Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that often happens in car accidents. It can cause a variety of health problems, from neck pain, dizziness and fatigue to blurred vision, depression and memory problems.
These health issues could last anywhere from a few months to a few years, making it difficult to work to support your family and enjoy the other aspects of your life. These issues could be expensive to treat as well, requiring medication and physical therapy.
Fortunately, if the injury was caused by another driver’s careless or intentional actions, you may be able to file an insurance claim or Fort Worth, TX car accident claim to recover compensation for all of the damages caused by your injury, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Whiplash claims, like other claims involving soft tissue injuries, tend to be viewed with suspicion, regardless of the facts of the case.
However, there are a few things you can do to build a solid foundation for a successful whiplash claim.
Symptoms of Whiplash
It may take a day or longer for symptoms to be felt after the accident. If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, watch out for the following symptoms that may indicate whiplash:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder, between the shoulder blades or in the lower back
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the arms or hands
- Tenderness in the shoulders, upper back or arms
- Worsening neck pain when moving
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Headaches that start at the base of the skull
- Sleeping problems
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Blurred vision
- Sleep disturbances
Steps to Take After an Accident
If you were involved in a car accident and believe that you may have suffered whiplash, it is important that you seek medical treatment immediately. This important step could help prevent serious complications.
Additionally, seeking prompt medical attention can help protect your claim and show the connection between your injury and the accident. Your doctor can assess your symptoms, recommend treatment and refer you to a specialist, if necessary.
If you do not seek immediate medical attention, the insurance companies may try to hold this against you by saying your injury is not that serious or not related to the accident.
You should follow your doctor’s orders for home care. You may also be referred to physical therapy or asked to perform range of motion exercises to help treat your injury. Serious cases may require surgical intervention.
Go to the Hospital Right After the Accident
If you were involved in a serious car accident, you should seek medical care immediately, even if you do not feel pain or have reason to believe you were injured. Some whiplash injuries take hours or days to cause pain and other symptoms.
When you discuss the injury with the treating physicians, they will know whether they should look for signs of whiplash. For instance, they will almost certainly check for signs of whiplash if you were in a rear-end collision.
Treating physicians will also know the symptoms of a whiplash injury, such as:
- Numbness in your arms
- Pain in the shoulders, arms or upper back
- Increase in pain when you move your neck
- Limited range of motion in the neck
Not only can the doctor diagnose your injury, he or she may also be able to rule out preexisting medical conditions as the cause of your injury. This could be the linchpin of a successful personal injury claim, as insurers and lawyers for the defendant will look for any reason to pin your injury on something other than the accident.
The other reason you should go to the hospital right after the accident is because waiting tends to make insurance companies, judges and juries suspicious that you are filing a fraudulent claim just to get money.
It is important with any personal injury claim, particularly one involving whiplash, that you do everything you can to show that the accident caused an injury and you are pursuing a legitimate claim.
Start an Insurance Claim Right Away
Insurance companies often have their own deadlines for filing claims so it is best to file a claim as soon as possible so you do not miss the deadline.
Texas uses a fault-based system for insurance claims after car accidents. This means that the at-fault party is responsible for covering damages caused by the accident.
You can still contact your own insurance company. However, your insurer will just end up contacting the other driver’s insurance company to obtain compensation.
There are several best practices when filing a car insurance claim:
- Provide the insurer with the facts – Tell the insurer you were in an accident and provide the date, time and location of the crash. You can also say that you are currently undergoing medical treatment.
- Do not offer opinions – It is best not to state your opinions about the crash or your injuries. The police report and your medical records provide all the necessary information about the crash and your injury.
- Do not attempt to describe the severity of your injuries – The insurance adjuster may ask how much pain you are in and how bad your injuries are. However, claimants tend to minimize the severity of their injuries or the amount of pain they are experiencing. You can politely decline to answer questions about this.
- Do not admit fault – You are not necessarily barred from recovering compensation if you were partially at fault. However, you should not admit fault. You need to let the claims process play out. The facts of the case will determine your percentage of responsibility.
- Do not agree to an independent medical examination – The only time you will be required to do this is if you file a claim with your own insurance company. The doctor who performs an independent medical examination is chosen by the insurance company because he or she will do what is in their best interest.
Stick to the Treatment Plan
After the doctor diagnoses your injury, he or she may prescribe medication and provide other recommendations for treating the injury, such as visiting a specialist, scheduling medical tests and limiting certain activities.
You need to be proactive about following the doctor’s orders. Not only can this help speed up your recovery, it helps demonstrate the seriousness of your situation.
Further medical treatment may also reveal other injuries, or show the true extent of your whiplash injury. The more severe your injury, the more valuable your personal injury claim might be.
Collect as Much Medical Documentation as Possible
Medical records are some of the most important pieces of evidence in a personal injury case. You need records of all doctor’s visits, particularly your initial doctor’s visit after the accident. These records will show your diagnosis along with the doctor’s notes about your visit.
You should also collect records showing your medical condition in the weeks and months before the accident. This helps to rule out a preexisting condition as the cause of your injury.
Obtain copies of x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, blood test results, prescriptions and any other testing or treatment received.
You also need detailed documentation of all the expenses created by your injury. Save all receipts and bills from doctor’s appointments and medical testing. If your claim is successful, you should receive compensation to cover all of those various expenses.
Document Lost Wages
If your injury has caused you to miss work, you may be able to recover compensation for lost wages. Have your employer create a lost wages statement, detailing your regular hours and salary, along with the earnings you have missed out on while dealing with your injury. Without detailed documentation, you will never get back the wages or earnings you lost.
How Much Could a Whiplash Claim Be Worth?
The value of a whiplash claim is a very case-specific assessment. Every case is different and may result in very different outcomes and value determinations. Typically, the more severe your whiplash injuries, the greater the amount of compensation that may be available.
If you suffered whiplash because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be able to receive compensation for damages you suffered, such as:
- Property damage
- Initial medical bills
- Follow-up medical care
- Chiropractor care
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
However, there are various factors that may impact how much your claim may be worth, such as:
- The severity of your injury
- The at-fault driver’s degree of negligence
- How clear liability is
- The strength of your evidence
- Your credibility
- The extent to which your life was impacted by your injury
- How much the insurance company or jury values your pain and suffering
- The personal injury lawyer you choose
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Many people think that they only need an attorney for a personal injury lawsuit, not an insurance claim. However, attorneys can help with insurance claims as well as personal injury lawsuits.
An experienced attorney will have dealt with insurance companies on many occasions in a variety of cases. He or she can speak to the insurance company on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected and your claim is valued accurately.
The attorneys at Anderson & Cummings have handled countless car accident injury claims. We are also well-versed in state laws affecting your claim, including comparative fault laws.
Our personal injury lawyers in FTW will make sure your claim is filed before the personal injury statute of limitations expires. This is a deadline for filing a claim and once it passes you will not be able to file a lawsuit.
Schedule your free, no obligation legal consultation today to find out more about how we can help you.
Call (817) 920-9000 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form today.