Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that frequently occurs during car accidents, usually because the impact of the collision causes the head to snap forward and backward. Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, shoulder pain, numbness or tingling in the arms, dizziness, headache, memory or concentration issues, and tinnitus.
Before assuming you’re not injured after an accident, remember that whiplash symptoms don’t always appear immediately. Some people may begin experiencing pain and other symptoms a few hours or days later, so be on the lookout for any new difficulties.
While most people recover from whiplash within a few weeks, some develop chronic pain or symptoms that still affect them more than three months later. This condition is sometimes called Whiplash-Associated Disorder or WAD. Some studies have found that up to 40 percent of whiplash patients continue to experience pain a year after their initial injury.
Even if you do recover fully, you may be in pain and unable to work for several weeks, losing income or PTO days. At the same time, your whiplash and other injuries could leave you with a stack of medical bills. For example, the X-rays and other imaging to diagnose your neck pain could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how much your health insurance covers.
How Can a Bridgeport Whiplash Injury Attorney Help?
Dealing with injuries like whiplash after a car accident can be costly, and the at-fault driver’s car insurance company may not be as helpful as you’d hoped. Insurance adjusters are eager to deny claims so they can save the company money, and they often target whiplash claims. Here are several reasons why your claim may be denied:
Lack of medical evidence. Whiplash is typically diagnosed by excluding other diagnoses, such as a cervical fracture. Soft tissue damage doesn’t show up on X-rays and is only sometimes visible on more detailed imaging such as a CT scan. If all these tests are clear, your doctor will likely diagnose you with whiplash, but the insurance adjuster may find this diagnosis unconvincing. We’ll review your medical records and consult experts as needed to prove your diagnosis was correct and your treatment necessary.
Pre-existing condition concerns. Insurance adjusters love to comb your medical records looking for signs of a pre-existing condition, at which point they may blame your symptoms on that condition. The reality is that a person can have a pre-existing condition and still suffer injuries like whiplash in an accident. In fact, whiplash can make a pre-existing condition worse! You shouldn’t be punished for having a previous injury or illness, and we’ll work to show that you sustained new injuries in the accident.
Later onset of symptoms. As we discussed in the previous section, it’s common for whiplash symptoms to appear hours or days after the accident. Sometimes, the injured person is unaware of why they are experiencing neck pain—they may not immediately connect it with the accident. By the time they see a doctor, a week or more may have passed. The insurance adjuster might see that as a sign that your neck pain was unrelated to the collision. Again, we’ll consult medical experts and gather evidence to show that the car crash caused your injury.
Disagreements about fault. Sometimes, the insurance company will accept that the accident caused your whiplash but will reject your claim on the basis of fault. The other driver may blame you for the accident, but in some cases, the insurance adjuster will blame you even if their client doesn’t. We’ll talk more about how your lawyer will work to prove fault later in this article.
If your whiplash injury claim has been rejected for one of the above reasons or any other, an experienced whiplash injury attorney can help you appeal the claim. If you haven’t yet filed a claim, we can assist you with collecting documentation to improve your chances of success.
What Should You Do After a Whiplash Injury?
If you have neck pain – no matter how mild – or other symptoms after your car accident, we recommend that you see a healthcare provider right away. First, this allows you to be screened for potentially severe injuries like spinal cord damage or a neck fracture. Additionally, you will establish a record of your injuries that your doctor can refer to later if you develop chronic neck pain. Finally, these records will help to show the insurance company that your injuries were caused by the accident.
If you have no symptoms immediately after the accident but develop pain or other symptoms within the next few weeks, see your healthcare provider as soon as you notice these issues. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to treat your pain—and the harder it could be to convince the insurance adjuster that the car crash led to your neck pain.
What if the Insurance Company Tries to Blame You for the Collision?
This is a widespread problem in car accident cases. Because the at-fault driver’s policy usually covers bodily injury damages, insurance companies often argue about who was at fault. This can even happen if the police report indicates the other driver caused the accident or if the other driver admits to making a mistake.
It’s helpful to understand that under Connecticut law, each party in an accident is apportioned a percentage of fault. One party could be 100 percent responsible for the accident, but in many cases, both drivers have some culpability. Fortunately, having some fault does not necessarily bar you from collecting damages unless you are more than 51 percent to blame. If your percentage is below 51 percent, you can still recover your damages minus your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were 10 percent responsible, you would lose 10 percent of your final settlement, but you could still recover 90 percent of your losses.
However, there are many situations where we find the insurance company’s claims about your percentage of fault aren’t accurate. They may think you have a higher share of responsibility than you do, or you might not have any fault at all. Never assume you were partly at fault solely because the insurance company says so. Instead, speak with a whiplash injury lawyer who can help you learn more about your case.
What Damages Can You Seek in a Whiplash Injury Case?
We’ll discuss your whiplash and other injuries to determine an accurate value for your claim. Here are some of the damages you may be able to seek:
Medical bills. Your emergency room visit could cost hundreds of dollars or more, depending on your health insurance. If your symptoms don’t resolve on their own, you may need to follow up with your doctor, a specialist, or a chiropractor. Some people with persistent pain may benefit from physical therapy, but health insurance usually limits how many sessions you can have each year. We’ll work to ensure all your current medical bills are paid and your future costs are covered as well.
Lost income. When you’re unable to work because of neck pain, you could run out of paid time off quickly and then be forced to take unpaid days off. We’ll go over your pay stubs and determine how much income you’ve lost (including paid days off you could have used elsewhere) and pursue compensation.
Reduced or lost earning potential. If your neck pain or another injury results in a permanent inability to work or forces you to work reduced hours or a less demanding job, we can recover damages for your lost earning potential.
Permanent disability or disfigurement. You can pursue compensation for any substantial permanent injury that may affect your enjoyment of life.
Pain and suffering. Whiplash and other neck injuries are often relentlessly painful, interrupting both your work and home life with discomfort. You deserve to be compensated for both your physical pain and any emotional or mental distress you suffer from the accident.
Property damage. If your vehicle was also damaged in the car crash, we’ll ensure you receive the complete cost of repairing or replacing it. Additionally, you can pursue damages for depreciation if the collision has reduced your vehicle’s worth.
How Can You Find Out More From a Bridgeport Whiplash Injury Law Firm?
Please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free consultation about your whiplash injury. Our team will study your case, answer your questions, and explain the options for pursuing compensation. There is no obligation, and if we take your case, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle it.
Attorney Bert McDowell, Jr. is an experienced trial attorney who has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for injured people and their families. You may have seen him in 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine or the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. He’s also been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for four consecutive years. Mr. McDowell is dedicated to faith, family, and community service and has served on numerous nonprofit boards. His community service and stellar legal reputation earned him the 100 Men of Color Award and the Man of Excellence Award from the organization Black People Rocks.