The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 272,464 whiplash injuries occur annually. The greatest risk for whiplash injuries occur during rear-end auto collisions. These injuries cost the U.S. approximately $2.7 billion annually. Because every injury is unique, there is no way to calculate the average whiplash settlement in California. Online calculators do not work and will likely undervalue your claim.
The only way to determine the value of your accident is to consider the specific circumstances of your injury. For example, older people and those with conditions such as arthritis are more at risk of severe whiplash. Also, drivers of older cars are more likely to experience whiplash than those in newer cars with more safety features.
The law requires the person at fault in an accident to pay for the damages they cause, including medical costs and property damage. If it is clear which driver caused the accident, you can file a claim with their insurance company. The insurance adjuster will contact you and offer you a settlement amount to cover your damage. However, it is not always so simple. Often multiple drivers share fault, or the insurance company disagrees that the insured was 100% at fault. Even if they agree that their insured was at fault, they may offer you a lowball settlement. In these cases, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you negotiate a fair whiplash and car accident settlement amount.
What Do I Need To Receive a Whiplash Injury Settlement in California?
For a whiplash settlement in California, you need to show that the other driver caused the accident and the extent of your injuries. Whiplash injuries can occur even at speeds as low as 5 to 10 miles per hour. When another vehicle strikes your vehicle, your seat moves against your body, forcing your spine to straighten and your head to rise. As the seat forces your torso in one direction, your head will lag behind. Your neck will form an s-shape and then bend backward. Finally, your head will snap forward to meet the rest of your body. The neck moves like a whip’s lash, injuring bones in the spine, disks between the bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and other tissues of the neck.
Sometimes whiplash symptoms appear immediately, but they often occur days or weeks after the accident. The signs and symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain that worsens with neck movement;
- Loss of range of motion in the neck;
- Headaches, often starting at the base of the skull;
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back, or arms;
- Arm tingling or numbness;
- Fatigue; and
In many cases, whiplash pain will go away on its own after a few weeks. But you should not wait to seek medical care. Resting can cause the muscles in the neck to stiffen and prolong the pain. The costs of medical treatment are included in the average settlement for whiplash.
What Are Typical Whiplash Lawsuit or Settlement Amounts?
Whiplash compensation payouts typically cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. After the accident, you may need a physical examination, x-rays, CT scans, or an MRI. If you have ongoing pain, a doctor may prescribe pain medication or physical therapy. The average settlement for whiplash should reimburse you for these expenses. For property damage, the policy should cover either the amount to repair your vehicle or the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV). ACV means the dollar amount that a prospective, uncoerced buyer and seller are willing to pay.
California law requires all drivers to have minimum insurance coverage limits of 15/30/5. This means that an auto policy must cover up to $15,000 for one person’s injuries. If two or more people are injured, insurance must cover up to a total of $30,000. The policy must cover at least $5,000 in property damage. These are the minimum requirements, but drivers may purchase more coverage. Considering that the average cost of whiplash injuries was $9,994 in 2002, the $15,000 limit may not cover all your medical expenses.
If your claims exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, your best option is to file a lawsuit. Amounts from a lawsuit may be higher than what you receive in a settlement.
Can I Receive a Whiplash Settlement in California If I Am at Fault for the Accident?
You can still receive compensation from another driver if your own actions were a substantial factor in causing the accident. When recovering damages after a crash, California recognizes the legal doctrine of pure comparative fault. Pure comparative fault means that you can still receive compensation even if you were 99% at fault for an accident. Your responsibility is not a bar to recovery.
First, the police, the insurance companies, or the courts will determine your percentage of responsibility for the accident. Then, they will reduce the amount the other party owes you by your percentage of responsibility. If they find you are 51% at fault for the accident, the other party will pay 49% of your damages from the accident. It’s important to remember that while you can still recover damages, your insurance rate may go up if your insurance company determines you are 50% or more responsible for the crash.
Saeedian Law Group: Compassionate and Experienced Attorneys
Our attorneys understand that you may feel scared, confused, or helpless after an auto accident. You may experience ongoing pain, even as the medical bills pile up and you are not able to work. While it doesn’t take much to get the average whiplash settlement in California, our firm has the experience to negotiate with large insurance companies.
Our record shows that we aren’t afraid to press insurance companies to pay up to policy limits. In one case, the insurance company offered our client $12,000. We secured the client a payout of $1 million. Contact Saeedian Law Group for a free consultation, and you’ll receive personalized attention from an award-winning lawyer. In every case, we commit to winning the maximum compensation you deserve so you can focus on recovery. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay until we win.