In a whiplash injury claim, victims are forced to take certain legal steps to retain their ability to recover compensation for damages caused by another negligent party. Though most whiplash injury claims are settled well before going to trial, the best chance a victim has in obtaining a settlement offer may be through filing a lawsuit against potentially liable parties and then working on negotiating a settlement.
The nature of damages relevant to whiplash injuries also factor into the timing filing a claim or lawsuit. In most cases of whiplash injuries, the true extent of the physical damages suffered by a patient, most notably to their soft tissues in the cervical (neck) region, are not readily apparent immediately following an accident or injury. Often, the full extent of symptoms may take several days up to a week to be recognized by both patients and legal professionals. Moreover, this is only applicable to relatively minor whiplash injuries, whose symptoms will likely dissipate on their own in due time.
In more serious cases, whiplash injuries can pose prolonged and immediate medical issues for victims. Though often written off as nuisance claims, whiplash injuries are actually very serious medical injuries, depending on the extent of the over extension of the soft tissues and ligaments in the neck. The cervical region is integral for appropriate mobility and physical comfort, and any significant alteration or damage to this region in a victim does pose potentially lifelong complications affecting their physical ability to move and live free of pain. Like other soft tissue injuries, though, whiplash is hard to document in medical records (it doesn't show up on x-rays or other diagnostic tools) making the claims process a little more difficult.
Again, only an attorney can accurately advise victims on the best method to pursue legal claims related to whiplash personal injuries. However, most often, filing suit against negligent and potentially liable parties is one in a number of steps that may ultimately lead to a settlement offer. In many cases, victims must first recognize and document the damages relevant to their claims before notifying any party of their intent to sue. In addition, a plaintiff (victim) should also evaluate their claim from a legal standpoint, asking whether a given claim is actually viable or not.
For some tips, please see Making an Injury Claim for Whiplash After an Accident.
Settlement values or trial verdicts for whiplash vary greatly, but most cases or mild to moderate whiplash will be valued between $2,500 and $10,000. More serious cases involving treatment (typically physical therapy) over several months may cost the defendant upwards of $30,000. Neck injuries beyond soft-tissue damage, affecting the nerves or vertebrae, can easily wind up with settlements or verdicts exceeding $100,000.
Only an attorney can advise victims of whiplash injuries with any amount of success. Without the use of an attorney or lawyer for their personal injury claims related to whiplash injuries, victims will most likely fail to file viable claims against liable parties or will be grossly unprepared to handle any claims settlement negotiation in a favorable manner. Consult with legal counsel to confirm, retain, and pursue your legal rights following a whiplash accident and injury.