Every car accident is different. The total compensation available for a Washington whiplash claim depends on your losses. The primary factors determining how much you can get for a whiplash claim include:
- The nature and severity of your whiplash injury,
- Liability for your whiplash claim, and
- Whether you work with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident. If you experienced whiplash from an accident, please contact a Washington car accident attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner. Discussing your case with a lawyer will give you a better idea of what your case is worth. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash, neck sprain, or neck strain all mean the same thing. Whiplash can be defined as an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It’s a neck injury due to forceful, rapid, back-and-forth neck movement, like the cracking of a whip.
Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) is the name given to the range of whiplash injuries. WAD is graded on a numerical system from zero to four, with zero being the least severe and four being the most painful and life-changing.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash can develop immediately or over time. The rapid, forceful motion from whiplash can injure bones in the spine, disks between the bones, and other tissues in the neck. Signs and symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain;
- Worsening of pain with neck movement;
- Reduced range of motion in the neck;
- Pain in the shoulder, upper back, or arms;
- Blurred vision;
- Memory problems;
- Sleep disturbances;
- Fatigue; and
Getting a prompt and accurate diagnosis is essential for your medical recovery. It is also critical for your personal injury case. Documenting your losses and medical records is critical to your personal injury claim.
What Is the Average Settlement for Whiplash?
You can find average settlement figures for a whiplash claim with little effort on the internet. But since each case is different, averages don’t really mean much. You can only get a reasonable estimate for your unique case with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
A skilled personal injury attorney can help answer the question: What is the average settlement payout for whiplash injury? And to come up with an estimate, professionals look at several factors.
Liability for a Whiplash Injury
Determining who is at fault is a critical consideration in all personal injury claims. To get compensation for your whiplash injury, you must prove that the other driver was at fault and that the accident caused your injuries. The stronger your case, the more likely you will get a higher settlement. This is especially true when the other side’s liability for your injuries is clear.
Washington has a mandatory auto insurance law, and to drive legally, motorists must purchase at least the minimum liability coverage amounts. Washington is a “fault” insurance state, which means you can file a claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The insurance carriers begin investigating as soon as they are notified. You will need to pursue your case immediately, too.
The value of your losses is one of the biggest determining factors in your settlement amount. Car accident victims in Washington may recover for the following damages:
- Medical expenses,
- Pain and suffering,
- Lost wages, and
- Property damage.
Medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages are relatively easy to calculate, as you can simply add up invoices, receipts, bills, and pay records. But less tangible losses like pain and suffering are trickier to calculate. Your attorney will know how to properly estimate such objective losses to come up with a fair settlement amount.
The Severity of Your Injury
After proving liability, the most significant factor in determining a fair settlement for whiplash is the severity of your injury. The more severe your injury, the higher the potential settlement amount. And your settlement value could drastically increase when you experience whiplash coupled with other injuries, such as brain injury.
Medical professionals grade whiplash injuries on a scale based on the extent of the injury. The whiplash grades are as follows:
- Grade 0—no complaints about the neck;
- Grade 1—neck complaints, stiffness, and tenderness only;
- Grade 2—neck complaint and musculoskeletal signs, including decreased range of motion;
- Grade 3—neck and neurological symptoms, including decreased range of motion and point tenderness; and
- Grade 4—neck complaint and fracture or dislocation.
The more severe your injury, the more treatment usually costs. Therefore, severe injuries often result in larger settlement amounts.
Most people recover from a whiplash injury in a week or less. Even serious cases typically resolve within a few months. Some whiplash injuries, however, persist. If your symptoms and pain linger, your settlement value will likely be higher.
Risk factors for long-term whiplash
Some people have chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications from whiplash. Risk factors for long-term whiplash injuries include the following:
- High-speed injury from behind,
- Older victims,
- Preexisting degenerative changes,
- Prior whiplash injury, and
- Lack of awareness of the impending impact.
Medical literature indicates that known risk factors help explain why some accident victims are more susceptible to long-term pain and complications than others. When you experience a higher grade of whiplash with persistent discomfort, you can expect a higher settlement amount.
Working with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
When you’ve experienced severe injuries from a car accident, seeking legal counsel is wise. In a case involving whiplash injuries, this is especially true because nailing down the settlement value of whiplash injuries is difficult.
Predictably, when an insurance company is involved, they will employ tactics to minimize the value of your claim. They know that whiplash is not considered a severe injury in most cases, and they do everything in their power to give you the lowest amount of money possible.
Unrepresented accident victims rarely get their full compensation. Reaching out to a personal injury attorney significantly increases your chances of recovering the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact Our Washington State Car Accident Attorneys
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we can help you secure the compensation you deserve for your Washington car accident. It’s what we do. While you focus on recovery, we can build your case and deal with the insurance company’s tactics for you.
The attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner have over 40 years of legal experience representing injured victims. We are proven and knowledgeable Washington car accident attorneys. If you suffered a whiplash injury caused by someone else, reach out to discuss your legal options. Give us a call or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. Our firm has several offices in Washington State, including Seattle.