This is one of the most important questions we get regarding car accident claims. The best way to answer it is to look at the different types of claims that are most common, because these determine how expensive medical treatment typically is and how a jury typically views the injury.
But first, we should address some common misconceptions about car accident claims:
- Insurers will not pay an outrageous sum of money just to avoid the cost of a trial. They will pay what you can prove is a fair amount, based on the severity of your injuries. (It is true, however, that if they think you would win at trial they are quicker to negotiate.)
- There is no formula to determine the amount you get paid. It isn’t double your medical bills, or triple. It’s different in each individual case.
- You do not have to go to trial to win your claim. Most claims (but not all) are settled out of court.
Likewise, you should remember that claims are usually worth more if they are handled by a lawyer. Trying to negotiate with the insurance company yourself, without a background in law, leaves you without the leverage and the wide toolkit of strategies that an experienced lawyer can bring.
With that in mind, we’ll look at several common types of claims: whiplash claims, soft tissue damage, and severe injuries.
How much should I receive for a whiplash claim?
Whiplash is a very real injury and can be painful. Thankfully most whiplash cases are minor and easy to treat. Accordingly, the value of a claim relating to whiplash (without other conditions) is usually low—but enough to be worth your time. For example:
- A straightforward whiplash case with a doctor diagnosis and some chiropractic treatments may win $2,000-3,000 in addition to the cost of your medical bills.
- If the case required a dedicated orthopedist and physical therapy, you might win $4,000 or slightly more in addition to medical costs.
- If the whiplash requires an epidural or another more serious procedure, the total could be higher. The medical bills alone often go over $10,000 at this point, and you could be awarded $20,000 or more total. This higher amount is most likely if the accident itself was very severe, and if the jury finds you sympathetic.
How much should I receive for a soft tissue injury?
Soft tissue is a general term that refers to all the muscles, joint tissue, and other sensitive but important parts of the body. If it’s not a bone or an organ, chances are it’s soft tissue.
The reason this is an important category of car accident claims is because soft tissue injuries often aren’t visible. For example, a sprained wrist might hurt so bad you literally can’t sleep—but on the outside, there’s not even bruising. This is important because juries tend to have more sympathy, and award higher amounts, if an injury looks bad. Insurance companies know this and will try to offer you less money.
Because soft tissue injuries are such a wide category, the dollar amount they bring varies dramatically. Many spinal injuries are soft tissue injuries, for example, and they can be as minor as a tweak of pain when you bend over, or as serious as being paralyzed. But there are some general guidelines:
- If your injury responds well to physical therapy, and you recover within a few months, it’s likely worth less than $10,000 in addition to medical costs.
- If the injury requires injections or repeated treatment, it could easily max out a $25,000 policy.
- If the injury is going to be long-term, with years of pain, or if there will be permanent limits to your mobility, the verdict could be much larger. This is where you start to see verdicts of $50,000 or more, or in some cases, over $100,000.
What about a severe injury? How much would I receive for these claims?
Severe injuries include things like broken bones, severed limbs, and many head injuries. Any accident that caused organ damage or required surgery is also likely to be seen as a severe injury. There is no simple way to offer a best-guess value on these types of injuries. However:
- These types of injuries can bring substantial financial recoveries of $100,000 or more
- These claims can often include additional money for pain and suffering
- The value of these claims varies dramatically based on legal representation; you need to talk to a lawyer
The Easiest Way to Find Out What Your Claim is Worth
Personal injury lawyers typically offer a free meeting to discuss any potential car accident claim. Take advantage of it. It costs you nothing, and it could help you win thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.