimental to managing whiplash symptoms. Therefore, you may have to carefully judge the amount of time you can spend at work as you recover.

You may have to miss time because you cannot return to work full-time, even though you can manage some of your job responsibilities. Often, patients with serious whiplash injuries find that they can manage a few hours at work, but not a full day, especially if lesser-known symptoms of whiplash, such as cognitive challenges, crop up during that recovery period.

Also, you may miss work every time you go back to the doctor for follow-up appointments or each time you go to physical therapy.

All that missed time at work can add up, leaving you with decreased income and ongoing financial challenges to go along with the rest of your injuries. As you file your whiplash injury claim, you can include the value of those lost wages.

Compensation for Your Suffering

The greatest losses you face following a serious case of whiplash may have little to nothing to do with your finances. In fact, you may find that your ongoing suffering, including the continuing physical pain of your injuries, causes more challenges than dealing with your financial losses.

You may suffer intense physical pain, and you may have to miss out on the activities you usually enjoyed or used for stress relief while recovering from your whiplash injuries. You may have a hard time with your ongoing limitations, or you may even need to bring in someone else to help you take care of your home or engage in self-care while you recover. The longer whiplash lingers, the more trouble you may have with those limitations, and the more frustration you may feel because of them.

As your lawyer puts together your injury claim, he will likely include compensation for the suffering you have faced due to your whiplash injuries. While compensation for pain and suffering cannot do away with the challenges you have faced, it may make it easier for you to deal with many financial challenges.

How to Maximize the Compensation You Can Recover for Whiplash

Whiplash injuries can prove unexpectedly tricky when the time comes to file an injury claim. Many insurance companies will try to minimize the compensation they have to pay for any injury, especially when it comes to an injury like whiplash, which may not show obvious physical signs. Some insurance companies will even attempt to minimize the extent of your suffering, leaving you increasingly frustrated and unsure about what to do next.

You can take several steps that will help you maximize the compensation you can recover for whiplash injuries.

1. Make sure that you report the accident as soon as it happens.

If you suffer whiplash injuries in a car accident, for example, you should report it immediately to the police. If you suffer injuries in a fall or other premises liability incident, you may want to let the property owner or business know immediately.

Reporting the accident creates a paper trail that will establish what accident you suffered and when it occurred. The report will make it much easier to establish what led to your accident and, as a result, who may bear liability for the incident. By reporting the accident, you help ensure that you will not miss out on the compensation you deserve.

2. Have a doctor document your injuries.

See a doctor regarding any symptoms you may have. If you have a serious accident with obvious property damage or can tell immediately after the accident that you probably suffered injuries, have a doctor look over the injuries as soon as possible.

With whiplash, you may not immediately notice that you sustained injuries. Often, stiffness and pain take a couple of days after the accident to set in. In that case, you should see a doctor to address your injuries as soon as you start to notice symptoms. Contact a doctor if your symptoms worsen after the initial event or evaluation.

3. Document each step in your diagnosis and recovery process.

As you recover from whiplash, you may have a lot of challenges ahead of you. You cannot always predict exactly what your recovery will look like or what steps you will need to take to recover from whiplash injuries.

Document each step of that process. Keep track of your medical diagnosis and any records relating to that diagnosis, including what appointments you need to recover from your injuries. Keep track of your progress. Track your medical bills and any other expenses related to your whiplash injuries. The more records you have, the easier it can prove to show the losses you faced because of your whiplash injuries and, as a result, the compensation you likely deserve.

4. Talk to a lawyer about your right to compensation and how to move forward with an injury claim.

Working with a lawyer can offer your best chance of recovering maximum compensation for your whiplash injuries. A lawyer can help you break down the financial challenges that resulted from your injuries, including what medical bills you’ve had to pay and the other losses you may have had to contend with.

By working with a lawyer, you can also increase the odds that you will recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries, rather than having the insurance company push you into a settlement offer that does not reflect your specific needs.

5. Take care in your interactions with the insurance company.

Your interactions with the insurance company can reduce your ability to recover the full compensation you deserve for your whiplash. Each time you talk with the insurance adjuster, you should pay careful attention to what you say and how you interact with the company.

Do not accept even partial responsibility for the accident.

You do not want the insurance company to decide that you caused part or all of the accident that led to your whiplash injuries. This could reduce or eliminate your ability to recover reasonable compensation for your injuries.

Do not talk about your activities or plans.

The insurance adjuster cannot know how much your whiplash injuries reduce your ability to engage in your preferred activities or what sacrifices you will have to make to continue to engage in your usual activities while recovering. As a result, you should not share information about your plans. The adjuster could take your statements to mean that you have recovered from your whiplash injuries or that your injuries do not create as much suffering as you mentioned in your claim.

Avoid statements about your health or recovery.

Recovery from whiplash takes time. In the meantime, you may have to deal with substantial limitations. You may even have periods when you feel better, then periods when you notice the pain starting to creep in again. Do not make statements about your recovery to the insurance company, since those statements could work against you as you try to pursue the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.

In many cases, you can have your attorney take over communications with the insurance company on your behalf. By deferring all communications to your lawyer, you can avoid making statements that could interfere with your ability to recover as much compensation as possible from the claim.

How Does a Whiplash Lawsuit Progress?

Whiplash claims can take a while to settle, particularly if you have to file a lawsuit rather than simply file a claim with an insurance company. It’s likely your lawyer and the insurance company will do a lot of negotiating to reach a settlement that satisfies all parties. That said, the process of bringing a whiplash lawsuit is fairly straightforward.

Whiplash lawsuits in Florida usually follow a common process:

  1. You call a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation to determine if you have an eligible case.
  2. You meet with the lawyer and discuss the details and evidence you have. At this point, you’ll sign a contract if you decide to go through with the case.
  3. Your lawyer gathers evidence from records, bills, and witness statements.
  4. If filing a claim with insurance fails, your lawyer will file a complaint in civil court on your behalf.
  5. The opposing party will file an answer, which addresses each allegation in the complaint by refuting or admitting to the accusations.
  6. The lawyers will go through a process called “discovery,” which entails all parties requesting and gathering evidence and documentation from the opposing side. Discovery also often involves depositions, which involve calling a party or potential witnesses to answer questions under oath.

At any time throughout the process, the parties can negotiate to settle. The parties may use mediation or arbitration to compromise on terms.

  • If the parties don’t settle, the case can proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the matter.
  • The court will hear each side’s arguments, examine the evidence, and make a final decision on who was at fault. If the court rules in your favor, you will receive an award for damages.
  • A lawsuit can take time to resolve, depending on the complexity of the issues at hand. Most whiplash claims are settled outside of court, but if negotiations break down or the insurance company acts in bad faith regarding your claim, you may have no choice but to take them to court.

    How to Get Started on a Whiplash Claim

    You should pursue compensation for your whiplash accident as soon as possible. All states have a statute of limitations or a deadline by which you must file a lawsuit. Florida now allows you two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit in civil court. If you do not file a lawsuit by that time, you may forfeit any chance you have to obtain compensation.

    If you are in the Orlando area, our Olrando car accident atrorneys can help you with your car accident claim. We can help you maximize the compensation you can recover from your accident.

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