Settlements in Car Accident Neck and Back Injury Cases
August 20, 2022
Car accidents often result in neck and back injuries. These injuries range from soft tissue strains to major damage to the spine and even paralysis. If you have suffered a neck or back injury in a car crash, many factors influence the value of your claim. This article will help you understand what you can expect from settlement talks after your motor vehicle accident and how an experienced car accident attorney can help you secure the maximum compensation you deserve.
How to Obtain Compensation After a Car Wreck that Resulted in a Neck or Back Injury
If you have sustained neck or back trauma in a car crash that was someone else’s fault, you can bring only a claim against the at-fault driver if your injuries are serious. Under Michigan No-Fault law, an injured person must show a serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement, or death to bring a claim against the negligent driver. The experienced attorneys at Gruel Mills, along with our medical team, can advise you as to whether your injuries satisfy this requirement.
If your neck or back injury is impacting your ability to live your normal life, you can bring a claim and potentially obtain a monetary recovery either through a settlement or a court verdict after a trial. Because trials are costly and their outcomes are not certain, most people prefer to settle their claims before trial if possible. There are some circumstances when it is worth going to trial to try to get the maximum award you deserve, but out-of-court settlements are much more common than jury trial verdicts.
Factors That Can Influence Your Settlement Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
Every car accident is unique, so no lawyer can tell you exactly how much money you will be able to recover after being injured in a car crash. The value of your case depends on a number of factors, such as:
- The extent and the severity of your back and neck injuries
- The type of treatments your injuries require
- Whether future medical treatments will be necessary, and if so, for how long
- How your back and neck injuries affect your overall quality of life
- Whether your neck and back injuries resulted in paralysis or a permanent disability
- Your ability to work after the car crash and whether the injury resulted in lost wages, and if so, for how long
- The extent of your pain and suffering
- Your ability to partake in regular and everyday activities that you did before the accident, and whether you need help taking care of yourself or your household
- The type of evidence presented and the credibility of this evidence
- The defendant’s culpability in the crash
- The insurance policy limits and whether the defendant has assets that could be collected
Even though an attorney cannot predict precisely how much money you can obtain, they can review these factors and the specifics of what happened and prepare the best case for you as they pursue the money you need to recover.
Types of Monetary Damages You Can Pursue in a Lawsuit Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
There are different types of damages that you can pursue in a claim against an at-fault driver. Some of these damages depend on the amount of insurance coverage both you and the at-fault driver had at the time of the crash. These damages include:
Economic damages are the easily measurable monetary losses that result from an accident. In Michigan, if you have no-fault insurance, your own insurer will cover some or all of these expenses, which are called personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. If you have chosen a no-fault insurance plan with less than unlimited PIP coverage, the at-fault driver may be liable for any economic damages not covered by your insurer.
These losses include things such as:
- Medical bills related to doctor visits, hospital stay, emergency services, including ambulance services and emergency room visits, surgeries, medications, and other medical treatments, and medical equiptment
- Personal property damages (replacement services and repair costs)
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- Ongoing medical care
- Replacement of household services, such as child care, home maintenance, and similar services
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair
- Other expenses resulting from the accident
These damages refer to the personal losses that result from an accident that are not easy to quantify, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Physical impairment or physical disfigurement
- Impact on your relationships, which is called loss of society and companionship
- Reputation loss
To determine which of these damages you can pursue following your car accident, it is a good idea to work with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can review the facts of your crash, determine the extent of your losses, determine which of these damages apply, and help you go after the money you need.
Should You Accept the First Settlement Offer You Receive From the Insurance Company?
The at-fault driver’s insurance company may offer you a settlement amount shortly after your accident. However, before you accept this amount, you need to consider whether taking this money will meet your needs.
Insurance companies, like other businesses, want to make a profit. They meet this goal by doing what they can to get you to accept a settlement for the lowest possible amount. It is thus no surprise that after a car collision, when you are most vulnerable, these insurance companies may offer you a low settlement in hopes you do not verify whether it is fair to you.
Right after a crash, you do not know whether your injuries will heal, how long that will take or what medical treatments will be necessary, or whether you may have lifelong limitations. Thus, you cannot know if a settlement is enough. Worse yet, if you accept this settlement, you cannot return to the company in the future and ask them for more money.
Consequently, before you accept anything from the insurance company, you should review their offer with a knowledgeable car accident attorney. These legal professionals can determine whether the amount is fair.. If not, they can go back to the negotiation table with the insurance company and fight for the money you deserve.
The Time Limitations That Affect Your Claim In These Accidents
Another factor that victims of a car crash should watch out for when pursuing money for their neck and back injuries is the time limitations involved in filing their case. In Michigan, claims against an at-fault driver must be filed within three years after the crash, although there are a few narrow exceptions to this statute of limitations.
Although this may seem like a long time, you should reach out to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible following a car crash that resulted in a back or neck injury. There is also a lot that must be done before this deadline to prepare your case, and your attorney can also work to negotiate a settlement before filing suit. Your lawyers will also figure out precisely how much time you have to file your case and ensure that all the legal filings are prepared and submitted to the appropriate court before this period expires.
The Evidence That Is Most Useful in a Neck and Back Injury Case
Generally, in a neck and back injury case, certain types of evidence are more valuable than others. For instance, consider the following:
Proving you are entitled to monetary recovery after a car crash that resulted in a neck and back injury can be complicated and challenging. Many people have degenerative damage to their neck and back simply due to normal aging, and it is difficult to distinguish some of this damage from a traumatic injury on medical imaging. Insurance companies often argue that your back or neck pain existed before the crash, or is only due to aging rather than a result of the crash. Medical experts can provide testimony to show the severity of your injuries and the connection between your injuries and the motor vehicle accident.
Even if you had a preexisting issue or degenerative damage, a car crash may cause you new or worse pain in your neck and back. This exacerbation of neck and back issues can entitle you to a recovery if your life is significantly affected.
Another piece of evidence that can significantly help your case is your medical records from your doctors, both before and after the crash. This evidence can help show the financial costs associated with your injuries, the diagnosis of your injuries, and the types of treatments you will need following this accident. Your medical records can also show if you have new or worse pain and injuries that did not exist prior to the accident.
As a result, you should keep copies of all your records and bills as you receive treatment and provide them to your attorney when you meet to discuss your case.
Photos and Videos of the Accident
If possible, collect videos or photos of the accident to present to your lawyer, including pictures of:
- Your visible trauma
- The motor vehicles involved in the crash
- The placement of these vehicles on the road
- Traffic signs near the area
- Skid marks or road defects
These photos can help your attorney bolster your case, prove what happened, support the extent and validity of your injuries, and determine who was at fault for the collision. However, if you are having difficulty securing any of this evidence, do not worry. When you work with an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer, these attorneys can help you obtain this evidence while you focus on recovery and healing.
Go After the Money You Need With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
After a back and neck injury, you are likely dealing with significant stress. Between your pain, medical treatment, and recovery, and worries about the future and finances, it can be a lot to deal with. To help ease your burden, reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer, like those at Gruel Mills, as soon as possible.
- Review the facts of your car crash, determine whether you have a viable case, and what legal options are available.
- Provide you with the legal support you require and the answers to your questions and concerns.
- Handle the investigation into the incident, analyze the details of what happened, and try to find all the evidence needed to show fault and damages.
- Figure out who was responsible for the accident, and hold all those individuals accountable for your losses and injuries.
- Retain experts, including doctors, accident specialists, and economists, to validate your claim.
- Handle all negotiations with the insurer and the other side to obtain a just settlement offer.
- Proceed to trial if the insurance company is unwilling to get you the money you need and fight for the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries.
If you or a family member suffered back and neck injuries in a car collision, do not deal with the drastic repercussions on your own. Instead, contact an experienced car accident attorney at Gruel Mills today for a free case evaluation and learn more about how these attorneys can help you fight for your rights and the money you deserve.