The amount you are entitled to as compensation depends on the grade of whiplash injury you've suffered. However, that's not the only factor that determines how much you may be entitled to.
When calculating the settlement amount, it's always advisable to maximize your compensation. Failure to maximize your compensation can result in serious financial consequences and even debt.
Here's an example.
John gets involved in a car accident and suffers whiplash. He then files a claim against the other driver's insurance company. After receiving compensation, the case is closed, and John goes on with his life.
Weeks and months later, John develops serious back pain. He goes to the doctor, who informs him that the pain is due to whiplash and needs surgery. Unfortunately, he also discovers that the whiplash also caused a brain injury, and he'll need specialized treatment.
As a result, John can't go to work. His health insurance company can only pay up to a certain limit, meaning he'll have to settle the remaining balance out of pocket. He also needs to keep up with his bills, and he's torn between going to work or signing up for the all-important surgery.
But things don't have to be that complicated after suffering whiplash, especially if you seek the help of an experienced whiplash injury attorney. This is because an attorney can help you maximize your compensation, preparing you for any situation that would otherwise drain your finances.
Here are different ways to maximize your whiplash settlement amount.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you've been involved in a car accident, you must seek immediate medical attention. This is not only good for your health but also lays the grounds for the settlement process.
The truth about whiplash is that it's considered a minor injury compared to other injuries that occur due to a car accident. Of course, you can't compare whiplash with physical amputation. However, did you know that some people suffer permanent brain damage due to whiplash?
This explains why it's always important to seek immediate medical attention after a car accident if you feel any pain or discomfort. Some experts even recommend a checkup even if you don't feel any pain because some injuries occur inside the body and may not show any signs until weeks or months later. Whiplash is an example of such an injury — the only difference is that the pain is felt from outside the body.
Another thing you need to know is that experienced doctors can always find ways to spot possible signs of whiplash. So even if you don't feel any pain or discomfort, visiting your doctor for a routine checkup could help identify such warning signs early enough.
Additionally, you need to remember that defense attorneys will try to find a way to dismiss your pain. This is because they always have a defensive approach to every situation. So no matter the amount of pain you have to deal with, defense attorneys will attempt to dismiss your claim. Their job is to save insurance companies thousands of dollars, and they will do anything to achieve that, even if it means taking advantage of legal loopholes to dismiss or reduce your claim.
So if you don't seek immediate medical attention and obtain records of the same, it may be difficult to convince the defense that you actually suffered whiplash or any other injury from the accident caused by their negligent part.
Begin the Claim Process
Initiating the claim process should be the next step after seeking medical attention. It's important to note that you don't have to fully recover from the injury to pursue a claim. In fact, most people file a claim while undergoing treatment.
By filing a claim, it notifies the other party of your injury. Secondly, whiplash injuries, and other personal injury claims, are restricted to a particular window period known as the statute of limitations. Each state has its own statute of limitations for various types of injuries. So if you file a claim outside the statute of limitations, it won't be easy to win.
Filing a claim doesn't necessarily mean accepting a settlement offer. In fact, it's never advisable to accept a settlement offer right away, especially without legal advice. This is because when the case is closed, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to sue the defendant over the same case.
So why would you need additional compensation even after accepting the initial claim? Here's why.
Suppose you suffer whiplash due to a car accident and then accept the initial settlement offer right away. In that case, the other party will close the case, meaning you can't sue them over the same injury again unless they committed fraud somewhere along the way.
Assuming that the whiplash develops into something more serious, such as brain injury. If that happens, you may not be able to sue the defendant again because the case is closed. And if the doctor asks you to stay home for a few months to recover from the injury, you may have to deal with a pile of bills you have no means to pay.
By now, you already know that defense attorneys will always fight for their client's interests. They may even ask you to provide evidence to prove every damage you've mentioned in your claim.
That's where the importance of documentation comes in. This doesn't apply only to medical records - it's important to document your losses and expenses deriving from the whiplash injury. Such expenses include but are not limited to lost wages, medical bills, miles driven, insurance copays, prescription costs, etc. These expenses are usually reimbursable.
Talk to an Attorney
Working with an experienced personal injury attorney significantly increases your chances of receiving the kind of compensation you deserve. This is because an attorney understands the legal requirements of filing such a claim. They also understand different tactics the defense uses to avoid taking financial responsibility for your injuries.
An experienced attorney can help you develop the best legal strategy to pursue compensation. For example, just because the other party accepts financial responsibility for your injury and is willing to settle the case out of court doesn't necessarily mean that you should accept the initial settlement offer. In some cases, filing a lawsuit is a strategic way to maximize your settlement.
Your attorney may propose filing a lawsuit if the other party refuses to settle out of court or disputes your claim. Provided you have a strong case against the defendant, your attorney will always pursue every legal avenue possible to maximize your compensation.