After suffering neck or back injuries in a car accident, you may find yourself facing immense physical pain and considerable ongoing challenges in many areas of your life. The neck and back control many of your regular movements, and injury to the neck or back can cause considerable discomfort and difficulty engaging in work or play activities. Neck and back injuries can interfere with mobility or even make it difficult to simply sit behind a desk and take care of work tasks.
When you suffer a back or neck injury in a car accident, how much compensation can you expect for your injuries? What does the average car accident settlement for neck and back injuries look like? Car accident claims can have vastly different outcomes depending on several factors. By working with a car accident lawyer, you can get a better idea of what compensation to expect in your specific car accident claim.
Average Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Nobody can tell you how much a car accident might net you, and accurate averages are both hard to find and don’t apply to your situation. How much compensation you can actually recover for a neck or back injury may depend on your car accident.
Factors That Impact Your Car Accident Claim for Neck and Back Injuries
Determining how much compensation you deserve for neck and back injuries can prove essential after a serious accident. You need to know that you have recovered fair compensation for your injuries and that you know how much compensation to expect if you receive a settlement offer. A lawyer can help you break down the factors that may influence your car accident claim and give you a better idea of how much compensation you should expect for those injuries.
1. What type of neck and back injuries did you suffer, and what type of care did you require for those injuries?
Neck and back injuries can vary dramatically in severity, depending on how your car accident occurred, the force behind the accident, seat belt use at the time of the accident, and even the position of the passenger in the vehicle. Some passengers, for example, may suffer from whiplash.
While chronic whiplash can cause ongoing pain and may require substantial medical support, including physical therapy, it may not require the same high level of medical treatment that you might expect if you suffered from a herniated disc.
If you suffered spinal cord injuries that caused permanent paralysis or loss of mobility because of your car accident, you may have ongoing medical bills that will last for the rest of your life.
Work with your lawyer to break down all the medical bills you had to pay because of your car accident.
Make sure you include:
- The cost of any needed emergency medical treatment or transport, including your ambulance bill
- The cost of your initial stay in the hospital or any future hospital stay related to your car accident and your injuries
- Paying for durable medical equipment
- Copay and deductible amounts, including amounts you may have to pay up front in order to receive treatment
- The cost of any surgeries or treatments designed to help restore mobility, repair injuries, or relieve pain following an accident
- Physical and occupational therapy to help you regain strength and/or mobility after the accident
You may also want to talk to your lawyer about any modifications you had to make to your home in order to allow independence following your accident. In many cases, spinal cord injury victims will need to make extensive home modifications, including installing wheelchair ramps, renovating kitchens and bathrooms to allow them to reach cabinets and important items from a wheelchair, and widening doorways to make them wheelchair accessible.
The cost of all those renovations often adds up faster than intended, but many people cannot function well in their own homes without that extra assistance after a spinal cord injury.
2. How much work did you have to miss because of your car accident and your back and neck injuries?
Depending on what type of back or neck injury you suffer, you may end up missing a lot of work because of your injuries. Even whiplash can make it very difficult to sit still behind a computer all day, since it may increase your overall pain and stiffness. If you have a more active job or more extensive injuries, you may find that it causes further suffering or that your injuries prevent you from working even longer.
Sometimes, back and neck injuries can keep you out of work for months. In other cases, you may find that your back and neck injuries permanently prevent you from returning to your former profession.
Suppose, for example, that you suffered a spinal cord injury in your car accident. You might find it impossible to return to a warehouse job or one in the construction industry, which might require substantial mobility. In that case, in addition to claiming compensation for the wages you lost immediately after the accident, you might have the right to claim compensation for the earning potential you lost as a direct result of your car accident and the associated injuries.
Talk to your lawyer about all the time you had to miss at work because of your car accident and your neck and back injuries.
- Did you have to miss work immediately after your accident? How long did you spend out of work, either because of hospitalization or because of the specific limitations associated with your back and neck injuries?
- Did you have to go back to work on a limited basis after the accident, causing you to miss out on many of the hours or much of the income you would usually expect?
- How much time did you have to miss at work for follow-up appointments, including physical therapy, after the accident?
- Did you have to use vacation time to cover your missing wages? What about sick time out of a specific bank?
Work with your lawyer to get a clear picture of how much your car accident and your neck and back injuries disrupted your work life and your income. By putting together a clear breakdown of those losses, you can often put together a more effective injury claim.
3. What suffering did you face as a direct result of your neck and back injuries?
Your lawyer will work with you to seek compensation for your pain and suffering related to the car accident and your injuries in addition to compensation for the direct financial costs you may have had to deal with after the accident. In order to put together a comprehensive claim, your lawyer will want to talk to you about the non-financial suffering you may have had to deal with, both physically and emotionally, after the accident.
Your lawyer may ask questions like:
- What emotional impact did the accident have on you? Have you suffered from depression, anxiety, or PTSD because of your accident and injuries?
- Did your injuries cause a loss of independence?
- How have your back and neck injuries impacted your relationships with others? Severe injuries can make it more difficult to connect with others. You may also find yourself more dependent on your spouse or partner, or needing additional support from loved ones, which can change your relationships in unexpected ways.
- Did your back and neck injuries cause significant physical pain? Do you have ongoing pain or limitations related to your injuries?
- How do your injuries impact your ability to engage in the hobbies and activities you enjoyed before your accident?
- What impact have your injuries had on your plans? Did you need to reschedule or cancel activities you had previously put on the schedule?
As you answer those questions for your lawyer, your lawyer will get a clearer picture of how to shape your claim for pain and suffering after your car accident.
4. Who caused your car accident? Did any other factors contribute to the accident?
When you file a car accident claim, you will generally file a claim against the liable party’s auto insurance policy. Different people may have different insurance policies depending on their specific needs. For example, some people may carry only minimum liability insurance. Minimum liability insurance varies by state, but generally offers at least $10,000 in compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident.
Unfortunately, that minimum insurance may offer just a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the damages you actually had to face after your accident. Other policies, on the other hand, may offer much more extensive coverage. A lawyer can look over the details of the insurance policy that covers your claim and give you a better idea of what compensation you can realistically expect for your back and neck injuries.
In addition, a lawyer may help go over your car accident claim to determine whether other factors may have contributed to the accident or to the severity of your injuries. Suppose, for example, that you had an accident with a driver on the clock for his company. That driver might include a delivery driver for a restaurant, a construction worker, or a big truck driver. When a driver has an accident on the clock, the employer may share liability for the accident, and the employer’s liability insurance may come into play.
Likewise, if a mechanical failure contributed to the accident, other parties may bear liability for the incident, including the vehicle manufacturer, the manufacturer of the part that failed, or a mechanic that recently worked on that area of the vehicle, but who did not identify the problem or fix it correctly, or who may have caused additional damage to the vehicle that led to the accident.
A lawyer can help examine all those potential factors to determine whether you may deserve compensation from another party, which could ultimately increase the compensation you can recover for your back and neck injuries.
5. Do you have a lawyer helping with your claim?
In order to maximize the compensation you can recover after a car accident involving devastating neck and back injuries, you may need to work with a lawyer. Having a lawyer on your side may help increase the compensation you can gain, even when you take care of your legal fees.
Insurance companies often try to decrease the compensation they have to pay out after a collision in any way possible. That may mean utilizing any number of tactics designed to slow down the claim process, convince you to accept a low compensation offer, or decrease the covered party’s liability for the accident. Unfortunately, if the insurance company succeeds in its plans, that may mean that you end up with less compensation than you really deserve.
When you have a lawyer on your side, the insurance company may automatically take your claim more seriously. You may find it easier to deal with the insurance company when you have a lawyer fighting aggressively to maximize the compensation you can recover or when your lawyer offers clear insights regarding the compensation you should expect. Furthermore, by working with a lawyer, you may find it much easier to navigate interactions with the insurance company and avoid many of the challenges they may throw in your way.
Contact a Lawyer for Help With Your Car Accident Claim
Dealing with neck and back injuries after a car accident on your own can leave you with more questions about the compensation you may deserve than answers about your next steps. By working with a car accident lawyer, you can feel much more confident about the outcome of your claim. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to get a better idea of what compensation you may deserve.