In Arizona, over 30% of the car crashes in 2016 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. 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.
Whiplash Injuries from Car Accidents
Whiplash 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.
Keep Records of the Accident and Your Injuries
In car accident law suits, 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 on both vehicle. Call you insurance agent after you have been seen to 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. The difficult part with 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 that 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 literal costs associated with the accident and the bills corresponding to the effects of the accident. Non-economic damages cover the intangible damages that do not have invoices to quantitate the value. Pain and suffering are covered by non-economic damages. 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 earning (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 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 granted in a whiplash case can include:
- Pain and Suffering
- 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 in to an acceptable monetary value for you to recover properly.
Suing for Whiplash
Car accident law suits 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. This 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 offer or reject and take the case to trial
- Trial by jury
- Damages rewarded or denied
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. Your attorney will handle the court filings, correspondence with insurance companies and the opposing party, and do everything in their power to get you healthy and receive the compensation you deserve.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.