Car accidents are one of the leading causes of back and neck injuries, with over 2 million whiplash injuries reported each year. If you have suffered back or neck injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to receive compensation. However, what is the typical compensation amount for car accident-related back and neck injuries? What are the factors that influence the settlement figure?
Getting a fair settlement depends on many factors – from the severity of your injuries and amount of medical treatment needed to the skill of your car accident lawyer in negotiating with insurance adjusters. On average, minor soft tissue injuries like whiplash may settle for around $3,000 to $10,000 while more serious spinal cord injuries can result in settlements well over $100,000. Read on to learn what goes into a typical car accident settlement for back and neck injuries.
What are Some Common Back and Neck Injuries in Car Accidents?
Back and neck injuries are some of the most common injuries sustained in auto accidents. When a car is hit from the rear or side, the force of the collision can violently whip the head and neck backwards and forwards, straining the soft tissues. This can cause muscle sprains and ligament tears that result in pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility. Sometimes the jolting forces can even lead to more severe damage like slipped disks or vertebrae fractures in the spine.
Some of the most frequent back and neck injuries sustained in auto collisions include:
- Whiplash – This soft tissue injury occurs when the head is suddenly jerked back and forth. It can cause muscle strains, ligament sprains, and inflammation, leading to pain and stiffness.
- Herniated discs – The impact force can cause discs between the vertebrae to rupture or herniate, pressing on nerves. This leads to symptoms like numbness, weakness, and radiating pain.
- Spinal fractures – Major collisions can even fracture bones in the spine, especially in the cervical vertebrae. This requires immobilization and sometimes surgery.
- Spinal cord injuries – Very severe crashes can damage the spinal cord tissue itself. This can result in partial or total paralysis below the injury site.
What Factors Determine the Settlement Amount for Back and Neck Injuries?
Many factors influence how much your car accident settlement will be for back and neck injuries. These include:
- Severity of your injuries – More severe injuries that result in permanent impairment or disability warrant higher settlements. Minor soft tissue injuries generally result in smaller settlements.
- Need for surgery – If your back or neck injuries require surgery like spinal fusion, your settlement amount will likely increase.
- Medical expenses – All your accident-related medical bills and physical therapy costs will impact the final settlement.
- Lost income – The settlement should cover any lost wages if you had to miss work due to the injuries.
- Pain and suffering – You can also receive compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress caused by the injuries.
- At-fault driver insurance coverage – The available coverage limits will cap the maximum payout. Underinsured drivers mean lower settlements.
- Your own comparative negligence – If you were partially at fault, your settlement may be reduced by your percentage of fault.
- Quality of legal representation – An experienced car accident lawyer can maximize your payout through effective negotiation and litigation.
What is the Average Settlement for Neck and Back injury Case?
Determining an average settlement amount for car accident-related back and neck injuries is challenging due to the unique nature and severity of each case. However, some estimates place the national average settlement amount between $14,000 and $28,000 for back injuries and around $15,000 for neck injuries. Settlements below $10,000 are more common for minor soft tissue injuries and strains that resolve relatively quickly with some physical therapy. Severe spinal cord injuries that result in paraplegia or quadriplegia often settle for well over $100,000. You should work with an experienced car accident lawyer to help maximize your settlement.
Factors That Can Increase Your Settlement Value
Certain factors may warrant a higher-than-average settlement, such as:
- Permanent disability due to the injury
- Severe pain that interferes with normal life activities and enjoyment
- Need for multiple surgeries like spinal fusion
- High medical costs, lost income, and damage amounts
- Clear liability and reckless behavior by other driver
Steps to Take to Get a Fair Car Accident Settlement for Back and Neck Injuries
Here are some tips to ensure you receive a fair settlement amount for your back and neck injuries:
- Seek prompt medical attention – This documents the severity right away. Follow all treatment plans.
- Keep detailed records – Save all bills, costs, lost income data, accident photos, and medical records.
- Consult an attorney – A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can deal with insurance negotiations.
- Don’t accept an early quick settlement – Wait until the full extent of damages are known before settling.
- Be ready to negotiate and provide evidence – The insurer may make a low opening offer, but good lawyers can negotiate effectively on your behalf. Providing evidence like witness statements, medical reports, and cost figures helps justify a higher counteroffer.
- Consider litigation if needed – If the insurer refuses a fair settlement, taking them to court may become necessary. A lawyer can advise you on the merits of litigation.
I Was Partially At-Fault – How Does That Affect My Injury Settlement?
One complication that can arise is a shared fault in the accident. Contributory or comparative negligence laws come into play, assigning fault percentages to all drivers involved. Say you were deemed 20% responsible for causing the collision while the other driver was 80% at fault. Your percentage of fault would reduce your eventual settlement amount.
So if your damages were assessed at $100,000, but you were 20% to blame, your payout would be $80,000. The other driver would pay $80,000 while you pay yourself $20,000. Some states bar any recovery if you were over 50% at fault. It gets complex fast, so having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney is crucial to fighting for fair compensation. Don’t agree to any reductions by the claims adjuster without consulting a qualified attorney first.
Even if you were partially responsible, the other driver may still bear the larger share of fault. You deserve to recover losses you weren’t primarily responsible for. A good lawyer will argue against unfair reductions due to comparative negligence and seek maximum compensation under the law. Don’t give up what you’re owed.
The Role of Insurance Companies in a Car Accident Settlement
Insurance companies are vital in car accident settlements, especially when neck or back injuries are involved. After a car accident, the victim’s insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company compensates the victim for their damages. This compensation, known as a settlement, covers various costs like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The severity of the accident back and neck injuries significantly influences the settlement amount. For instance, a severe neck and back injury that results in chronic pain or disability can lead to a higher average settlement for a car accident. Insurance companies will evaluate the medical reports and other evidence presented to determine the extent of the injuries, including common neck and back injuries like whiplash, which is a common injury after a car accident where the neck forcefully snaps back and forth.
However, it’s crucial to remember that insurance companies aim to minimize their payouts to increase their profits. Therefore, the initial settlement offer might not fully reflect the true value of a car accident neck and back injury case. It may not cover the full extent of the medical costs, future care needs, and other losses associated with severe neck and back injuries.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help?
Trust a law firm like Louis W. Grande – Personal Injury Lawyer to provide invaluable assistance following a car accident, particularly if you’ve suffered neck or back injuries. They have a deep understanding of injury law and are experienced in handling similar cases, making them well-equipped to represent your interests.
Firstly, an attorney can accurately estimate the value of your car accident settlement for a neck or back injury. They will consider all relevant factors in negotiating an injury settlement, including current and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the impact of the injury on your quality of life. This can help ensure that the settlement amount for neck and back injuries accurately reflects your damages.
Secondly, a car accident attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They understand insurance companies often use tactics to lower the settlement offer and can counter these effectively. Their negotiation skills can result in a larger settlement than you might receive if you attempted to negotiate on your own.
Moreover, if you have sustained a spinal cord injury or other severe back and neck injuries, you’re likely dealing with significant medical and personal challenges. Having an attorney handle your case allows you to focus on your recovery while they pursue compensation for neck and back injuries.
Finally, an attorney can represent you in court if a fair settlement cannot be reached. They will present your case, showcasing how you were injured in a car accident and the impact of these injuries on your life, to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How does being a passenger in an accident affect an injury claim?
Passengers can also file injury claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance. As an innocent passenger, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. Hire an attorney to help negotiate your passenger injury settlement.
Can pre-existing conditions impact a back injury car accident settlement?
Yes, insurers may argue a lower settlement if you had prior back problems that were aggravated by the accident. Experienced injury lawyers can fight to prove the accident directly caused or worsened the back problems using medical evidence and accident mechanics. A good settlement is still very possible.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a car accident back injury claim?
The deadline to file a back injury claim after a car accident depends on your state laws, but ranges from 1 to 6 years in most states. Contact a personal injury attorney immediately to avoid missing your state’s strict claim filing deadline.
How much compensation can you get for aggravating an old back injury in an accident?
Even if a collision only aggravated or worsened an existing back condition, you can still potentially recover damages. An attorney can help claim compensation for medical treatment needed, increased pain and suffering, lost wages if missing work, and other accident-related losses.