Average Neck and Back Injury Results from Car Accidents
Gregg Hollander | November 14, 2020 | Car Accidents
Neck and back injuries are very common in car accidents. The forces exerted on the body during a collision can be strong enough to cause organ damage, break bones, and damage soft tissues. Because of the violent back and forth motion or twisting motions of the body caused by the force of the impact, the muscles, ligaments, nerves, discs, and vertebrae in the neck and back can sustain severe damage.
Some back and neck injuries heal with time, rest, and moderate medical intervention. However, many car accident victims sustain injuries that result in permanent impairments and disabilities. Victims can pursue compensation for these injuries and their damages by filing a car accident claim against the at-fault driver.
Common Neck and Back Injuries From a Car Accident
One of the most common neck injuries associated with car accidents is whiplash. Whiplash can be painful and restrict movement for weeks or months following an accident. In some cases, the tearing and damage to the soft tissues of the neck result in permanent impairments.
However, car accidents can cause numerous neck and back injuries.
Common neck and back injuries individuals sustain in car accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Slipped or herniated discs
- Contusions and bruising
- Broken and fractured vertebrae
- Soft tissue damage
- Nerve damage
- Spinal stenosis
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Spinal cord injury
Immediate medical treatment is a top priority after a car accident. Prompt diagnosis of a neck or back injury allows doctors to develop a treatment plan that gives you the best chance of recovery. Seeking medical attention immediately after a car crash also increases the chance that you can negotiate a fair settlement agreement for your personal injury claim.
Treatment for Neck and Back Injuries After a Car Accident
The treatment for neck and back injuries depends on the type of injury. For example, minor injuries might be treated with rest and pain medication. Doctors might also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections.
Other treatments for neck and back injuries might include short-term immobilization, traction, physical therapy, and massage therapy. In severe cases, a person might require surgery to treat a neck or back injury.
Individuals who sustain catastrophic injuries that result in paralysis might require ongoing personal and medical care.
Why Should You File a Personal Injury Claim for Neck and Back Injuries?
The insurance claims adjuster might offer you a settlement soon after a car crash. The offer might seem substantial. You might be tempted to accept the settlement offer, especially if you have been out of work during your recovery.
However, be cautious about accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company. If you agree to a settlement, you lose your right to file a personal injury claim for neck and back injuries.
Reasons to consult with a car accident lawyer before accepting a settlement offer include:
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. All drivers must purchase a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. PIP insurance pays 80 percent of your necessary and reasonable medical bills up to the policy amount.
Neck and back injuries can require extensive medical treatment. One surgery can cost well over $10,000. Physical therapy could cost thousands of dollars.
If your injury meets the serious injury threshold, you could receive additional compensation by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. A personal injury claim could result in reimbursement of all medical costs.
Loss of Income and Benefits
PIP compensates victims for 60 percent of their lost wages up to the policy limits. However, loss of income is in addition to medical bills. Therefore, $10,000 will be depleted very quickly.
However, a personal injury claim against the other party can result in compensation for all loss of income and benefits. It can also include loss of earning potential and future lost wages if you sustained a permanent impairment.
Pain and Suffering Damages
No-fault insurance does not compensate victims for their non-economic damages. A car accident claim can include compensation for your:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
Neck and back injuries can cause chronic, long-term pain. You could sustain a permanent impairment that prevents you from working and enjoying the activities you did before the car crash.
How Much Money Will I Receive for My Neck and Back Injury Claim?
The value of your neck and back injury claim depends on the facts of your case. There is not a standard formula for calculating the value of non-economic (pain and suffering) damages. Economic damages are based on the person’s financial losses, the cost of treatment and care, and any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident or the person’s injuries.
Some factors can impact how much your neck and back injury claim is worth. Those factors include:
The Type and Severity of Your Injury
The average settlement amount for a minor case of whiplash will be much lower than the settlement amount for a spinal cord injury. An injury that requires surgery and extensive therapy will be worth more than an injury that heals in a few weeks or months with minor medical treatment. The type of care and the length of your recovery are crucial considerations in the value of your claim.
Your Prognosis and Future Damages
If you sustained a permanent impairment or disability, the value of your claim would increase. The claim includes compensation for your suffering and pain. It also includes compensation for ongoing care and future loss of income.
The Degree of Your Fault for the Accident
If your actions contributed to the cause of the car accident, the value of your personal injury claim decreases. Under Florida’s comparative negligence laws, the compensation you receive for a personal injury claim is reduced by the percentage of fault you have for the cause of the accident.
Amount of Insurance Coverage
If the at-fault driver does not have liability car insurance, you must obtain a personal judgment against the driver. Then you must try to collect the money directly from the driver.
Many drivers purchase liability car insurance. However, the insurance company is only liable up to the policy limits. Therefore, if your personal injury claim is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, you must pursue a personal judgment against the at-fault driver.
The Strength of Your Evidence
The insurance company and the at-fault driver might have one or more valid defenses to allegations of fault and liability. The value of your claim depends on the strength of your evidence. If you have strong evidence proving liability for the car crash, the value of your case increases.
However, if liability is disputed and your evidence does not clearly prove that the other driver is at fault, the settlement amount will be much lower. The insurance company weighs the odds that you could win in court and adjusts the settlement offer based on that analysis.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
Handling a personal injury claim without a lawyer can lower the value of your claim. The insurance company will not tell you the accurate value of your personal injury claim. It will do everything within its power to deny or undervalue your car accident claim.
The insurance company knows that it cannot pull these tricks with an experienced car accident attorney. An attorney knows the value of the claim and the strength of the legal claim.
A personal injury lawyer looks out for your best interests. The attorney fights to protect your right to fair compensation and protects you from bad faith insurance tactics. Hiring a lawyer can increase your chance of a positive outcome in your case.