Settlements for whiplash injury claims are determined by a formula that evaluates how much a plaintiff’s pain and suffering are worth. Along with these intangible losses, whiplash settlements commonly include actual expenses paid out after a neck injury in a car accident. Medical bills, rental car expenses, and lost wages are all considered in whiplash settlements. Some cases are resolved between auto insurance companies, while others end up in court to determine the proper compensation to the victim.
Whiplash settlement cases decided in courts consider both general and special damages claimed. Special damages include loss of earnings or potential earnings from any disability caused by the injury. If the victim had to hire someone to care for him or her during the recovery period, that expense is considered a special damage. All medical and auto expenses fall under this section of the claim.
General damage whiplash settlements are not as straightforward. Some courts and insurance companies use set guidelines to evaluate what dollar amount to award for pain and suffering. These guidelines also take into account any psychological effects the patient may have experienced from the car accident, including depression. Loss of enjoyment of life is another factor that falls under the general damage claim of whiplash settlements.
Some people who suffer whiplash injury in an accident agree to settle directly with an insurance company instead of filing a claim in court. The insurance company decides how much the physical and emotional harm is worth and makes an offer to the victim. If the offer is accepted, the claim cannot be re-opened later if additional expenses are incurred. Some whiplash settlements are paid out in installments instead of lump-sum compensation.
Many whiplash injuries occur during an auto accident when a vehicle is hit from the rear. The impact causes a forceful back and forth movement of the head, causing injury to the tissues that support the neck or back. Whiplash payments have also been awarded to those who suffer neck injuries on airplanes, trains,or buses. Whiplash injuries can also happen in a sudden stop that jerks the neck.
Damage to the soft tissues surrounding the neck and spine account for most whiplash claims. These injuries can be minor or severe, depending on whether the vertebrae are compressed or nerves have been pinched. Pain and suffering might continue for years after the accident, or may be relieved quickly with medication and rest. These factors make whiplash settlements difficult to compute.
The plaintiff in a whiplash case generally produces documentation and medical records to support his or her injury claims. If long-term rehabilitation or physical therapy is needed, a doctor’s recommendation can authenticate those claims. The difficultly arises when trying to evaluate how much pain the victim is suffering or will suffer in the future from whiplash, and how much that pain is worth.