When you get into a car, you don’t expect anything bad to happen, but unfortunately, over 6 million people in the United States experience a crash every year. The aftermath of a car accident can drastically change your life and often has a profound emotional impact.
Back and neck injuries are some of the most common injuries following a collision, and they are also some of the most impactful, often resulting in a long and expensive road to recovery. Medical bills, combined with lost wages, can leave victims in despair.
If you have suffered injuries due to someone else negligence, then you deserve compensation. The amount you could receive is dependent on a broad range of factors, and each case is unique. However, when you work with a top-rated personal injury attorney with the experience and resources necessary to handle even the most complex of cases, then you dramatically increase the likelihood of obtaining full and fair compensation.
Contact The Law Place today at (941) 444-4444 to schedule your free consultation. We have over 75 years of combined experience, and we are committed to seeking justice for our clients.
What Is Included in a Car Accident Settlement?
Before we delve into what you could expect from a settlement amount for back and neck injuries, you need to know what types of damages are available in personal injury lawsuits. They fall into three categories, economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages for back and neck injuries are designed to compensate you for monetary losses you incurred as a result of the collision. These types of damages are measurable and can be evidenced through medical bills, receipts, wage statements, credit card statements, and medical records indicating future costs. Some examples include:
- Reimbursement for medical bills and expenses.
- Anticipated future medical costs as a result of the accident.
- Lost wages due to time missed at work.
- Anticipated lost wages for the future and the cost of retraining if necessary.
- Property damage such as repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other belongings damaged in the accident.
Non-economic damages are designed to compensate victims for their physical pain and emotional suffering. They are much more difficult to quantify, but a personal injury lawyer can help you to place a value on your damages. Non-economic damages include:
- Emotional distress such as anxiety and depression as a result of the accident itself or resulting injuries.
- Physical and emotional pain suffered. These types of damages are referred to as pain and suffering.
- Loss of enjoyment in life because of injuries.
What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement for a Back or Neck Injury?
It’s difficult to put a value on neck and back injury settlements, as every case is so different. Your case could be worth anywhere from $20,000 to $1 million, depending on the severity of your neck injuries.
At The Law Place, we will not settle for less than your case is worth, and although most personal injury claims never make it to court, we will be prepared to present your case to a judge if necessary.
There is a misconception that hiring a law firm will result in you having less money in your pocket. This can be the case, especially with larger law firms that focus on quick turnaround and high value – often referred to as settlement mills. These firms employ inexperienced attorneys who will not take a case to court, even if it means settling for less. Insurance companies know who these firms are and know they can get away with offering less.
However, when you have a law firm such as The Law Place on your side, then we will ensure you are not taken advantage of. Just being represented by a lawyer with a good reputation means that insurance companies will know that you mean business and that you won’t settle for less than your case is worth. But don’t take our word for it. Most of our attorneys are AVVO rated 10.0 based on years in service, client reviews, awards, and more.
Common Back and Neck Injuries From Car Accidents
Whether you were in a minor car accident or a serious crash, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to determine the extent of your injuries. Following a collision, adrenaline will be high, and this can mask your injuries. Neck and back injuries are common following car accidents, and if you don’t seek a medical assessment and follow advice, then you could make your injuries worse.
It is also important to note that the sooner you seek medical attention, the easier it will be to prove that your injuries were a result of the crash, and if you don’t seek medical attention within 14 days of the incident, then you lose your right to compensation, as per Florida Statute 627.736.
The most common back and neck injuries after car accidents include:
Spinal Cord Injury
Injuries to the spine can range from sciatica to fracture. While mild injuries can be treated with medication and physical therapy, more severe spinal cord injuries could require surgery and ongoing medical care.
Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries involve tendons, ligaments, or muscles. They don’t show up on an X-Ray and can be overlooked. However, they are not minor injuries. Soft tissue injuries can cause chronic pain, especially when treatment is delayed. Examples include back sprain and whiplash.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Neck and back injuries involving fractures or broken bones can be incredibly serious. It could result in some form of paralysis that can affect someone for the rest of their life. Often back fractures involve expensive surgery.
Herniated Disc Injury
The sudden force from a collision can cause the discs between the vertebrae to slip out of alignment. This can be incredibly painful, and sometimes a lumbar or cervical fusion surgery may be needed.
Factors That Affect Your Car Accident Neck or Back Injury Settlement
While it is impossible to say exactly how much your case could be worth, there are factors to be taken into account in order to get a rough idea.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help determine the value of your claim. The most important factors they will consider are:
The Nature and Severity of the Injury
Back and neck injuries following a collision vary widely in severity, from minor whiplash injuries that heal within a few weeks to serious injuries that affect the car accident victim for the rest of their life.
This makes it difficult to say what the average settlement amount is. Generally, the worse the injury, or the more permanent its effects, the more the victim should revive in compensation.
It is not uncommon for a neck and back injury to cause debilitating physical pain that can be lifelong. While calculating economic damages such as lost wages and the cost of medical treatment is relatively straightforward, working out damages related to emotional suffering is much more complex.
Pain and suffering affect people differently, and depending on what hobbies they enjoy, the work they do, and how active they are, each person’s experience is unique. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you to determine what a fair settlement looks like for your individual case.
Proof of the Other Driver’s Liability
For car accident claims to be successful, negligence must be proven, and thus liability. Sometimes this is straightforward. Other times your personal injury attorney may need to pull together their resources to aid your case. At The Law Place, we often use accident reconstruction specialists to ensure that we can present strong evidence.
Liability tends to be straightforward in the following circumstances:
- Drunk driving car accidents – If a car crash involves a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will almost always be considered at fault. This is referred to as ‘no doubt liability.’ In these cases is unlikely that the insurance company will contest fault.
- Rear-end collisions – If another driver hits your car from behind, the back driver will usually be found liable. This is because traffic laws dictate that cars keep a safe distance from the car in front.
- Left turn collisions – If you were driving down a straight road, and were hit by a car making a left turn, then the fault is almost always assigned to the other driver. This is because drivers are required to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left turn.
Proving Negligence Following a Motor Vehicle Accident
Most auto accident cases are not so straightforward, and proving fault can feel like an uphill battle. In order to prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, four basic elements must be proven:
- Duty of care – In order to prove negligence, the liable party must have owed you a duty of care. Following a car or truck accident, this aspect is simple, as all drivers owe other road users a duty of care to operate their vehicles in a safe and reasonable way to keep those around them safe.
- The duty of care was breached – Next, it must be shown that the at-fault party violated their duty of care. They may have done this by disobeying traffic laws or behaving in an unreasonable way.
- The breach caused your injuries – Next, it must be proven that their behavior caused the auto accident that led to your neck or back injury.
- You suffered financial losses as a result of the breach – Finally, the breach of their duty of care must have caused your financial losses, such as medical expenses or lost wages.
If you have suffered a neck or back injury in an auto accident, then the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay out until you have satisfied the burden of proof. Your attorney will gather evidence in order to meet this requirement, which may include things such as:
- Medical records.
- Photos and videos of the accident scene.
- Police report.
- Witness statements.
- Surveillance footage.
- Reports from professionals such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals.
- Wage slips.
Your Own Liability in the Car Accident
The other driver’s insurance company will usually have an insurance adjuster assigned to your case, whose job it is to reduce your neck injury settlement and save the company money.
The most common way the other driver’s insurance company will try to undermine your claim is by arguing that you were partially at fault for the accident. Florida operates under a comparative fault system, which means that you can only claim a settlement value up to the degree that the other party was not at fault, as outlined in Florida Statute 768.81.
For example, if you are assigned 20% of the fault, and your settlement is worth $250,000, you will receive $20,000 in compensation. Your car accident attorney will work to reduce your liability and will not allow you to be unfairly blamed for an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Insurance Policy Limits
The average settlement value may also be affected by insurance policy limits. The amount an insurance company is willing to pay out for a neck or back injury could be affected by the degree of coverage you or the at-fault driver have.
For example, let’s say that you suffered a herniated disk injury following a collision with a drunk driver. Liability is clear, and there is sufficient evidence to prove the severity of the injury. Your damages are valued at $200,000, but the at-fault party insurance police limit is just $100,000. Unfortunately, you may only be able to recover the amount covered by their policy unless you can sue the at-fault driver personally in a personal injury lawsuit. Or you may be able to claim further compensation from another party if there was more than one driver at fault.
Your Attorney’s Ability to Negotiate
Even if you have a strong case, the skill and reputation of your attorney can have a big impact on your eventual settlement. An experienced attorney will understand how to negotiate and the importance of preparation, timing, and strategy.
The initial offer from the insurance company is almost always much lower than you deserve. You should not accept an offer without first speaking to an attorney, as once you have accepted an offer, you will not be able to fight for more.
When the time is right, your attorney will initiate negotiation by sending a demand letter, which often leads to back and forth communication until all parties can agree upon a value
Insurance companies have skilled attorneys working on their behalf who understand how to negotiate. Just by having a skilled attorney on your side, they will know that they can’t get away with a lowball offer. Make sure you have an attorney on your side who is able to negotiate a fair settlement.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
We have covered the importance of ensuring you have the right personal injury attorney representing you. However, if you have never dealt with lawyers before, you may be at a loss of how to know which one to choose.
Here are some questions that you can ask in a consultation before hiring a personal injury lawyer.
- How many personal injury claims has your firm dealt with?
- Can my personal injury claim go to trial, and do you have experience at trial?
- Approximately how long will it take for my case to be resolved?
- How involved will I be with my lawsuit?
- Which lawyer(s) will be handling my case?
- What are your fees?
- If I do not win compensation, will I have to pay any case-related costs?
- How much time do you have available to spend on my claim? How many other cases are you dealing with at the same time?
- How much could my claim be worth?
What Will It Cost Me to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
At The Law Place, we work on a contingency basis, as monitored by The State Bar Association. This means that we do not take any money upfront. Instead, our fees are deducted from your eventual settlement if you are successful.
At The Law Place, we pride ourselves on being transparent and upfront. We will not charge you anything if your case is unsuccessful, and we do not sneak in any surprise fees.
Call The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
Without knowing the specific details of your case, it is impossible to say what the average settlement is for a back or neck injury. But one thing is for sure, having the right attorney on your side can help to ensure that you get the settlement you deserve.
The amount you could receive depends on several factors, such as the seriousness of your injuries, the length of your medical treatment, the liability of the drivers involved, and the effect on your quality of life.
Insurance companies are likely to dispute or devalue your claim, so having legal representation can help to make sure that you secure the amount of compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and one of our attorneys can give you an idea of how much your case could be worth. Contact us today at (941) 444-4444.