The most common cause of whiplash is a rear-end car crash, and rear-end collisions are nearly always the fault of a negligent driver hitting another vehicle from behind. The actual collision could cause minimal vehicle damage and still result in an unfortunate case of whiplash that could last for months. Personal injury law allows you to recover compensation for your losses through civil court, and you may benefit from speaking with a car accident lawyer about the details of your case.
How Do You Know if You Have Whiplash?
Whiplash is a painful condition caused by force generated by a sudden impact. For example, when a car rear-ends another vehicle, the force will cause the body to move forward and the head to move backward, immediately followed by the opposite motions for each. Those opposing motions can significantly damage the muscles, tendons, discs, and nerves in the neck, often leaving micro-tears in the soft tissues that can take a long time to heal. Sometimes accident victims do not realize they have an injury until a few hours after the incident, but some common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, or back
- Pain and numbness in the arm or hand
- Lower back pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision
- Dizziness and trouble concentrating
- Sleeplessness and fatigue
The symptoms are often persistent and can manifest like other conditions, so it is crucial to pinpoint the start of the pain and see a doctor as soon as possible. They can typically diagnose whiplash with a complete medical evaluation, X-rays, MRIs, and a thorough explanation of the circumstances that lead to the injury. When the cause is a rear-end collision or any other personal injury, you have the right to file a claim and recover the related damages.
What Damages Can You Recover Following a Whiplash Accident Injury?
Recovering your losses from a personal injury in New York does not always require a fault-based claim, depending on the severity of your injuries and losses. First, consider whether you meet the qualifications for bypassing the no-fault system to recover damages.
No-Fault Auto Insurance Claims
New York’s no-fault auto insurance policy requires all drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance to cover their medical bills, lost wages, and other reasonable and necessary expenses. This policy aims to ensure everyone involved in an accident can pay for the related expenses without worrying about building a solid fault-based claim. However, there are limitations to the system. For example, you cannot recover the non-economic damages often associated with more severe injuries. PIP coverage also caps the amount of recoverable income at $2,000 per month, regardless of your earnings before the accident. Additionally, if you need to hire someone to help with household chores during your recovery, PIP only pays $25 per day for all necessary services.
For some whiplash victims, this is sufficient. However, if you suffered other, more severe injuries, you may qualify for the serious injury threshold that allows you to bypass the PIP step. Serious injuries include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Suffering substantial disability for 90 days or more
- Significant disfigurement
- Limited use of a body organ, member, function, or system
When you can access the fault-based system, you can recover significantly more economic losses and the non-economic losses not available through the no-fault policy.
Economic Losses From an Auto Accident
Economic losses, such as medical bills, are available through PIP insurance. However, with a fault-based claim, you can also recover the following:
- All lost wages, including lost earning opportunities or income missed because of lost earning capacity
- All necessary replacement services, such as household help, transportation, and childcare
- The costs associated with preparing your vehicle or replacing any property damaged beyond repair
- Any services needed during recovery, such as household help, childcare, and transportation to medical visits
Proving these losses requires official documentation. You can speed up the process by keeping track of medical records and bills. Collect your pay stubs and recent tax returns to show a change in income, and have a mechanic estimate the cost to repair your vehicle. Your attorney can use this information to argue on your behalf.
Non-Economic Losses From an Auto Accident
The court recognizes losses beyond monetary damages. More severe injuries can negatively impact a person’s mental and emotional health. Some common non-economic losses from a car accident include:
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish, such as anxiety or depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Losing the ability to enjoy your life
- Physical pain and suffering caused by the injury
- Physical pain and suffering resulting from necessary medical treatments
The value of non-economic losses is generally based on the severity of your injuries. Therefore, more severe injuries would have more substantial non-economic damages.
What Does a Whiplash Accident Lawyer Do?
Whiplash accident lawyers are experts in personal injury law. They help victims by adequately valuing their claims and fighting combative insurance adjusters to ensure their clients receive compensation that reflects their losses. Some ways your lawyer will help build your case include:
- Investigating the cause of your injury to you find evidence of negligence or malicious intent committed by the at-fault party
- Identifying all the economic and non-economic losses in your case and gathering evidence to prove them
- Using the evidence as leverage to negotiate a fast and fair settlement for your losses
- Preparing and filing all necessary paperwork for your claim or lawsuit
- Guiding you through every step in the legal process to ensure you make choices that will benefit you
- Accessing experts in relevant fields, such as accident reconstruction, healthcare, and auto repair, to help strengthen your claim
- Interviewing friends, family, and medical professionals for testimonies supporting your non-economic losses
As personal injury experts, whiplash accident lawyers can offer a professional presence and emotional support. They see the suffering tort victims undergo and can provide compassionate understanding. Additionally, their experience means they can recognize the value of your claim better than someone unfamiliar with these cases. With a whiplash accident lawyer representing you, your chances of recovering a larger settlement are higher.
When Should You Contact a Whiplash Accident Lawyer?
You can contact a whiplash accident lawyer immediately after the accident. There is no time too soon to start building your case when you have an injury that can cause long-term, debilitating pain. Suppose you qualify to file a fault-based personal injury claim in New York. In that case, you may need an attorney to investigate your case, gather sufficient evidence to prove your claim, and handle the insurance company to avoid the added stress while you focus on healing. With an attorney on your side, you are better equipped to face combative insurers and the tedious legal legwork.
At Cellino Law, we have decades of experience helping personal injury victims get the compensation necessary to get their lives back on track. We aim to provide courtroom excellence and compassionate understanding as part of our client’s experience. Additionally, we understand the financial burden you may face. Therefore, we offer our services at no upfront cost to ensure you have the legal representation you need without adding to your financial losses. Contact Cellino Law at (800) 555-5555 to schedule your risk-free case evaluation. Our phone lines are never closed, and we are always ready to work on your case.