How to Get the Most Money for Car Accident for Whiplash Injury

Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Whiplash: Make A Strong Claim for Money Damages

Motor accidents occur to millions of Americans per year; 60% of these resulting in filing claims for neck injuries.

People file claims with insurance companies for whiplash injuries daily. However, just because these claims are made does not mean that the claims are paid. Many insurance companies know the tricks to avoid paying for such claims. I used to defend insurance company against plaintiffs who made injury claims. This article will help you obtain the maximum money from insurance companies for your whiplash injury from a personal injury or car accident.

Because of this, to get the proper compensation for your injury, you must know how to create a strong and found insurance claim. Equally as important to understand how to create a strong foundation is knowing what to avoid when filing an insurance claim.

Symptoms that Whiplash has Occurred

If you have recently been in an accident and are experiencing neck pain, you may be questioning if you are suffering from whiplash or Whiplash Associated Disorder. Whiplash or other neck injuries are most common in an accident where there was a sudden jolt of the neck or shoulders. Whiplash can happen in any accident but is seen after rear-ending incidents most often.

Whiplash occurs when your head is thrown backward and forward from impact or any other form of incident. The movement is both sudden and quick. The rapid movement of your neck and head can result in bone injuries located in the spine, or even muscles, tendons, nerves, and other forms of softer tissue in your back and neck.

Symptoms that you are suffering from whiplash can occur within a couple of days following the incident, but some symptoms may not show up until later. The most common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Pain or stiffness in the neck
  • Increased pain in the neck with movement
  • Limited neck mobility
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in back, shoulder, or arms
  • Numbness in arms

Some other symptoms of whiplash may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Ears ringing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of memory
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression

While the majority of whiplash victims recover from their injuries with the span of weeks or months, others will suffer from pain for years, whether it be headaches or physical pain.

The most common instances of extended pain occur in those who experienced intense symptoms from the starts, older adults, or those who had previous injuries.

The Significance of Getting Immediate Medical Care

More often than not, symptoms of whiplash injuries can be tricky as many symptoms may not occur immediately. If you have been in an accident, particularly if you were rear-ended, you should get immediate medical attention.

If you do not, then you begin to feel symptoms later, your insurance claim can be undermined by the failure to seek immediate attention. Whether or not you are severely injured, a car accident can be traumatic.

Be Protected After a Car Accident

There are many ways to protect yourself following a car accident, including the following:

  • Call 911 and Report the Accident: You can tell the dispatcher that you are in pain and alert them of your location. The dispatcher will question you on whether or not there are dangers at the scene of the accident such as traffic or other problems.
  • Choose Your Words Carefully: Make sure that you don’t tell the dispatcher or anyone else at the scene that you are fine. Do not say that it was your fault or anything else that may come back to hurt you when you are filing an insurance claim.
  • Choose Your Actions Carefully: Do not try to move your car or perform any strenuous activities. Such movements may worsen your injuries, even if you don’t feel them. Unless your actions are saving another’s life, you can get more injured than before.
  • Get Examined by Paramedics: If you refuse to be examined by a medical professional at the scene of the accident, this can have detrimental effects on your insurance claim. Instead, tell the paramedics whether you hit your head, were jolted, or anything else that may have occurred. Even if the pain seems mild, inform them of it.
  • Have a Medical Evaluation: If you do not get taken to the hospital from the scene, it is still important to get a medical evaluation. You can be evaluated at urgent care or by your primary physician.  Be sure to act on this fast because the faster you do this, the more reliable your insurance claim looks. Not seeking a medical evaluation can ruin your chances for compensation.
  • Let the Insurance Company Know: When a vehicular accident occurs, you are obligated to inform your insurance providers even if you were at fault. Through this, your insurance company may help you to may some of the expenses or repairs. They will also defend you in the case of a lawsuit. Notify them as well as the other driver if you are planning to file injury claims.

Choosing the Right Medical Professionals

To assess and treat your neck injuries, you must choose a qualified physician with a good reputation. Commonly, the first medical evaluation is done in the emergency room or by your primary care physician. After that initial evaluation, they may treat you with over-the-counter medications or muscle relaxers. You may be advised to take it easy for a few days because whiplash injuries are usually soft-tissue sprains or strains.

When your whiplash seems to be a limited injury, you may consider seeing a chiropractor. A Chiropractor is a good follow-up option for whiplash injuries because they use hands-on spinal work and treatment to make sure your spine is aligned properly.

While getting medical attention from a chiropractor may relieve a lot of the pain or discomfort, insurance companies are not likely to pay for weeks of treatment from a Chiropractor.

If your injuries or symptoms do not clear up within a few days, you can seek out imaging services such as a CT scan or MRI scan. The results of these scans may have you referred to a specialist.

One form of specialist that may be of interest is an orthopedic doctor. Orthopedic doctors specialize in injuries involving the bones or joints. They are often used with patients of trauma and are even qualified to perform specific surgical procedures.

If your symptoms are severe enough, your doctor may even refer you to a neurologist who specializes in injuries of the brain or nervous system. In the case of whiplash, a neurologist can do studies on your nerves to ensure that your injury has not affected your arms or legs.

Be Aware of Insurance Scams

When filing an insurance claim, make sure before doing so that the medical care provider is a credible one. Any treatments or bills that arouse questions may hurt your claim and compensation efforts.

The amount received from an insurance claim is based largely on the medical bills. However, with this, insurance companies are only required to provide payment for treatment that falls within the American Medical Association’s standards of care’.

Do not be fooled by medical advisors that tell you they can help you win your claim by jacking up your medical bills. Having unnecessary medical costs will not help your claim. It often does the opposite.

Insurance companies are very aware of the scams medical clinics may use to make your medical bills higher than they should be. Because it happens so often, jacking up medical bills is something that insurance companies look keenly for. In the end, you may end up owing money for whatever the insurance doesn’t pay.

Because of this, it is important that you only use reputable and credible medical professionals to assess your injuries and help in your insurance claim.

Keep an eye out for Insurance Company Doctors

It is hard for insurance companies to rebuke medical tests and treatments that were ordered by a qualified physician, but they often raise questions with medical treatments regardless.

Because of the type of injury that whiplash causes, it will not show up on an X-ray or scan very easily. Instead, the diagnosis is usually based off is your symptoms of pain and discomfort along with other possible symptoms. Because they cannot be ‘verified,’ insurance companies tend to question these types of injuries.

More questions from the insurance adjuster will arise if your injury has not diminished after months of treatments. When this occurs, you will be advised to submit an Independent Medical Exam (IME) done through a doctor within the insurance company.

Don’t give in to this right away. Adjusters will try to bully you into getting an IME, but make sure that you have explored every option first.

IMEs are often used to limit or deny coverage on a claim, especially in the cases of car accidents or workers comp. The physician that the insurance company chooses will be one that has consistently sided with them in the past.

Regardless of what they say, the doctor that works for the insurance company is not interested in your best interests. This physician could use anything you say against you in your insurance claim. They will not treat your pain or discomfort but will instead perform an exam to see if your previous physician was incorrect about the extent of your injury.

The only instance in which you must agree to see your insurance’s physician is if your claim is within your insurance. These instances include being in no-fault states or if your claim is going to trial. Refusing to see the physician provided by the insurance company will make your adjustor even more motivated to limit your eligible compensation.

Does this worry you? If yes, then good. An IME should be worrisome because you are likely being asked to see them for your claim to be limited. Do not agree to visit this doctor unless you have no other option and have already discussed the case with a personal injury attorney.

How to Make a Strong Whiplash Claim

A long battle with an insurance company is not something that you want to spend your time on. However, if you are injured and it wasn’t your fault, you should not be liable to pay the piling bills and expenses yourself. You have two choices at that point: suffer and pay the expenses yourself or file a personal injury claim.

Some good evidence that you should have when you file your claim include:

  1. The accident was caused by the other driver.
  2. You suffered from whiplash during the accident.
  3. Document the expenses from your whiplash injury.

Some valuable steps you should take with your claim include:

  • Start with the Scene of the Accident: You can gather evidence that you were not at fault for the accident from the scene of the crash itself. This evidence may include:
    • Police Reports- The police officers that come to the scene will investigate the crash and file what is called a police report. Their report will include diagrams, the officer’s opinion, witness reports, and any other details of value. These can have a significant influence on the claim.
    • Statements from Witnesses-While the police reports may already include the witness statements, you or your attorney can also reach out to these witnesses to get your statements. These can be very helpful if they saw the other driver doing something they shouldn’t have been, such as texting while they were driving.
    • Photographs-Any videos or photos taken of the scene of the accident can be very important to your claim as they provide proof of the wreckage. You can even try to obtain video evidence from security cameras in the area.
  • Add Evidence to your Claim: The most important thing to prove is that you were injured in the accident, that this injury has affected your life, and that it has racked up some costs. This evidence can include:
    • Medical Records- The costs from medical treatments or evaluations are a large portion of evidence in your claim. For this, you must collect all of your medical bills and records from anywhere you visited concerning this injury. It is also important that you hold onto anything you paid for out-of-pocket such as medicine or treatments as well as mileage and fees for visiting the medical professionals. You will be asked to sign a release so that your insurance company can access your medical records. Be sure that you review these release documents before signing them.
    • Damage to your vehicle- after the accident, take good pictures of your vehicle to document any damage caused in the accident. Along with this, keep any documents that note repair bills on your vehicles. Insurance companies are aware that the more damage evident on your car increases the likelihood that you have a neck injury.
    • Journaling-As soon as you can following the accident, it is important to write down what you were doing before, during, and after the accident occurred. Continue to keep notes throughout the process so that you have documentation of what you were doing.

What an Attorney can do to Boost your Compensation

While many cases of whiplash can be negotiated and settled without the help of an attorney, there are some cases in which one is helpful.

If you have recovered from your injury, calculate all of your expenses, including medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and any other noteworthy expense and send a demand letter with copies of bills and other evidence.

However, in the case of a more severe neck injury, a personal injury attorney can be of great assistance. With them, you will be able to get the most amount of compensation possible for your severe injury.

Insurance companies will fight hard against claims that have high costs and long-term effects. With these cases, they often come up with ‘take it or leave it’ options. The victim is not offered fair compensation for their injuries, especially if an attorney does not represent you.

In these instances, the stakes are too high not to have an attorney on your side. It is free to see what a professional attorney can do to help you. So make sure to see what that avenue has in store for you and your compensation before moving forward.

Attorney Brad Nakase is a an experience California personal injury lawyer who has been providing excellent services since 2005.

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