If you suffered a whiplash injury in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you are likely wondering, Can I sue for whiplash in a car accident? Suing for whiplash in Virginia can be complicated, but it’s not impossible to recover compensation provided you can prove the other driver is at fault.
What Is Whiplash?
Occupants in a motor vehicle can suffer a whiplash injury when the neck is subjected to a sudden back-and-forth movement. This sudden movement can cause damage to the muscles, ligaments, and nerves in the neck, resulting in pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
Symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately after the accident. It can take several hours or even days to develop. Common whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness,
- Blurred vision,
- Numbness or tingling in the arms,
- Difficulty sleeping, and
If you were involved in a car accident and experienced any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. If someone else is responsible for your injuries, please get in touch with a lawyer who can help you pursue a claim for compensation.
Most Common Accident Types That Cause Whiplash
Rear-end collisions are the most common type of accident that leads to a whiplash injury. That’s because the impact force causes your head and neck to be thrown forward and snap back. While it’s the most common car accident type that leads to a whiplash injury, it’s not the only one. Other types of accidents, such as head-on collisions and sideswipe accidents, can also lead to whiplash injuries.
Can You Sue for Whiplash?
You can file a lawsuit for whiplash, but you won’t collect any compensation unless you prove the other party was 100% responsible for your injuries. That’s because Virginia is a contributory negligence state. That means you cannot recover any damages if you are even 1% at fault for the accident.
Contributory negligence makes it hard to sue for whiplash, but it’s not impossible. The other driver’s insurance company will undoubtedly try to place part of the blame onto you so you cannot collect any compensation. You must have solid evidence for a whiplash claim.
Types of Evidence Needed to Prove a Whiplash Claim
To successfully prove a whiplash claim, you must present evidence that demonstrates the other party was at fault. Some of the most common types of evidence include:
- Police report,
- Witness statements,
- Scene photographs, and
- Expert witness testimony.
If you cannot succeed in a liability argument, you won’t be able to collect any money. Once you’re over the liability hurdle, you must prove your damages. Evidence you need to prove liability can also help establish damages. In addition to the items mentioned above, you can use the following:
- Medical records,
- Medical bills,
- Lost time from work,
- Property damage repair estimate,
- Personal property damage or loss receipts, and
- Invoices for medical equipment.
When you hire The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, to represent you, we’ll help gather and preserve all evidence supporting your whiplash claim.
Calculating Damages in a Whiplash Claim
Damages can be divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are your verifiable losses that can be calculated, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Your non-economic damages are more subjective. These damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. You must show how the accident impacted your life and daily activities to maximize your potential compensation.
How Do You Sue for Whiplash?
Suing for whiplash involves filing a lawsuit. However, you won’t start by filing a lawsuit unless the statute of limitations is already close to expiring. The object is to investigate and negotiate a settlement before expending costs and times to file a lawsuit. Nevertheless, in most situations, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the accident date.
Generally, the process will begin with you making a demand for damages against the at-fault party. Should the party’s insurance company deny liability or damages, your attorney will immediately file a lawsuit on your behalf. Once the defendant files a response to your lawsuit, you’ll participate in discovery, which allows you to collect additional evidence.
Litigation Process for a Whiplash Claim
The litigation process is very similar to pre-litigation negotiations, except now there are court appearances and other rules both attorneys must follow. Each side uses this time to gather evidence of liability and damages. If the other side denies liability, your attorney will likely suggest hiring an accident reconstructionist. This expert will use scientific means to recreate the accident and determine who is at fault.
As the case progresses, your attorney will continue with negotiations. The defendant’s insurance company might finally agree to settle depending on the accident reconstructionist’s findings. If the expert is persuasive and has presented opinions in your favor, the other driver’s insurance company might finally agree to settle rather than risk the expert testifying at trial.
If the insurance company still refuses to negotiate, the result might be setting a trial date. Most cases resolve before trial, but it’s not a guarantee. Your lawyer will continue to prepare the case for trial until the defendant is willing to pay your settlement demand. The trial process can be lengthy and complicated, but our experienced lawyers will help guide you every step of the way.
Both sides will present evidence to the jury during the trial to show the other side was at fault. The defendant’s lawyer will also likely downplay your damages. Because whiplash injuries are subjective and not visible in diagnostic tests, such as an x-ray, insurance companies will always argue that a whiplash injury isn’t worth much. The jury will deliberate and decide for you or the defendant. If you prevail, the jury will also return with how much money they believe you deserve.
Contact The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC Today
Negotiating a whiplash injury isn’t impossible, but it takes a seasoned attorney who knows how to win a liability argument. Insurance companies tend to think when they say you are at fault or partly at fault and deny your claim, you will accept that and go away.
At The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC, we will fight tirelessly to hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries. We have the skills and trial experience necessary to represent you. Our firm maintains the record for the largest trial verdict in Norfolk at $10.2 million. Please get in touch with our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. If you’re researching answers to questions like, Can I sue for whiplash in a car accident? our legal team stands ready to help.