In this post, the Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner team will explain how to recover compensation for a whiplash claim when the accident was not your fault.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. In the United States, around 90% of injuries in rear-end crashes are neck injuries, which include whiplash. Symptoms of whiplash can include the following:
- Neck pain,
- Loss of range of motion in the neck,
- Shoulder pain,
- Difficulty moving, and
- Tingling or numbness in the arms.
Whiplash injuries can resolve quickly or be ongoing. They can impair your ability to work and engage in daily tasks. When another driver’s negligence caused your whiplash injury, you may want to pursue a whiplash claim.
How Do I Claim Whiplash?
Making a whiplash claim can be an effective way to seek compensation when you’re not at fault. But you must meet a few criteria to bring a whiplash claim.
Washington requires all motor vehicle drivers to exercise reasonable care to avoid harming others while driving. To get compensated for your losses, you must prove that the other driver failed to operate the vehicle as a reasonable person would have. Obtaining the police report and statements from witnesses can help prove fault.
Washington is an “at-fault” state. This means the driver who caused your injuries is responsible for any damages. Washington is also considered a pure comparative fault state. This means that you can still recover some of your losses if you were partially to blame for the accident. Your percentage of contributory fault reduces your damages. For instance, if you were 20% at fault, you would likely be able to recover 80% of your damages.
Insurance company involvement
Because Washington is an at-fault state, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is typically responsible for covering costs. However, be advised that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely make you a lowball offer to try to settle immediately. They are hoping you will take the immediate money and not stop to think about whether your case is worth far more. And once you accept a settlement, you cannot go back for more money regardless of how much more your injuries cost you over the years. An experienced car accident lawyer knows the tactics used by insurance adjusters and will ensure that they do not take unfair advantage of you.
Providing Proof of Your Damages
The whiplash claim process involves proving that you suffered losses from your injury. When you sustain injury, and it results in financial harm, this financial harm is called “damages.”
If you were rear-ended and did not seek medical attention or miss any work, you are unlikely to recover money because you did not suffer losses.
You will need to be able to prove your injury and resultant losses. This is particularly relevant with whiplash. Whiplash, and other soft tissue injuries, can take several days to become apparent. So be sure to see a doctor right away, follow all advice, and document everything—including all your medical and other costs. Keep your medical bills in a safe place, and be ready with pay stubs or records if you want to claim lost time at work. If you are seeking less tangible damages, like pain and suffering, they will be more challenging to evaluate and prove. Your lawyer will know how to successfully prove these subjective damages.
How Are Whiplash Claims Assessed?
Whiplash injury claims are assessed based on the severity and permanency of your injuries. The more permanent and severe your whiplash injury, the greater your damages. The most severe cases of whiplash can cause extreme hardship and alter your life. In such cases, recovery can be substantial.
A damage assessment is based on total economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages represent out-of-pocket costs and may include:
- All medical expenses relating to the injury,
- Lost wages, and
- Loss of future income and earning capacity.
Noneconomic damages are less tangible and can consist of the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress, and
- Loss of quality of life.
While not every claim for whiplash results in a personal injury claim or lawsuit, it’s best to speak with an experienced lawyer to review your options.
Need Help Filing a Whiplash Claim in Washington? Contact Us
If you sustained whiplash injuries in a car accident, Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner is ready to help. Whiplash claims can be challenging to value. They often require a strong firm that is prepared to stand up to big insurance companies. Our experienced personal injury legal team has over 40 years of experience representing clients injured by the negligence of others. We can put our experience to work for you. If we determine you have a case, we will be your zealous advocate every step of the way to seek the compensation you deserve. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.