No one expects to be involved in a car or truck accident, but the unexpected happens every day. Each year, more than 6 million people in the United States are confronted with the grim reality of the aftermath of a crash. You will never truly know how life changing a car accident can be until you experience it firsthand.
Back and neck injuries are frequently seen after a collision. Accident victims who experience these types of injuries often face a long and expensive road to recovery. When the medical bills and other financial losses start mounting, injured victims often panic. Luckily, you don’t have to face these expenses alone.
If you sustained a crash related injury due to another driver’s negligence, you might be left wondering what the average settlement is for neck and back injury claims. The amount you receive from the insurance company is dependent on many different factors, some of which are out of your control. Working with a top-rated personal injury lawyer, who has experience handling the most complex car accident cases, such as one of the lawyers at Florin|Roebig, can help you get full and fair compensation for your damages.
What Is Included In A Car Accident Settlement?
Before delving into average car accident settlement figures, you must first understand the different types of compensation that are awarded in personal injury lawsuits. Recoverable damages fall under two general categories, economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are designed to compensate a victim for monetary losses he or she has incurred or will incur due to the accident related injury. These types of damages are actual and measurable. You or your lawyer can easily calculate economic damages using payment receipts, credit card statements, medical bills, damage estimates, wage statements, and medical records indicating projected future costs. Some examples of economic damages include:
- Property damage, including the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Reimbursement for past medical bills and expenses
- Anticipated future medical costs related to the car crash
- Past lost wages as a result of the physical injury sustained in the accident
- Loss of future earning capacity due to permanent limitations caused by the injury
Non-economic damages tend to be highly subjective in nature and are therefore, much more difficult to assess. These types of damages are meant to compensate a car accident victim for non-monetary losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering, which refers to the physical and emotional pain suffered by a car accident victim
- Mental anguish or emotional distress, such as embarrassment or humiliation as a response to the accident itself or any resulting injuries
- Loss of companionship or consortium, defined as the deprivation of the benefits of family relationships
- Loss of enjoyment of life or reduced quality of life due to the car accident injury
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What Is The Average Car Accident Settlement For A Back Or Neck Injury?
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about hiring a personal injury attorney is that they will end up with less money in their pocket. In some cases, this is true. However, all law firms are not created equal.
Most of the personal injury law firms that get thousands of cases from TV and radio advertising are what we refer to as “settlement mills,” or law firms that focus on high volume, quick turnaround, and cheap settlements. These firms employ young, inexperienced attorneys that handle an upwards of 500 cases at any given time and have no intention of going to trial even if there is high probability that the case will prevail. Insurance adjusters like working with mills because they know they can settle even the most catastrophic car accident injuries at a discount.
The big insurance companies know which law firms are willing to take their cases to trial and are successful whenever they do. The attorneys at FlorinIRoebig will not settle for less than what your car accident claim is worth. For this reason, we are able to negotiate much higher settlements than most law firms. With the help of one of our experienced and dedicated attorneys, a minor back or neck injury may yield anywhere from $20,000 up to $100,000.
Listed below are some notable settlement amounts for more serious injuries that we were able to successfully negotiate with the insurance companies:
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Common Injuries To The Back Or Neck From Car Accidents
Whether you were involved in a minor fender bender or a serious car crash, it is important to get medical treatment to determine the extent of your injuries. There are many different kinds of injuries that can cause back pain or neck pain. Some of the most common neck and back injuries that arise from car accidents include:
Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries are those that involve the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. These types of injuries are frequently overlooked by car accident victims because they rarely show up on an X-ray. Although soft tissue injuries are thought of as a minor, they can cause chronic pain and suffering especially if medical treatment is delayed. Whiplash, neck sprain, and back sprain are commonly reported after a crash.
Injuries to the spine occur in the lower back and can range from sciatica to spinal cord injury, such as a fracture. Mild injuries can be treated with physical therapy and medication, while traumatic spinal cord injuries usually require surgery and extensive medical care. Diagnostic tests for spine injuries may include a CT scan, X-ray, or MRI.
Herniated Disc Injury
The sudden force from a collision can cause one the rubbery discs between the vertebrae to slip out of alignment. These injuries can occur anywhere along the spinal cord, but the most common ones resulting from an auto accident include lumbar disc herniations and cervical disc herniations. When conservative treatment fails, a lumbar or cervical fusion and discectomy surgery may be warranted.
When a strong force is exerted on the back or neck, broken bones and fractures can happen. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of many vertebral compression fractures, especially in elderly people because their bones are more brittle. The majority of compression fractures heal in a few months with medication, reduction in activity, and the placement of a back brace. Sometimes a fusion surgery is recommended when conservative treatments don’t help.
Factors That Affect Your Car Accident Neck Or Back Injury Settlement
After an auto accident that wasn’t your fault, it is natural to think about how much money your case is worth. Many factors will be taken into account when determining the value of your car accident settlement, but it should be noted that it is impossible to know exactly how much compensation you will receive because no two cases are the same.
A skilled car accident lawyer can help you examine the most significant factors and give you an estimate of what you can expect to walk away with. Below, we will highlight the most important factors that have the potential to affect your settlement:
The Nature And Severity Of The Injury
Impact related injuries can range from very minor to life-threatening. One of the most crucial factors that will have a direct impact on the settlement value is the nature and severity of your injury.
The payout is usually higher for more serious or permanent injuries that require extensive medical treatment and a longer recovery time. This increases the amount of economic damages you will be able to recover in the form of medical expenses and lost wages.
Generally speaking, serious neck and back injuries result in debilitating physical pain that can be chronic or in the worst cases, lifelong. While calculating economic damages can be relatively simple, calculating non-economic damages related to pain and suffering is much more complex. Pinpointing the value of these types of damages is often a difficult feat because pain and suffering affects people differently. Each individual who sustains a whiplash injury will have a unique experience. Hiring an auto accident attorney with experience handling severe injuries can help you determine a fair amount of compensation for your pain and suffering.
Proof Of The Other Driver’s Liability
The foundation for a successful personal injury claim is being able to prove negligence and ultimately establish liability. In certain types of car accidents, identifying the at-fault driver can be fairly simple and straightforward. “No doubt liability” cases usually arise in the following instances:
- Rear End Collisions — If your car is struck from behind, the other motorist will almost always be deemed responsible for the accident and any resulting injuries. Traffic laws require drivers to maintain a safe distance when following a car. When a driver fails to do so and a collision happens, they will most likely be considered the at-fault party.
- and an accident occurs, they will most likely be considered the liable party.
- Left Turn Collisions — When you are driving straight down the road and a car making a left-hand turn collides with your vehicle, liability is almost always assigned to the other driver. State laws require drivers attempting to make a left-hand turn to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Drunk Driving Car Accidents — Nearly all collisions that are caused by a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be considered no doubt liability accidents. In these cases, it is extremely unlikely that the insurance company will try to argue who was at fault for the collision.
Unfortunately, in many car accidents, establishing liability is not always so cut and dry. Favorable settlements usually have one thing in common- the ability to prove fault. To get the highest settlement possible, four basic elements need to be shown:
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care to operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner, as required by law.
- The negligent party breached their duty of care by failing to exercise reasonable care, or in other words, disobeying traffic laws.
- The other driver’s breach of care was the actual and proximate cause of your injury. The back or neck injury you sustained would not have occurred had the driver upheld their duty of care.
- Due to the other party’s breach of care, you suffered financial losses in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
If you sustained a back or neck injury in a car accident, the negligent party’s insurance company will not pay you until you have satisfied the burden of proof. Your attorney can help you gather the following types of evidence to prove the other party’s negligence:
- Photos and videos of the accident scene, surrounding area, and vehicles involved
- The police report citing the other driver for traffic violations
- Witness statements corroborating your allegations
- Traffic and video surveillance footage of the car crash
- Statements from accident reconstruction experts
Your Own Liability In The Car Accident
More often than not, the other driver’s insurance company will try to undermine your personal injury claim by trying to argue that you were partially at fault for the accident. Most states utilize a comparative negligence system in car accident lawsuits. Simply put, this means that more than one party can share liability.
Comparative negligence systems fall into three categories, depending on what state the accident occurred in. Florida and thirteen other states follow the pure comparative fault rule. Under this legal doctrine, the amount of damages you are able to recover is reduced by the percentage of fault you are assigned. For example, if your damages total $250,000, but you were found to be 20% at fault for the accident, your award will be reduced to $200,000.
Texas, on the other hand, uses a modified form of comparative negligence with a 51% bar. This law means you cannot receive compensation if you were 51% or more to blame for the car accident. Although this may seem unfavorable to plaintiffs, but at least the rule eliminates the award reduction.
Insurance Policy Limits
The amount an insurance company is willing to payout for your back or neck injury is largely dependent on the insured’s policy limits. We will provide an example to illustrate exactly how policy limits can negatively impact your ability to recover compensation.
Let’s say you were involved in a crash and you suffered a herniated disc injury. Liability is clear and you have sufficient evidence to prove the severity of the injury. Total damages are estimated at $120,000. The at-fault driver’s insurance policy limit is $50,000. The sad truth is that you will likely only be able to recover up to the maximum policy limit unless you sue the defendant personally or bring a claim against another driver, if there was more than one negligent driver.
Florida insurance laws require registered vehicle owners to carry a minimum of $10,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person, $10,000 of property damage liability coverage, and $10,000 of personal injury protection coverage.
Your Attorney’s Ability To Negotiate
Even if you have a solid personal injury claim that meets all the criteria previously discussed, the skill of your attorney can also considerably impact how much compensation you will receive for your back or neck injury. An attorney’s ability to negotiate is, in many ways, the most important skill an attorney possesses. Lawyers who are effective negotiators know the importance of timing, preparation, presentation, and strategy.
The insurance company may have already extended a settlement offer, but it is probably well below the true value of your case. When the time is right, your attorney will initiate the negotiation process by sending a demand letter. Then, the settlement negotiation process will usually consist of a back and forth exchange until both parties can agree on a value.
Remember, the insurance company has a team of seasoned attorneys working for them that are well-versed in the art of negotiation. Before deciding on an attorney, make sure they have the skills and qualifications needed to negotiate a satisfactory personal injury settlement.
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Without knowing the specific details of your personal injury case, it is nearly impossible to estimate the average car accident settlement for a back or neck injury. It is fair to say there is no real “average car accident settlement,” but having the right attorney on your side can ensure that you get more from your settlement than most people do.
The insurance adjuster assigned to your claim may try to devalue, diminish, or deny your case. If you are a crash injury victim and you feel like you are being treated unfairly by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, it is time to pick up the phone and call FlorinIRoebig at 1-(800) 226-6581 for a free case evaluation. Our goal is to get the maximum award possible for your injuries, while maintaining an excellent attorney-client relationship.