| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accidents

Whiplash is one of the most common and misunderstood injuries in the United States today. It’s a common joke that whiplash victims are opportunists playing up injury for a quick buck. However, for many, the long-term pain and disability resulting from these injuries is no laughing matter. Every year, millions of Americans file whiplash claims after car accidents. However, many are unknowingly denied fair compensation for their injuries.

Here, we’ll break down some factors that impact the average settlement for whiplash claims and offer tips for ensuring yours is fair. 

What Is the Average Settlement in Whiplash Claims?

If you’ve been injured, it’s understandable to want to know how much your claim is worth. However, generalizing about typical car accident settlement amounts for whiplash is difficult. For one, any injury claim’s value depends on the specific facts involved in each case. 

Whiplash settlements are also tricky to estimate. Whiplash injuries can have vastly different impacts on different people. Depending on your health and individual situation, the damage to your body can range from mild to debilitating. This means a possible whiplash settlement amount can vary widely from case to case.  

Without the help of a legal professional who can examine your case, don’t assume that any ballpark settlement amount will apply to your specific claim.

What Factors Impact a Whiplash Car Accident Settlement?

There are many different factors involved in calculating a whiplash car accident settlement. Each element can increase or decrease the amount of a potential settlement.

Extent of Injuries

Some whiplash victims recover within a few weeks. For others, recovery can take months and require prolonged medication and outpatient treatment. Studies show that around 50% of whiplash victims still have pain one year after their injury. Up to 25% of victims can experience severe chronic pain and long-term disability. 

The severity of injuries can play a big role in increasing settlement amounts. A longer and more difficult recovery usually means a larger payment.

Economic damages

Economic damages are financial losses you suffer because of an accident. These costs can include:

  • Hospital bills,
  • Ongoing medical treatment,
  • Vehicle or other property damage, 
  • Wages lost during recovery, and
  • Future income loss due to impairment.

A settlement can take into account the costs that arise in the later aftermath of the incident too. For example, if you’ve been receiving long-term treatment for chronic pain or other lingering symptoms of whiplash with physical therapy, a settlement could increase to reflect those additional medical bills.

Noneconomic damages

Some personal losses are more difficult to calculate. A settlement can take into account an accident’s negative impact on your life more broadly. This can include

  • Pain and suffering,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Reduced quality of life,
  • Loss of enjoyment,
  • Disfigurement, and
  • Disability.

Measuring noneconomic damages is a subjective process. No formula can calculate how much the profound psychological and emotional stress of your injury is worth. It’s a good idea to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney who can help you weigh the impact of these subjective factors on your life. 

Negligence and Comparative Fault

If someone else’s negligence was wholly responsible for your accident, that can add to the value of your whiplash claim. Negligence happens when someone fails to act according to the standard of care expected of a reasonably prudent person in a specific situation. For example, when drivers cruise through stop signs without checking for cross traffic, they could be seen as violating their duty to follow traffic safety rules. If you were injured because of their failure to responsibly follow the rules of the road, that can support your compensation claim.

However, your compensation can take a hit if you share some responsibility for the accident. 

Under California law, your injury claim decreases according to the degree of fault you have in the accident. So if your whiplash claim was valued at $10,000, but you were 20% responsible for the crash that caused your injuries, then your claim could be worth only $8,000.

If you believe another person’s negligence caused your injury, be sure you have clear, concrete evidence to back up your claim. This can include police reports, photographs of the scene, and eyewitness testimony from the event. 

Insurance Coverage and Limits

The insurance policy limits of the at-fault party can also impact how much compensation you can recover. California law requires all drivers to have minimum liability coverage of $15,000 for one person and $30,000 for more than one person for bodily injury. 

However, some drivers are still uninsured. And those with minimum insurance may lack sufficient coverage to pay the full cost of your claim. Although you may be able to sue the driver directly for the difference, most uninsured and underinsured drivers lack the resources to pay a judgment. Unless your insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage, you could lose a portion of your compensation.

If you were driving without insurance when the accident happened, you could also be barred from receiving the full amount of a settlement. 

When you’re injured by another person in a car accident, their insurance company may offer you a settlement to resolve your claim. However, be wary of accepting any initial settlement offers. Insurers can underestimate the financial and emotional losses that apply to your situation. If you hear from an insurance company, contacting a lawyer for further guidance before agreeing to anything is best.

For Fair Compensation, Seek Legal Representation 

Ultimately, what’s more important than knowing the average settlement for whiplash? Knowing what makes a fair settlement for your case. Securing the support of an attorney is one of the most important steps to increase your chance of getting the full compensation you deserve.

The personal injury lawyers at the Frederick Law Firm have forty years of experience fighting for Californians. Our award-winning lawyers are prepared to thoroughly examine your case and offer a qualified assessment of the economic and non-economic damages available. 

If you’re unsure if the insurance company’s settlement offer is fair, one of our skilled advocates can negotiate with them to help you maximize your compensation. As a small firm, we prioritize personalized attention that gets results. Contact us online or at our office to speak to a representative today.

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