According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 2.6 million passenger vehicle occupants are injured annually in traffic accidents, accounting for 95 percent of all injury-causing accidents on the road. Approximately two-thirds of people involved in car accidents develop neck sprains or strains, with back injuries being the second most common injury.
From whiplash and herniated discs to spinal cord damage, a variety of back and neck injuries can result from the impact of an auto accident. As medical bills and lost wages begin to pile up, many victims of back and neck injuries must seek compensation for the pain and suffering they've endured. But, what is the average settlement for a car accident back and neck injury?
How Is an Injury Valued?
Each personal injury case is composed of its own unique factors, which can make it difficult to associate a specific dollar value with an injury. Valuing a case is more than just adding up damages. It's also tacking on the added stress of pain and suffering, a non-economic damage.
When valuing a case, a back and neck injury victim must work together with a car accident attorney to calculate the potential amount a jury could award the victim. Then, they must estimate what the at-fault individual would be willing to pay, and what the victim would be willing to accept. These factors help form the basis of what the victim would claim in a complaint against the at-fault driver.
Ultimately, the value of the back/neck injury relies on four factors:
- The nature of the back/neck injury
- The severity of the back/neck injury
- How long the injury lasted/will last
- How likely a jury would be to find the other driver liable
Factors That Help Value an Injury
The nature of the back or neck injury can make a large difference in settlement. For instance, a neck injury can range from a minor strain to whiplash or a neck fracture. Back injuries can be a herniated disc or extensive spinal trauma. The worse the nature of the injury is, the more likely that a jury will award the victim a higher settlement.
Likewise, the severity of the injury will impact the settlement. Did the injury require surgery, physical therapy, or other ongoing treatment? This goes hand-in-hand with how long the injury lasted, or will last. Whiplash, for example, can have symptoms that lessen in six weeks or persist for months, and even years. If the injury requires extensive treatment, or will require future medical care, chances are a larger settlement will be granted to compensate the costs of upcoming medical treatment.
Lastly, a trusted personal injury attorney will be realistic about how a jury of peers may act when deciding if the other driver was fully liable for the victim's injuries. If both drivers shared fault, or fault was unclear, a potential settlement could be lessened.
Circumstances That Influence Higher Settlements
The nature and extent of a victim's back and neck injuries are essential to the foundation of a settlement. However, there are a few non-injury circumstances that also influence a settlement amount.
- The liability of the at-fault individual
- How much insurance coverage is available
- If the at-fault individual included a larger corporation or has a higher level of liability, as with trucking accidents
Personal injury relies on negligence and liability. If liability is not disputed, then the victim is more likely to receive full compensation. In a personal injury claim, the first step is to look toward's the at-fault individual's insurance policy for compensation. If there is little insurance coverage, that will be the maximum you will be able to recover unless you have Underinsured motorist (UM) coverage under your own policy.
Likewise, the size of the insurance policy can be subject to change if there are several levels of liability. We see this in more high profile cases, like those involving major corporations, or those involving large trucks. In the case of trucking accidents, a victim could pursue the truck driver, the company that employed the truck driver, the owner of the truck, and even the company that loaded the truck with goods. With each level of liability, the insurance policy coverage could potentially increase or decrease, which could mean a different settlement amount for the victim.
What Compensation Should I Expect?
With back and neck injuries resulting from a car accident, settlement amounts frequently vary. Looking at the individual aspects of your case, such as the severity of your injury, if you'll need future treatment, and if the other party was negligent, can be good indicators of a settlement amount. You can input these factors into our free personal injury calculator for a estimate.
For back and neck injuries, a settlement can range from $10,000 to upwards of $2 million or even more, depending on the injuries incurred. For instance, a minor rear-end collision that resulted in whiplash injuries can result in a $9,000 settlement. But, an accident that causes a victim to need surgery to repair damage as well as physical therapy to alleviate pain can result in a settlement of $1 million to $2 million or even more
Ultimately, for the most accurate representation of a potential settlement, a victim's best course of action is to consult with a qualified car accident attorney. Together you can work through the factors of your case, discuss possible roadblocks, and prepare for a settlement that matches your damages.
If you've recently been involved in an auto accident which resulted in neck and back injuries, contact Weinstein Legal today.