Whiplash is a type of injury that occurs when an impact causes an individual’s neck to whip backward and then forward suddenly and forcefully. This is a common type of car accident injury, often associated with a rear-end collision.
If you’ve been in an accident in Colorado and suffered whiplash as a result, you may wonder how much compensation you’re eligible to receive. While there’s not a universal payout amount that applies to everyone, there are some general numbers you can reference.
Today, we’re taking a look at the average whiplash injury compensation so you can make sure you’re getting a fair offer. We’ll also share how a car accident attorney can help you navigate this next step so you never have to settle for less than you deserve.
What Is Whiplash?
Before we dive into the details of accident compensation, let’s take a step back. What is whiplash in the first place and how does it occur?
Put simply, whiplash is a fast and forceful back-and-forth motion of the neck. It gets its name because the movement is like a whip making a cracking motion.
While car accidents are one of the most common causes of whiplash, they aren’t the only ones. This type of injury can also be caused by the following:
- Sports accident
- Physical abuse
- Another type of accident or trauma (e.g. slip and fall)
For most people, a few weeks of dedicated therapy and treatment are all that’s required to heal this injury. Some people may take longer to recover. Then, some people experience lasting neck and back pain due to a whiplash injury that occurred years ago.
Symptoms of Whiplash
In the aftermath of a car accident, it can be difficult to fully assess your symptoms. You may be confused, fatigued, and full of adrenalin, all of which can make it hard to grasp how seriously you’ve been injured.
This is especially the case with a soft tissue injury like whiplash. These injuries don’t always show up right away and symptoms can take days to develop. When they do appear, it’s important to call your physician as soon as possible, as prompt treatment could help prevent the injury from worsening.
Some of the most common symptoms and side effects of whiplash include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Headaches (especially ones that originate at the base of the skull)
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Tenderness in the upper back, arms, or shoulders
While these symptoms aren’t as common, some people also experience the following after suffering an instance of whiplash:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Ringing in the ears (a condition called tinnitus)
- Depression and anxiety
- Memory issues
Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, the bottom line is that any type of whiplash can impact your quality of life. It can also make everyday activities, such as walking, running, or exercising, more difficult to pursue.
If you have any neck pain or other whiplash symptoms after a car accident or another type of injury, it’s important to see a doctor right away. This way, you can get an accurate and thorough diagnosis. Your physician can also determine if any other issues are going on, such as a sprain or broken bones, that could make your symptoms feel worse.
Average Whiplash Injury Compensation
Accident victims have the right to receive compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company. This settlement money could help you pay for the medical treatments, therapies, and other resources that your injury requires.
While whiplash claims can vary, most of them fall between $2,500 and $10,000. The lower end usually applies to instances of mild whiplash, while claims of $10,000 and more are designated for more severe cases.
It’s important to note that these figures are for whiplash alone. If the injury occurs alongside other accident-related problems, including serious back or neck injuries, then the figures can be much higher. In the case of compounded injuries, settlements can fall anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million or higher.
Your accident attorney will work with you to create a clear and complete case for the insurance company to review. They will include evidence that demonstrates the extent of your injury and make sure your accident compensation is aligned with your needs.
How Is Whiplash Injury Compensation Determined in Colorado?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Colorado, your lawyer will walk you through the process required to file a claim against the at-fault party. Your whiplash settlement will be one part of this claim.
The compensation you receive in a claim is meant to reflect the total of the damages you’ve suffered. In all, the factors that affect your whiplash injury compensation can include:
- The severity of any strains or damage to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- The degree to which your range of motion is restricted
- Related pain in your lower body, back, or neck
- Any limitations on your quality of life
- Any limitations on your ability to work
- The amount of time it took you to heal from your symptoms
- Permanent or long-term damages you’ve suffered
- Other related damages (e.g. property, economic, non-economic)
Ways to Strengthen Your Case
Your lawyer can help you maximize your payout by creating a strong case around your accident. Here are a few ways they can do so.
Submit Detailed Evidence
To make a strong case, your lawyer will need as many details about the accident as possible. This is why it’s so important to take photos, videos, and notes before leaving the scene of an accident. Even if you don’t notice any apparent injuries immediately following the collision, it’s still smart to record as much as you can.
Keep Doctor’s Notes
Even after your initial accident visit, remember to follow up with your physician. Keep notes of all the times you visit the doctor for whiplash-related visits, as well as any costs you accrue for treatments such as X-rays, MRIs, and scans. These medical records can help prove the extent and duration of your injury.
When an accident occurs, the at-fault party should be held responsible for helping the victims recover. This is why you’ll file a claim with their insurance company instead of your own. To build your case, you need to be able to show, without doubt, that their actions or negligence led to the instance.
In Colorado, courts follow what’s known as a modified comparative negligence system. This means that you can collect damages from the other driver as long as the court doesn’t decide that you’re more than 49% responsible for what occurred. If you’re deemed 50% responsible or higher, you essentially give up your right to recoup any compensation for your damages.
Your lawyer will gather evidence, speak to eyewitnesses, and work with experts such as accident reconstruction specialists, to understand exactly what led to the collision and which parties were at fault.
Total Your Damages
Before you get too far into a whiplash claim, it can help to have a list of factors that demonstrate your total financial losses. This way, you know how much money you need and you can distinguish a strong offer from a weak one.
- Your medical bills
- Loss of income notices
- Property damages
In addition to these economic damages, your lawyer will also help you calculate your pain and suffering. Then, you’ll add all of those associated costs together, typically multiplying the total by 1.5. The result you reach should be close to the actual compensation amount you receive.
Why Are Some Settlements Lower?
When preparing your car accident claim, you might wonder if there are any red flags you need to avoid to keep your payout as high as possible. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why some claims are smaller than others.
The Severity of the Injury
Most of the time, high accident claims are related to injuries that are severe. If your whiplash was major and it’s still affecting your life, you may be eligible to receive a higher payout than someone with a more minor injury.
Complicated Claims Process
Next, there’s another reason why so many car accident victims choose to settle out of court, even if it means taking a lower compensation amount. The process of filing a major claim can be exhausting and overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure where to start.
Hiring a car accident attorney helps you avoid this issue. If filing a claim sounds like too much work in your sensitive state, a lawyer can take the task (and stress) off your hands. They know who to contact, which forms to complete, and which timelines to follow.
They will work to make sure every detail of your case is covered so that you can focus on healing.
Find Help For Your Whiplash Claim
A car accident can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. If you suffered whiplash as a result of a collision in Colorado, you deserve a settlement to help you move forward in comfort and confidence.
That’s where we come in. Our experienced legal team has worked with clients just like you, and we know how to handle every part of the claims process. We’ll work to determine the whiplash injury compensation you need, gathering details and proving fault as required.
To learn more about our process and discuss your case, schedule a free consultation today!