If you have searched the internet to find a value for your injuries, you have likely noticed a big difference in estimates. In part, this is due to the fact that “whiplash” injuries (sometimes called minor impact soft tissue injuries or MIST) vary so much in their physical damage to the vehicle, emergency response at the time of the accident, medical treatment, follow-up care, loss of income, as well as pain and suffering. Additionally, depending on the state you are located in and even the specific county in which a jury would be empaneled, your odds of a jury finding in the plaintiff’s favor can vary widely.
Victims always want a nice calculation such as three times medical expenses. However, that is simply never the case. If you “under-treated” “over-treated” or were inconsistent in making your medical appointments, be prepared for a fight from the insurance company. If you’re handling your case without a lawyer, be prepared for the adjuster to spring this on you at the end of your treatment period.
Despite the inconsistent settlement amounts and jury verdicts, there are some truths for soft tissue injury victims. First, because your injury is not visible to a jury, it is important to have your injury documented by a medical professional. Second, because juries tend to be skeptical about injuries they can not see, make sure your treatment behavior is consistent with someone claiming to be truly hurt. For example, do not plan to successfully assert that you have been in so much pain that you can’t get out of bed but, at the same time, you never went to see a doctor. This can be tricky for a person without insurance but, if you talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer, he or she will typically know of service providers who will hold your bill until the case settles. Third, do not exaggerate your claim. Sometimes, people get bad advice from friends that if you “rack up your medical bills, you will get more money.” This could not be further from the truth. Reasonable care is the key. If you “over-treat” be prepared to get stuck with some of the medical bills and no money in your pocket for pain and suffering.
The moral of the story is that you need to seek legal advice from an injury lawyer in your area. If you were injured in Bremerton but seek advice from a lawyer who practiced in Los Angeles, be prepared for quite a shock when it is time to settle your case. Geographical differences in personal injury cases are quite substantial. The insurance companies are well-versed in the jury verdicts of every county in the country. They know the range in value of your case and they are rarely going to venture outside of the range.
If you want accurate information, make sure you keep all of these factors in mind. Contact a local personal injury lawyer so you are prepared. Let the attorney know if law enforcement did a report (determining who was at fault), whether you were transported to the hospital, who responded to the accident, and any treatment providers you have seen since the date of the accident. Your lawyer will confirm whether the at-fault driver had insurance and whether the policy will be large enough to cover your treatment.
For more information about valuing your injuries from an auto, pedestrian or bike accident, contact Witt Law Group for a free consultation. Do not seek legal advice about your accident, injury treatment, or how to value your case from random “injury calculators” or generic non-local websites. On top of your physical injuries, you will likely injure your case!