Auto Accident

What is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident Back Injury

Man siting in car with a back injury after accident.

Introduction

The law mandates that insurance companies must cover all injuries resulting from any car accident, regardless of their severity, as part of their liability coverage. However, disputes can arise when an injury is not immediately visible or deemed severe by the insurance company, leading to potential denial of claims. Therefore, it is crucial to seek immediate medical help and treatment from a doctor after an accident, even if there are no apparent injuries. Pain and injuries may surface days, weeks, or even months later, and delaying treatment could jeopardize your claim's chances of being accepted. Today, we will delve deeper into the common occurrences of neck and back injuries caused by car accidents. Let's explore what you need to know about these types of injuries.

 Neck and Back Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents

Paramedic placing cervical device on a car crash victim's neck
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 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, compiles statistics on all injuries and death caused by car accidents. It's essential to know the statistics for neck and back injuries to protect your claim. According to them, approximately 869,000 traffic crash-related cervical spine injuries occur in a year in the US. That includes 841,000 sprain or strain injuries, 2,800 spinal disk injuries, 23,500 fractures, 2800 spinal cord injuries, and 1500 dislocations.

 This is in the context that neck and back injuries sustained from car accidents have decreased in the past few years. Although the numbers are still high, things are changing. But the reality is still that millions of people get into car accidents, and about 20% of the injuries they sustain are to the neck and back.

 Over the years, car accident-related neck and back injuries have decreased. In 2019, an estimated 2.5 million people were injured in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Approximately 20 percent (500,000) suffered a neck and back injury.

Most Common Back Injuries from Car Accidents

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In the aftermath of car accidents, the human back often bears the brunt of the impact, leading to a variety of common injuries. Whiplash is a prevalent back injury, resulting from the sudden jerking motion of the head, causing strain on the neck and upper back muscles and ligaments. Herniated discs, another frequently observed injury, occur when the soft center of spinal discs protrudes, compressing nearby nerves and causing pain and discomfort in the back or extremities. Compression fractures are particularly concerning, as the vertebrae can fracture and collapse under intense pressure, potentially leading to spinal cord damage. Lumbar sprains and strains are also commonplace, affecting the lower back muscles and ligaments and leading to pain and reduced mobility. Moreover, car accidents can exacerbate pre-existing back conditions like degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis, adding further complications to the recovery process. Understanding these common back injuries is crucial, as timely medical attention and appropriate treatment can significantly impact the overall healing and long-term well-being of accident victims.

List of Most Common Back Injuries from Car Accidents:

  1. Whiplash: A strain on the neck and upper back muscles and ligaments due to the sudden jerking motion of the head.
  2. Herniated Discs: Protrusion of the soft center of spinal discs, leading to nerve compression and pain in the back or extremities.
  3. Compression Fractures: Fracturing and collapsing of vertebrae due to intense pressure, potentially causing spinal cord damage.
  4. Lumbar Sprains and Strains: Injuries to the lower back muscles and ligaments, resulting in pain and reduced mobility.
  5. Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: Car accidents can worsen pre-existing back conditions like degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.
  6. Spinal Cord Injuries: Severe accidents may lead to direct trauma to the spinal cord, causing partial or complete paralysis.

Remember that any suspicion of a back injury after a car accident warrants immediate medical evaluation and appropriate treatment. Early intervention can significantly improve the chances of a full recovery and prevent long-term complications.

 What is the Average Settlement for Neck and Back Injuries in Car Accidents?

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Image by Charles Thompson from Pixabay

 The NHTSA has helpful data regarding actual settlements for cervical spine injuries. In 2014, the average amount paid for cervical spine injuries was $10,484. The lowest amount paid for cervical spine injuries was $0, the highest was $350,000, and the most common amount was between $10,000 to $100,000.

Today, in average car accidents involving relatively minor neck or back injuries, the injured individual may anticipate a settlement ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, which is typically paid by the at-fault driver's insurance company. These minor injuries often involve soft tissue damage, affecting ligaments, muscles, or tendons. While such settlements may help cover medical expenses and compensate for pain and suffering, they might not significantly impact a person's life in the long run.

However, it is crucial to recognize that severe back injuries can lead to a drastically different scenario. In cases where the spinal cord is damaged, causing paralysis or other life-altering conditions, the potential payout can be substantially higher. These injuries can profoundly impact a person's quality of life, resulting in significant medical expenses, long-term care needs, and loss of earning capacity. As a consequence, settlements for severe back injuries can reach far beyond the amounts seen in minor cases.

 What to Do In the Event of an Accident

In the event of a car accident, seeking immediate medical attention is of utmost importance to protect your health and well-being. Even if you don't feel any immediate pain or discomfort, some injuries may not manifest until days or weeks after the incident. By promptly visiting the emergency room, medical professionals can conduct a thorough examination and perform diagnostic tests to detect any hidden injuries that might otherwise go unnoticed. This proactive approach not only ensures your health is safeguarded but also strengthens your case if you need to pursue legal action or file an insurance claim.

Proving the extent and cause of your injuries can be vital in legal proceedings or insurance negotiations. Medical records and reports from the emergency room serve as crucial evidence to support your claim. They can demonstrate the link between the accident and your injuries, establishing causation.

In cases involving back or neck injuries, various imaging scans are commonly used to detect and diagnose potential issues. X-rays are frequently employed to visualize bones, checking for fractures or other skeletal abnormalities. CT scans (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans are valuable tools to assess soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, and discs in the back and neck regions. CT scans provide detailed cross-sectional images, while MRI scans offer high-resolution images of soft tissue structures. These scans can reveal herniated discs, spinal cord compression, and other back or neck injuries that may not be visible through traditional X-rays.

 What to Do After The Hospital Visit

MEdical professional checking a female's back.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
  1. Complete the Questionnaire: After your hospital visit, you may be required to fill out a questionnaire to provide detailed information about the accident, your injuries, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. This information will be crucial for any legal proceedings or insurance claims.
  2. Gather Documentation for Lost Wages: If your injuries have caused you to miss work and resulted in lost wages, it's essential to gather all necessary documentation to support your claim. This may include pay stubs, letters from your employer, or medical notes that indicate your inability to work during your recovery.
  3. Attend Follow-up Doctor Visits: To monitor your progress and ensure proper healing, you may need to schedule follow-up visits with various healthcare providers. Regular check-ups will help document the extent of your injuries and any ongoing medical needs.
  4. Covering Expenses with Liability Insurance: In many cases, the expenses related to your accident, including medical bills and property damage, can be covered by the at-fault party's liability insurance. This means that you may not have to bear the financial burden personally.
  5. Filing a Claim with the At-fault Driver's Insurance Company: To seek compensation for your injuries and damages, you'll need to initiate a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. This process usually involves submitting the necessary documentation and evidence to support your claim.
  6. Dealing with Insurance Adjusters: When you file a claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. Their goal is to settle the claim as quickly as possible, often offering you a settlement amount. However, it's essential to be cautious during this process, as their initial offer may not fully cover all your damages.
  7. Negotiating a Fair Settlement: In some cases, insurance companies may try to minimize their payouts by offering a low settlement amount. If you believe that the offered settlement does not adequately compensate you for your injuries and losses, consider negotiating for a fairer resolution.
  8. Seeking Legal Representation: If you encounter challenges during the negotiation process or feel overwhelmed dealing with insurance companies, it might be wise to consult a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can advocate on your behalf, review the details of your case, and help maximize your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
  9. Understanding the Statute of Limitations: Keep in mind that there is a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which you must file a personal injury claim. The time frame may vary depending on your location and the type of claim you're filing, so it's crucial to be aware of and adhere to this deadline.
  10. Documenting Everything: Throughout the entire post-hospital process, it's essential to keep meticulous records of all your medical expenses, doctor visits, communication with insurance adjusters, and any other relevant documents. These records will serve as evidence to support your claim and help you stay organized during the often complex legal procedures.
  11. Considering Long-Term Effects: Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might be facing long-term or even permanent effects. It's vital to consider these potential consequences when calculating the compensation you deserve. Consulting with medical experts can help you understand the future implications of your injuries.
  12. Exploring Other Avenues for Compensation: In addition to the at-fault driver's insurance, there may be other potential sources of compensation, such as your own insurance policies or third-party liability coverage. Your personal injury attorney can help you explore all available options for adequate compensation.

 What to Do If Your Claim is Denied

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If your claim for a back injury after a car accident is denied by the insurance company, it can be disheartening, but there are steps you can take to challenge the denial and pursue the compensation you deserve. First and foremost, review the denial letter carefully to understand the specific reasons for the rejection. Common denial claims from insurance companies may include arguing that the injury was pre-existing, not caused by the accident, or not severe enough to warrant compensation.

To counter these denial claims, gather and organize all relevant evidence and documentation. This may include medical records, doctor's reports, diagnostic imaging results, and any documentation related to the accident itself. Photographic evidence of vehicle damage and the accident scene can also be valuable.

If you believe the denial is unjustified, consider contacting the insurance company and providing additional evidence to support your claim. Be prepared to explain how the accident caused or worsened your back injury and how it has affected your daily life and ability to work.

If dealing with the insurance company directly proves challenging, enlisting the help of a personal injury attorney can be beneficial. An experienced attorney can review your case, assess the validity of the denial, and negotiate on your behalf to pursue a fair settlement.

In some cases, alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, may be used to resolve the claim dispute. If these efforts fail, a lawsuit may be necessary to seek compensation through the court system.

 Always Call Your Lawyer

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Handling these cases can be complex, particularly when dealing with insurance companies equipped with strong legal teams aiming to minimize their payouts. Let's explore the various ways an attorney can specifically help you with your back injury case:

  1. Assessing the Value of Your Claim: Back injury cases often involve significant medical expenses, lost wages, and potential long-term care needs. An experienced attorney can assess the full extent of your damages and calculate the appropriate compensation you deserve. They'll consider not only your current expenses but also any future costs related to ongoing medical treatments or rehabilitation.
  2. Gathering Evidence: Building a strong case requires substantial evidence to support your claim. Attorneys have the expertise to investigate the accident scene, gather medical records, obtain expert testimonies, and secure any other evidence necessary to demonstrate the liability of the at-fault party and the extent of your back injury.
  3. Dealing with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies are notorious for employing tactics to minimize their financial liabilities. Having a lawyer by your side can protect your rights and ensure that you don't accept an inadequate settlement offer. An attorney will handle all communication with the insurance companies and fight for your best interests throughout the negotiation process.
  4. Understanding Laws and Legal Procedures: Personal injury laws can be complex and vary from state to state. A back injury attorney has in-depth knowledge of the applicable laws and legal procedures, ensuring that your case adheres to all necessary regulations and deadlines.
  5. Negotiating a Fair Settlement: Your lawyer will be a skilled negotiator, capable of advocating on your behalf to reach a fair settlement. They'll leverage their knowledge and experience to counter the strategies employed by insurance adjusters, ensuring that you don't settle for less than what you deserve.
  6. Preparing for Litigation: If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your attorney will be prepared to take your case to court. Litigating a back injury case can be challenging, given the defense's legal prowess. Having a lawyer with experience in handling back injury lawsuits can significantly improve your chances of success in the courtroom.
  7. Ensuring You Get Comprehensive Medical Evaluation: Back injuries can be intricate and may not show immediate symptoms. An attorney can connect you with reputable medical professionals who specialize in back injuries. This ensures that you receive a thorough evaluation, and all your injuries are properly documented.
  8. Handling Legal Documentation: Personal injury cases involve a substantial amount of paperwork and legal documentation. Your lawyer will take care of all the necessary paperwork, filings, and documentation, so you can focus on your recovery and well-being.
  9. Providing Peace of Mind: Dealing with a back injury can be physically and emotionally challenging. Hiring an attorney to handle your case will alleviate the burden of the legal process, giving you peace of mind to focus on healing and rehabilitation.
  10. Contingency Fee Arrangement: Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if they secure a settlement or win your case in court. This arrangement allows you to seek professional legal help without worrying about upfront costs or fees.

 The Bottom Line

 If you have been injured in a car accident, you should immediately seek medical attention, and you should also file a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible. This can help you get fair compensation for your injury.

 Negotiating with insurance companies is not easy, but it is necessary. The claim process for a car accident injury can be frustrating and intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. If your injury claim is denied, you should contact a lawyer to help guide you through the process.

 If you are looking for an accident lawyer in Los Angeles, we can help you. Here at Mendez and Sanchez Law, you will only find the best. Our attorneys and team members are here to help you through the difficult legal landscape as we pursue the compensation you deserve. Please contact us for your injury, auto accident, workers' compensation, and other legal needs today!

FAQ's

Yes, insurance companies are mandated to cover all injuries resulting from car accidents, regardless of their severity, as part of their liability coverage.

Delaying medical treatment can jeopardize your claim's chances of being accepted, as pain and injuries may surface days, weeks, or months later. Seeking immediate medical attention ensures early detection and proper documentation of injuries.

Common back injuries in car accidents include whiplash (strain on neck and upper back muscles), herniated discs (protrusion causing nerve compression), compression fractures (vertebrae damage), lumbar sprains and strains (lower back injuries), and exacerbation of pre-existing back conditions.

For relatively minor neck or back injuries, the average settlement ranges from $2,500 to $10,000. However, severe back injuries resulting in spinal cord damage can lead to substantially higher payouts due to the significant impact on the individual's quality of life and long-term expenses.

If your claim is denied, review the denial letter to understand the specific reasons. Gather relevant evidence, including medical records and documentation related to the accident. Consider contacting the insurance company with additional evidence or seek assistance from a personal injury attorney to challenge the denial and pursue fair compensation.

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