- 1. What’s the Average Insurance Settlement for Neck and Back Injuries?
- 2. How Do Injury Lawyers Calculate Settlement Values After a Car Accident?
- 3. 6 Factors That May Impact Your Neck or Back Injury Settlement
- 4. Do I Really Need an Injury Lawyer After a Neck or Back Injury?
- 5. Crosley Law: Fighting for Crash Victims with Back and Neck Injuries
If you or someone you love suffered neck or back injuries in a car accident, you know how even a seemingly “minor” injury can change your life. Neck and back injuries often have a profound impact and involve difficult recoveries. When you’re struggling with the uncertainty of crash-related injuries, it may be tempting to take any settlement offer you receive from the insurance company.
In this article, our injury lawyers will explain factors that may impact your claim’s value and how you should react to an insurance company settlement offer.
What’s the Average Insurance Settlement for Neck and Back Injuries?
If you calculated the average car accident settlement for someone with neck or back injuries, it could be surprisingly low. The average settlement value for bodily injuries in 2013 was around $15,400 – but don’t let this figure mislead you. The worth of the “average” case has nothing to do with your injury settlement because your situation is unique.
Back and neck injuries cover a variety of conditions, from minor sprains and strains to paralyzing spinal cord injuries. Your case also involves unique circumstances, legal issues, and insurance policies. For this reason, you should never decide whether a settlement offer for your injury case is fair based on an arbitrary “average” settlement number. Instead, it’s best to consult an experienced car accident lawyer and get advice grounded in the unique facts that could affect the value of your case.
How Do Insurance Adjusters Calculate Settlement Values?
Insurance adjusters investigate claims for their employers—and their job is to save the insurance company as much money as possible. They will start by reviewing your medical records, crash reports, and other evidence. However, they will look at your case very differently than a personal injury attorney.
Your attorney sees you as a person with a serious back injury who needs medical treatment and a fair settlement. The adjuster sees you as a case number associated with medical costs, property damage, and other expenses.
If there are any issues in your case, or you’re unrepresented, the adjuster may try to take advantage of these weaknesses to reduce or eliminate your payout. That’s why you should never accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer — it’s probably undervalued and doesn’t fully consider the severity of the injuries you suffered.
How Do Injury Lawyers Calculate Settlement Values After a Car Accident?
Most car accident cases involve negligence. You’ll need to prove a few things to recover damages from the insurance company:
- The at-fault driver or party owed you a duty of care, like those set out in Texas’ rules of the road
- The at-fault driver violated this duty, causing your injuries
- The at-fault driver’s actions resulted in damages, such as lost income, pain and suffering, and medical bills
If you cannot prove any of these elements, the insurance company and courts may reject your claim.
Because you need to show negligence, most car crash cases begin with a careful investigation. This can help your lawyer understand the other party’s reckless actions, your damages, and other important facts. The investigation might involve consulting with experts, reviewing your medical records and crash data, and interviewing witnesses.
However, proving negligence is just the starting point. Many factors can affect the strength and value of your neck or back injury claim. When you work with an injury lawyer, they will carefully evaluate these issues, looking for ways to increase your jury award or settlement.
6 Factors That May Impact Your Neck or Back Injury Settlement
Each victim’s injuries and recovery process are different. You can’t simply say that a spinal cord injury or a soft tissue injury is worth a guaranteed amount of money. However, people with catastrophic injuries will generally receive higher settlements.
When you work with an attorney from the Crosley Law team, we’ll consider the many contributing factors at play in your claims. We begin with the severity of your injury and your likelihood of recovery, then add in other important pieces to calculate your neck and back injury claim’s settlement value.
While we can’t give you a number without learning the unique facts, we can discuss some things that may affect your overall compensation.
1. Your Type of Neck or Back Injury
During a car or truck accident, your body experiences forces like acceleration and deceleration, which can cause tissues to stretch and rip and bones to break. This trauma often causes serious and sometimes permanent damage. Your back and neck are complex structures, made up of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tissues. Even a little swelling or inflammation can cause severe pain.
Common injuries to the neck and back from car crashes include:
- Spinal cord injuries: The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that connects your brain to the rest of your body. Spine injuries can disrupt this connection and lead to paralysis. If an accident severed your spinal cord, the damage is permanent.
- Broken vertebrae: Forces from a car accident can lead to broken bones in your spinal column. These bones protect your spinal cord and help you stand upright, and injuries may require bracing, fusion surgeries, and medication.
- Herniated discs: Your discs are shock absorbers that let your back move smoothly and comfortably. When a disc tears or deforms, its jelly-like insides can press on the nerves in your back and neck, causing severe pain. While some herniated discs resolve on their own, many require surgery, injections, physical therapy, and chronic pain management.
- Slipped vertebrae (spondylolisthesis): A collision can push your vertebral bodies, the bones that make up your spinal column, out of place. While you may not even notice a minor slippage, a severely slipped vertebra can press on nerves and tissues, and you may need surgery as a result.
- Sprains and strains: Crashes can cause tiny tears and swelling in the muscles and ligaments in your neck and back. These tears can cause significant pain, but they typically resolve with time, rest, and medication. However, doctors sometimes misdiagnose herniated discs and other injuries as sprains and strains.
- Whiplash: A type of sprain or strain, whiplash occurs when your neck jerks back and forth during an auto accident. A whiplash injury will usually mean damaged tissue.
- Pinched nerves: Herniated discs, swelling, slipped vertebrae, and other injuries can pinch the nerves that branch off your spinal cord. A pinched nerve can cause numbness, shooting pain, and weakness. Sometimes, pinched nerves require injection therapy, nerve blocks, or surgery.
- Degenerative changes: Arthritis in your spine can develop over time because of wear and tear, but a major trauma could speed up the process. Pain and limited movement might get a lot worse because of the impact.
When our injury lawyers calculate settlement values, we consider the severity of your injuries and your likelihood of recovery. If you have a permanent, life-changing back or neck injury, it will probably be worth more than a minor sprain.
2. Your Need for Ongoing Medical Care
After a car crash, you may need to see specialists, surgeons, and physical therapists. You might even need help with basic needs, like using the bathroom and getting dressed. Your medical expenses could include:
- Diagnostic studies, like MRIs, CT scans, and EMGs
- Surgeries, such as fusions, discectomies, and laminectomies
- Physical therapy
- Injections to reduce swelling and pain
- Back and neck braces
- Medication and pain management services
- Wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices
All your medical care, including future treatment, should be included in your personal injury claim.
It’s also important to remember that accident victims with serious injuries sometimes need multiple surgeries, and complications can occur. Your lawyer should take all these factors into account and consult with your doctors before they start settlement negotiations.
3. Whether You Can Return to Work
For most people, their job is an important part of their identity and daily routine. Lost income and wage-earning capacity are also an essential part of your injury claim. If you can quickly return to work, your case may be worth less than someone who has a permanent disability.
However, many people with neck and back injuries struggle on the job. For example, a herniated disc in your low back may make standing or sitting for long periods impossible. You may also find it hard to lift, reach, bend, or twist. Sometimes, your medications will create significant side effects, like fatigue or lightheadedness.
Your lawyer will have to determine how your neck and back injuries will affect your income over your lifetime. They may even consult with vocational specialists and other experts to figure out all the long-term consequences of your injuries.
4. The Amount of Insurance That Covers Your Crash
After a car crash in Texas, you’ll need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the driver was working at the time of the collision, your claim might be against their employer rather than their personal insurance policy. Your lawyer will help you navigate these issues and identify all the coverage that may come into play with your neck and back injuries.
Unfortunately, many drivers don’t have enough insurance to fully cover your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. In these cases, your lawyer will also consider other insurance options, like your personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured/underinsured motorist policies.
5. The Strength of Your Legal Claims (and of Insurance Company Defenses)
Not every injury claim is clear-cut. Sometimes, at-fault drivers try to blame victims for crashes. This can even happen in rear-end collisions. Insurance companies will use defenses like comparative fault to reduce or eliminate your compensation.
To fight back, you’ll need to understand the relative strength of your legal claims and defenses. Your lawyer can help you address these issues and build a comprehensive litigation strategy.
6. Texas’ Statute of Limitations
You typically only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in Texas. So, if you wait more than two years from the date of your crash to file a complaint against the at-fault driver or the insurance company, you may lose out on your right to compensation.
Even if two years sounds like a long time, you should never wait to get in touch with a lawyer. It takes time to fully investigate a car crash, negotiate a settlement, and prepare a case for trial. The longer you wait, the more difficult this process will become.
Do I Really Need an Injury Lawyer After a Neck or Back Injury?
Sometimes, the insurance company will quickly offer you a settlement after a car wreck. The adjuster may even discourage you from contacting a lawyer, saying it’s not worth the time and money. However, lawyers play an essential role in car accident claims and lawsuits. Here are three reasons why.
Your Attorney Will Look Out for Your Best Interests
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and they want to settle your claim for as little as possible. Meanwhile, an attorney’s job is to represent your interests and get you the best outcome they possibly can. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you calculate the real value of your claim and negotiate a fair settlement.
For example, our team worked with a brother and sister who were hit by a drunk driver. In addition to other injuries, both victims also experienced significant neck and back pain. Before trial, the insurance company offered them a total of $25,000. Based on our investigation, we knew this offer was absurd and wouldn’t come close to covering the true costs of the injuries.
We prepared the case for trial and selected a jury. After the opening days, the insurance company had a change of heart and agreed to pay the full policy limits. The final settlement amount was more than five times the insurance company’s initial offer.
While every case is different, it’s always worthwhile to get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney before finalizing your claim. Once you settle, you can’t go back and demand additional compensation, even if your condition worsens or you need another surgery.
Your Attorney Only Gets Paid if You Get Compensation for Your Injuries
You don’t need money in the bank to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. At Crosley Law, we have a no-fee policy, and initial consultations are always free. If you decide to work with our law firm and we recover a settlement or jury award for you, we’ll charge you a percentage of your compensation. Otherwise, you won’t have to pay anything.
We also advance our clients’ case costs and fees. This means we won’t charge you for the cost of collecting your evidence (like medical records) or filing fees unless we win your case at court or reach a settlement.
There’s no risk or commitment involved when you contact our office and get advice about your personal injury case. Any fees you eventually pay will come out of the results we get. The insurance company’s argument that you can’t afford a car accident lawyer doesn’t hold up.
Back and Neck Claims Are Very Complex
Most crash victims don’t have the experience and knowledge needed to navigate their claims. When you review your medical records, you’ll find terminology and abbreviations that are hard to understand. Your doctors and the insurance company’s experts may disagree about your need for more medical care and whether the crash caused your injuries. And it’s easy to miss deadlines and legal procedures when you’re trying to heal and manage a never-ending parade of doctors’ appointments.
When you work with an injury lawyer, you don’t have to worry about medical terminology, expert witnesses, or legal technicalities. Instead, your team will manage all these issues, giving you time and space to focus on your physical and mental health.
Crosley Law: Fighting for Crash Victims with Back and Neck Injuries
At Crosley Law, our team works with crash victims across Texas, helping them understand their legal options and the true value of their claims. We take an aggressive approach to settlement negotiations and aren’t afraid to take cases to trial when the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. (2015). Your Guide to Understanding Insurance. Retrieved from http://www.rmiia.org/auto/traffic_safety/Cost_of_crashes.asp
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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