Typical Whiplash Settlement for Car Accident

The average whiplash settlement for a car accident with minor neck and back injuries is around $13,000 to $25,000.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Common whiplash settlement for car accidents

  • Minor Whiplash Approximately: $12,000-$17,000
  • Moderate Whiplash Approximately: $18,000-$28,000
  • Severe Whiplash Approximately: $29,000-$39,000+

Whiplash Settlement: Make a strong claim for money damages

Car accidents occur to millions of Americans annually; 60% result in settlement demands for whiplash. People file whiplash settlement demands with insurance companies daily. However, just because these whiplash settlement demands are made does not mean the claims are paid. Many insurance companies know how to avoid settling for whiplash from car accidents. I used to defend insurance companies against plaintiffs who made injury claims. This article will help you obtain the maximum settlement for whiplash injury from insurance companies for your whiplash injury from a personal injury or car accident.

Because of this, you must know how to create a strong settlement demand for whiplash from a car accident. Knowing what to avoid when making a whiplash settlement with an insurance company is equally essential to understanding how to create a strong case. Please contact our whiplash lawyer after a car accident for a free consultation.

Symptoms that whiplash has occurred

If you have recently been in a car accident and are experiencing whiplash neck pain, it is important to document the injury before making a settlement demand. Whiplash or other neck injuries are most common in a car accident with a sudden jolt of the neck or shoulders. Whiplash can happen in any car accident but is often seen after rear-ending incidents.

Whiplash occurs when your head is thrown backwards and forward from impact or any other incident. The movement is both sudden and quick. The rapid movement of your neck and head can result in bone injuries in the spine, 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 the 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 car accident whiplash victims recover from their injuries in weeks or months, others will suffer from pain for years, whether it be headaches or physical pain.

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

The significance of getting immediate medical care for whiplash

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 rear-ended, you should get immediate medical attention.

If you do not, 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, perhaps a whiplash, 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 you don’t tell the dispatcher or anyone else at the scene that you are fine. Please 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 strenuous activities. Such movements may worsen your injuries, even if you don’t feel the whiplash right away due to adrenaline. Unless you save 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 whiplash pain seems mild, inform them of the whiplash.
  • Have a Medical Evaluation: If you are not taken to the hospital from the scene, it is still important to get a medical evaluation for whiplash. You can be evaluated at urgent care or by your primary physician for whiplash.  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 must inform your insurance providers even if you were at fault. Your insurance company may help you pay some of the expenses or repairs through this. They will also defend you in the case of a lawsuit. Notify them and the other driver if you are planning to file injury claims.

Choosing the right medical professionals

To assess and treat your whiplash neck injuries, you must choose a qualified physician with a good reputation. The first medical evaluation is commonly 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.

You may consider seeing a chiropractor when your whiplash seems to be a limited injury. A chiropractor is a good follow-up option for whiplash injuries because they use hands-on spinal work and treatment to ensure 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 whiplash injury or symptoms do not clear within a few days, you can seek imaging services such as a CT 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 trauma patients and are even qualified to perform specific surgical procedures for whiplash neck injury.

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

Be aware of insurance scams

When filing an insurance claim for whiplash settlement, ensure that the medical care provider is credible before doing so. Any treatments or bills that arouse questions may hurt your claim and compensation efforts.

The whiplash settlement from a car accident insurance claim is based largely on medical bills. However, with this, insurance companies are only required to provide payment for car accident whiplash 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 for whiplash. Having unnecessary medical costs for a car accident whiplash 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 for whiplash than they should be. Because it happens so often, jacking up medical bills for whiplash from a car accident is something that insurance companies look keenly for. Ultimately, you may owe money for whatever the insurance wont settle for whiplash medical treatment. Because of this, it is important that you only use reputable and credible medical professionals to assess your whiplash injury and help in your insurance settlement.

Keep an eye out for insurance company doctors

It is hard for insurance companies to rebuke medical tests and whiplash treatments that a qualified physician ordered, but they often raise questions about medical treatments regardless. Because of the type of injury that car accident whiplash causes, it will not show up on an X-ray or scan very easily. Instead, the diagnosis is usually based on your pain and discomfort and other possible symptoms. Because they cannot be ‘verified,’ insurance companies tend to question these types of injuries.

If your whiplash injury has not diminished after months of treatment, more questions from the insurance adjuster will arise when negotiating settlement. When this occurs, you will be advised to submit an Independent Medical Exam (IME) 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 for whiplash before a settlement.

IME for whiplash are often used to limit settlement amount or deny coverage, especially for car accidents. The physician that the insurance company chooses will have 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 whiplash settlement demand. They will not treat your whiplash 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 for whiplash should be worrisome because the purpose is to lower your whiplash settlement amount. 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 settlement demand

A long battle with an insurance company for whiplash is not something 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: suffer and pay the expenses or file a personal injury claim for whiplash.

Some good evidence that you should have when you file your  car accident whiplash settlement claim include:

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

Some practical steps you should take with your claim include:

  1. 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 the following:
    • Police Reports – The police officers who come to the scene will investigate the crash and file 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 see the other driver doing something they shouldn’t have been, such as texting while 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.

  2. Add evidence to your Claim: The most important thing to prove is that you were injured in the car accident, that the whiplash injury has affected your life, and that it has racked up medical expenses. Evidence of whiplash for settlement can include the following:
    • Medical Records – The costs from medical treatments or evaluations are a large portion of the evidence in your claim. You must collect your medical bills and medical records from anywhere you visited for whiplash treatment. 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 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. Also, keep any documents that note repair bills on your vehicles. Insurance companies know that the more damage evident on your car increases, the likelihood you have a neck injury.
    • Journaling – As soon as you can following the car accident, it is important to write down what you were doing before, during, and after the accident. It is important to document the pain from whiplash so that you may use it for a settlement demand. Continue to keep notes whiplash pain throughout the process to document what you are doing.

What an attorney can do to boost your compensation

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

If you have recovered from car accident whiplash injury, calculate all of your expenses, including medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and any other noteworthy expenses and send a whiplash settlement demand letter with copies of bills and other evidence. However, a personal injury attorney can be of great assistance in the case of a more severe whiplash neck injury. With them, you will be able to get the most settlement amount possible for your whiplash.

Insurance companies will fight hard against whiplash claims that has high costs and long-term effects. In these whiplash cases, they often come up with ‘take it or leave it’ options. Victim of car accident whiplash are not offered fair settlement amount for their injuries, especially if an attorney does not represent them. In these instances, the stakes are too high not to have an attorney on your side. It is free to see what a car accident attorney can do to help you. So, see what that avenue has for you and your compensation before moving forward.

Attorney Brad Nakase is an experienced California personal injury lawyer providing excellent services since 2005.

Have a quick question? We answered nearly 2000 FAQs.

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