Severe and life-threatening back and neck injuries can occur from a nasty car wreck. However, such symptoms and signs are not always immediately visible or felt by the victims. It can take days, sometimes weeks, for damage to fully manifest. Injuries also vary significantly from slight to severe, making them unique to the individual and their body’s trauma from the accident’s impact. Even a “minor” injury can profoundly impact one’s body and, as a result, their life.
The complex nature of our backs and necks, which house the spinal cord, means an injury to one of these areas can also detrimentally affect other body parts, making your day-to-day living dramatically different than pre-accident. For example, your mobility could be affected by a neck and back injury, which can have an enormous impact.
Medical attention is, of course, the first thing needed after being in such a crash; however, overlooking or forgoing professional legal guidance can cost you. Proper medical treatment and legal support are essential when filing your insurance claim and considering a settlement.
Injury Severity Influences Settlement Value
Settlement amounts for neck and back injuries range extensively and depend on several factors, the first being the severity of your injury. The average settlement for a car crash that involves a minor soft tissue injury to the back or neck (like whiplash) could range between $2,500 and $10,000. A cervical spine injury, one of the more severe and life-altering injuries, can result in a settlement around and upward of one million dollars. Spinal cord injuries to the cervical region are the most severe and can affect both sides of the body. When damage occurs higher up in the spine, the consequences are more serious.
Geography can also impact your settlement value. California has some of the highest median and average settlement amounts in the nation for neck and back injuries. The average in California was $1.7 million, and the median was just over $1.5 million. For perspective, California neighbor, Oregon, has a median settlement value for such injuries at under $250,000 and an average at just over $260,000. In determining the value of a settlement, you and your attorney should consider all possible contributing factors (even those less obvious).
Required Treatments, Therapy, Prognosis, and Conduct
At any rate, settlements may be up to $30,000 when physical therapy and injections are necessary to treat an injury. In the event of a broken bone or another problematic injury, a settlement can exceed $100,000. The value of your claim or the amount of your settlement may be higher if your physician indicates that you will continue to be in pain, have continued worsening and limited mobility, or have another impairment. Suppose the victim suffers a disability from a car accident. In that case, they may be entitled to compensation for future damage, which would need to be calculated and factored in before signing a settlement.
How you conduct yourself following an accident can also impact your settlement value. For example, suppose you are apologetic to the party you know caused your injury. In this case, a misconstrued apology could leave a nearby potential witness and even the police on scene questioning who the at-fault party is or sympathizing with them. Confusion, fear, disorientation, need to comfort, kindness, and other reasons can lead to saying sorry when something isn’t your fault leading to comparative negligence being used in court to put partial blame on you despite being the victim. Defendants in California can claim comparative negligence to reduce their fault in civil cases.
A simple, ill-placed “I’m sorry” statement can negatively impact your claim and prospective settlement. Even if you meant sorry, the event occurred in a general sense, you could end up being deemed 1%-100% at fault, which is frustrating and costly, particularly as a victim.
Many aspects impact a settlement offer: documentation, police reports, prognosis, completing advised medical treatment, organization of medical records, filing your claim promptly, even conduct as described above, and other additional components.
In the event you have suffered a neck or back injury in a car accident (mild or severe), you should contact an experienced California personal injury attorney to ensure you get the settlement you deserve. A proficient Bay Area lawyer can work with you every step of the way and ensure you are not offered an inadequate amount for your injuries. Signing a settlement without the counsel of a skilled attorney can leave you with overwhelming medical bills and costly future expenses that your settlement amount won’t be able to cover.