Whiplash is one of the most common types of injuries you can get from car accidents, especially rear end collisions. Unfortunately, they are also one of the worst compensated types of injuries. Because whiplash is very difficult to prove, juries tend to award very low amounts for claims. Victims often feel cheated because the pain and suffering can be great in comparison to the settlement they receive. However, unless someone on the jury has personally experienced whiplash, usually it is difficult for a jury to understand how severe whiplash can really be.
Burden of Proof For Whiplash
A jury needs reasonable proof that an injury deserves compensation. Many personal injury firms will reject whiplash cases, because settlements tend to cap out at about $15,000 (and often are not much more than several hundred dollars), and because they can be very difficult to prove in court.
Traditional methods to show proof of injuries often do not work in whiplash cases. X-rays, for example, will be useless in showing damage, because whiplash only damages internal soft tissue. By having an x-ray done, whiplash victims can sometimes hurt their own case, because when shown to a jury, damage is not visible. The real injury to the soft tissue cannot be demonstrated in an x-ray or other visual medium.
Another way that victims tend to lower their settlements unintentionally is by going for treatment at a chiropractor. Insurance carriers will start by offering a lower settlement if the victim has visited a chiropractor instead of an orthopedist or another doctor, because they know that chiropractors are valued less in court. Although chiropractors may be appreciated by many people, some people do not trust a chiropractor’s opinion as much as they would a doctor’s opinion. This may seem unfair, but jurors will be affected by their own preconceived opinions. If there is one juror who thinks that chiropractic services are pseudoscience, a victim can lose all chance of being awarded a settlement.
The only way to effectively sway a jury to take a whiplash claim seriously is through objective evidence. Several weeks of prescribed physical therapy or prescribed medication from a medical doctor and other evidence such as hospital visits that tend to support a significant injury will go much farther than subjective claims of pain. Another common way juries are convinced of whiplash injuries is if the defendant seems less trustworthy than the victim. For example, if the accident was caused by the defendant’s use of illegal drugs or if the defendant had been drinking and driving, juries tend to be more sympathetic towards the victim. However, it is still important to support any claims of whiplash with further objective proof of injury.
Contact Us if You Have Been Injured by Whiplash
Unfortunately, many whiplash claims do not get the compensation that they deserve because victims do not build a sufficient case. At Van Sant Law, LLC, we want every victim to get quick, fair compensation. Contact us right away to get a free consultation and let us start building the objective case that will help you recover the money you need to mend.