In Arizona, over 29% of the car crashes in 2022 resulted in injuries, as reported by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Whiplash is a common injury in car accidents due to the abrupt, unexpected impact. Unfortunately, the pain and damages associated with a case of whiplash can cause significant disruption to your daily life, making it important to seek appropriate compensation to help you cope with the potential medical expenses, lost time at work, and general pain and suffering.
An individual’s ability to sue for an injury in Arizona will be determined by fault, injuries, and damages incurred. A skilled personal injury attorney in Phoenix will be able to help you determine if you have the ability to sue for your whiplash injuries and maximize your chances of receiving appropriate compensation.
Whiplash Injuries from Car Accidents
Whiplash is a neck injury that stems from a highly forceful and rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. It commonly occurs in car accidents because the fast lurching from the impact causes an individual’s neck to whip forward and backward so quickly that it can cause serious damage. Whiplash commonly affects muscles, ligaments, joints, vertebrae, and discs in the neck. Some common signs that a person has suffered whiplash, include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Upper or lower back pain and discomfort
- Shoulder pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Numbness in extremities
- Memory issues
It is always encouraged that individuals are seen by licensed medical professionals after an accident to ensure that they are well and remedy any injuries. Even if you don’t feel pain immediately, it’s a good idea to seek care in case you’ve experienced an underlying injury that isn’t instantly noticeable.
Keep Records of the Accident and Your Injuries
In car accident lawsuits, documentation of the accident and injuries will be the best proof you can provide.
If you are able, be sure to take photos of the accident and the damage done to both vehicles. Call your insurance agent after you have been seen by medical professionals to explain the details of your accident.
It is important to note that it is not recommended to speak with the other party’s insurance agent after an accident. Their agenda is to find any possible details that will prove their client is not at fault. Your insurance can relay the details given to them, and your attorney can speak with the other party’s insurance on your behalf.
Medical records will be extremely important if you choose to sue for damages for your whiplash injury. Without medical proof that an injury actually occurred and needs remedy, then you do not have a case.
A key challenge with addressing and understanding whiplash is that the symptoms can take some time to surface. Right after the accident, drivers may feel fine, but they should still be checked out by a medical professional. Just because you feel good does not necessarily mean you were not injured—the adrenaline and shock of an accident can mask injuries and symptoms of injuries.
Damages are used to compensate the victim who was harmed by another’s wrong-doing or negligent act. In whiplash cases, damages are broken down into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages will cover any tangible costs associated with the accident and the bills corresponding to the effects of the accident. Economic damages granted in a whiplash case can include:
- Medical Expenses – This amount is based on past bills and future projections of medical attention needed
- Lost wages – If the accident caused the injured individual to miss work, they can receive compensation for any past missed work and any future work they will miss because of the accident
- Lost earning capacity – If the accident injures the person in a way that diminishes their ability to make the same amount of money, damages may be awarded for future loss of earnings (e.g. if a surgeon loses mobility in his hand due to a car accident)
Medical invoices will help you prove exactly how much the accident has cost you, monetarily. Be sure to keep all invoices from doctors, chiropractors, pharmacies, auto shops, or any other receipts given for the effects of the accident. This will help the jury calculate the economic damages easily.
Past pay stubs will be used to determine lost wages and lost earning capacity. If a party is unable to provide these documents, it will be extremely difficult to prove the exact amount of damage incurred. Keeping records and all documents related to the accident will be critical to the success of the case.
Non-economic damages are those that do not have a specific monetary value associated with them but still cause a disruption to your daily life. Non-economic damages cover the intangible damages that do not have invoices to quantify the value, such as the pain and suffering associated with the injury.
Other non-economic damages granted in a whiplash case can include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (loss of spousal companionship and services)
Because there are no bills involved with the non-economic effects of an accident, it can be difficult to prove exact damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can be extremely beneficial in these situations—they can help convert the loss of such abilities or time into an acceptable monetary value to help you recover properly.
Suing for Whiplash
Car accident lawsuits vary depending on how your state laws are set up to govern this area of law. To successfully sue a driver for whiplash, you must prove that their negligent driving directly caused the injury. Medical records will prove the legitimacy of your injuries, but you and your attorney will need to prove negligence.
Proving negligence and fault is not always a simple task. Reports from the insurance companies, police, and personal statements/witnesses can be utilized to prove fault and negligence in a whiplash case. To successfully sue for whiplash, follow the below steps immediately after your accident:
- Seek medical attention
- Speak to your insurance company (do NOT speak to the other side’s insurance company, your attorney can do so for you)
- Take photos of the accident and damage
- Consult a personal injury attorney (from this point, your attorney will handle most details regarding the case)
- File a claim for damages
- Review offer letter
- Accept the offer or reject and take the case to trial
- Trial by jury
- Damages awarded or denied
Statute of Limitations for Whiplash Injuries
Generally, in Arizona, the personal injury statute of limitations for seeking restitution or financial compensation is two years from the date of the accident or incident. However, some states, like Arizona, will extend the statute of limitations if the victim doesn’t realize they’ve been injured until a later time.
For example, if someone feels normal on the day of the accident, but then starts to feel sore and in pain within the days after, the statute of limitations will begin at the time that the injury was discovered. The injured party will have from the time of discovery until the same two years after that time to prepare your case.
The statute of limitations applies to any form of legal action you take to pursue financial restitution. If you believe that you have a case for a personal injury claim for whiplash, you should consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that your case falls within the statute of limitations, especially because it can be a lengthy process to pursue legal action while also recovering from your injuries.
Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury cases are becoming seemingly more common, but that does not mean they are becoming any less complicated to navigate. Proving negligence and damages can be a complicated and burdensome process—having an attorney you trust on your side can make all the difference.
At JacksonWhite, our team of personal injury attorneys is here to support you in getting the results you deserve. Our personal injury attorneys will handle the court filings, manage correspondence with insurance companies and the opposing party, and do everything in their power to help you receive appropriate compensation as you navigate your road to recovery
If you’ve experienced a neck injury after a car accident in Arizona, call our Personal Injury team at (480) 378-8802 to discuss your case today.