Whiplash is one of the most common injuries as a result of a car crash. It is a soft tissue injury that is typically caused by a car accident that occured at a red light or stop sign. In these types of accidents, your head is jolted back and forth quickly. Whiplash injuries are characterized by neck pain and headaches that could start hours after the accident occurred. If you experience these symptoms, you should speak with a doctor immediately – they can be symptoms of a more serious condition, such as traumatic brain damage.
After you have taken care of your immediate medical needs, you should start thinking about your long term health and financial care. You may be able to make a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident and negotiate a settlement with their insurance company.
We divide the amount of money you can receive from a whiplash claim into special damages and general damages. Money cannot undo the car crash, but it can go a long way to making you whole again.
Special damages refer to expenses that come with receipts. The most obvious of these are your medical bills and other medical expenses you incurred while treating your injury. This category includes hospital and doctor bills, medication costs, as well as physical therapy and visits to a chiropractor. Remember to include other out-of-pocket costs, such as parking fees or gas spent getting to the doctor.
If your car was rear-ended, you may have property damage to your car, even if it is not a total loss. If you need to repair your vehicle, rent a stand-in, or replace it, you can ask for reimbursement to cover these damages as well. Property damage also extends to other items in the car, such as your computer and cell phone, as well as clothing that was ripped or damaged in the crash.
Another type of special damages comes in the form of lost wages. If you cannot work because of the extent of your injury, or if you are missing work due to numerous doctor’s appointments, you can seek reimbursement of money you would have earned otherwise.
Other damages can include child care expenses incurred as a result of increased doctor’s appointments or if you are no longer able to provide personal care due to the extent of your injuries.
To calculate special damages, simply add each expense together:
Medical bills and expenses + property damages + lost wages + other expenses = special damages
Create a physical file of every bill you receive and create a spreadsheet with a running total of your expenses. This kind of documentation will help you maximize the special damages you can receive.
Recovering from an injury is not limited to monetary reimbursements. It is often painful, stressful, and even after our broken bones heal, it can be a long time before we are back in the same mental and physical place we were before the crash.
Even though you cannot get that time back, you can receive money for the pain and discomfort you experience as a result of the accident, as well as any emotional distress you suffered.
You can be compensated for:
Physical pain and suffering
Emotional distress, including stress, depression, and anxiety
Nightmares or an inability to sleep
Loss of enjoyment of everyday activities
Disruption of daily lifestyle
Loss of consortium
These damages are not as easy to calculate. After all, what price can you place on being able to pick up your three-year-old daughter?
If, after your car accident, you are suffering from any of these, document your symptoms and consider working with a therapist. You may be able to receive help in getting back to your normal life, and you will also receive documentation that can help bolster your settlement claims.
The good news is that Arizona, unlike some other states, does not limit the amount of money you can receive as part of a death personal injury claim. However, you do not have an indefinite amount of time to file your claim. Most insurance companies require that you file within a short period of time after the accident, and Arizona gives you only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Do not miss your window of opportunity by waiting too long.
Your personal injury attorney will help you determine which claims for general damages you can make. This will help you get as much money as possible for your injuries and suffering.
This article does not provide legal advice. If you have been in a car accident and are suffering from a whiplash injury, contact our qualified auto accident attorneys for a free consultation. Our law firm has significant experience with every aspect of personal injury cases.
Ron is a founding partner of Petersen Johnson and has been practicing law since 1980.