Car accidents can be a traumatic experience, leaving you with physical injuries and emotional distress. One of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents is whiplash. Whiplash, although often considered minor, can cause long-term discomfort and pain if left untreated.
If you have suffered from whiplash due to a car accident that wasn’t your fault, building a strong compensation claim is crucial. In this blog post, we will outline five simple steps to help you build a solid whiplash claim after a car accident and get the compensation you deserve. So let’s dive in!
Step 1: Seek Medical Attention
The most important first step after any car accident is to get checked out by a doctor, even if you feel fine. Whiplash and related neck injuries often don’t show symptoms immediately, so don’t take any chances with your health. Seek medical attention immediately.
- Go to your nearest emergency room or urgent care center. Explain that you were in a car accident and are concerned about potential whiplash or neck strain.
- Get a full exam. The doctor will check your range of motion and pain levels and look for signs of injury. They may order X-rays, CT scans or MRIs if needed.
- Report all symptoms. Be very specific about any pain, stiffness, headaches, or other issues you’re experiencing, even if they seem minor. The smallest details can help the doctor determine if you have whiplash or other injuries.
- Follow the recommended treatment plan. This typically includes rest, icing the injury, physical therapy or neck exercises, and over-the-counter or prescription pain medication as needed. The doctor may provide a neck brace for added support and stability.
Getting prompt medical care is the foundation for building a strong whiplash claim. Ensure you get copies of all exam records, test results, diagnoses, and prescribed treatments to support your claim. The insurance companies and attorneys will need this documentation to evaluate your case properly.
Step 2: Gather Evidence
After seeking initial medical care, your next step is to gather evidence to support your whiplash claim. This includes:
- Take photos of the accident scene, any vehicle damage, and your injuries as soon as possible. Pictures provide visual proof of what happened. Get photos from multiple angles if you can.
- Obtain a copy of the official police report. The report contains details about the accident that can corroborate your account of events. Request a copy from the police department that responded to the scene.
- Collect statements from any witnesses. Get the names and contact information of people who saw the accident happen. Their accounts can strengthen your claim. Ask them to provide written and signed statements about what they observed.
- Gather medical records and treatment details. This includes emergency room discharge papers, doctor’s diagnoses and prognoses, therapy or chiropractic session notes, prescription information, and receipts for any medical equipment. These documents prove your injuries and the treatment required.
The more evidence you can compile to support your whiplash claim, the stronger your case will be. While it may be difficult to do in the aftermath of an accident, making an effort to document the details surrounding your claim thoroughly can make a big difference in obtaining fair compensation. The insurance company and legal team will review all evidence to determine the merits of your claim.
Step 3: Document Expenses and Losses
Keep records of all medical expenses related to your whiplash injury. This includes:
- Doctor and chiropractor visit copays
- Prescription and over-the-counter medication costs
- Medical devices like neck braces
- Physical therapy or massage therapy fees
- Ask for itemized receipts and bills for all treatments. Make copies of everything.
- Keep a running total of the amounts paid out of pocket. This will help determine the economic losses from your injury.
If your whiplash prevented you from working, keep records of missed time.
- Get a doctor’s note specifying the dates you were unable to work.
- Ask your employer for pay stubs showing your typical wages or salary.
- Calculate the total income lost during your time off work. For example, if you make $20/hour and missed two weeks of full-time work, your lost wages would be $20 x 40 hours x 2 weeks = $1600.
While economic losses are straightforward, pain and suffering are more subjective. Keep a journal documenting:
- Your pain levels each day on a scale of 1 to 10
- Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, enjoying hobbies
- Mood changes like irritability, depression or anxiety
- Limitations in mobility or daily activities
This documentation will help demonstrate the severity of your whiplash symptoms. Share this journal with your doctor and lawyer to help build evidence for fair compensation.
Step 4: Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Boynton Beach, Florida.
After your accident, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney in Boynton Beach, Florida should be a top priority. They can properly assess your claim, determine fault, and fight to get you the maximum compensation.
Look for attorneys that have experience in car accident and whiplash cases. Check online reviews from past clients to find reputable lawyers with a proven track record of success. Schedule consultations with a few top choices. Come prepared with details about your accident, injuries, and any evidence collected.
- Ask about their experience with whiplash claims and success rate. An established attorney will have handled many similar cases.
- Discuss their fee structure. Most work on contingency, taking a percentage of your settlement. Get estimates of potential compensation so you know what to expect.
- Assess how attentive and communicative they seem. Your attorney should be available to answer questions and provide updates on your claim.
Once retained, provide your lawyer with all evidence of the crash, like photos, video, medical records and bills. Be forthcoming about the details of your accident and injuries. The more information they have, the better they can determine fault and fight for fair compensation on your behalf.
Step 5: Negotiate or File a Lawsuit
If the insurance company denies your claim or offers you a lowball settlement that doesn’t fairly compensate you for your injuries and damages, it’s time to negotiate. Send a written response explaining why their offer is unacceptable, and provide evidence to support a higher amount, e.g. medical bills, lost wages, etc. You can also suggest a reasonable counteroffer.
- Highlight the severity of your injuries and how they have impacted your life. Describe your pain, suffering, and any long-term effects.
- Calculate your total costs, including medical expenses, physical therapy, medication, and lost income. Provide copies of bills, receipts, pay stubs, etc., as proof.
- Research average settlement amounts for similar whiplash claims in your area to determine what is fair. Aim high, as the insurance company will likely negotiate down.
- If needed, get a second opinion from another doctor to strengthen your case. Their diagnosis and prognosis can help validate your claim.
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney to handle negotiations on your behalf. They have experience dealing with insurance companies and can help you get the maximum settlement.
If negotiations fail and you cannot agree, you may need to take your claim to court. Filing a personal injury lawsuit is a serious step, but getting the compensation you deserve may be necessary, especially for severe or permanent injuries.
Contact a Boynton Beach Car Accident Lawyer
Once you’ve sought initial medical care, it’s time to think about building a claim to cover the costs of your whiplash injury. You must contact an experienced Boynton Beach car accident lawyer to understand your legal options and the claims process.
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we have been serving the Boynton Beach area for years. Call us today at (561) 800-8000. They offer free case evaluations and will fight to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries.
The claims process can be complicated, but with an experienced lawyer, you’ll have the best chance of recovering damages for your whiplash injury.