If you do some looking online, you will find various sites that provide “average” settlement amounts for whiplash. These averages seem to range anywhere from $2,500 to $100,000 or more. While the true average may or may not ultimately fall somewhere in this range, the reality is that the average settlement amount for whiplash doesn’t matter.
What does matter is how much you are entitled to recover for your whiplash injury. This figure is entirely dependent on the circumstances of your particular case. As a result, while average settlement amounts can give you a ballpark (although a range of $2,500 to $100,000 isn’t much help), they are irrelevant when it comes to calculating damages in your car accident claim.
What Factors Influence Settlement Amounts for Whiplash?
If average settlement amounts don’t matter, then what does? There are numerous factors that go into determining how much you can collect for whiplash following a vehicle collision, fall, or other accident. This includes factors such as:
- Who was at fault? If you suffered whiplash in an auto accident, then you can seek coverage under your auto insurance policy regardless of fault. However, in order to seek coverage under the other driver’s policy (or to pursue a liability claim in any other circumstance), you must be able to prove that someone else is at fault for causing your injury. If you were partially at fault, then the amount of your settlement could be reduced under New York’s pure comparative fault law.
- What is the extent of your injury? Whiplash can have a variety of effects, and some accident victims will experience long-term complications. The extent of your injury is an important factor for determining how much you are entitled to recover.
- Do you have a pre-existing condition? If you have a pre-existing condition, this could reduce the amount of your settlement as well. You are still entitled to compensation, but the insurance companies may limit coverage for any costs that are unrelated to your accident.
- How much are your medical bills? The costs of medical care vary widely across the United States—and even in different regions of New York. The amount you can recover for your treatment is based on the actual costs you have incurred and are reasonably likely to incur in the future.
- How much do you make? If you are unable to work for any length of time as a result of your whiplash injury, your compensation award should include coverage for your lost income. The more you make (and the longer you are out of work), the more you will be entitled to recover.
- How else has your whiplash impacted your life? In addition to compensation for your medical bills and lost earnings, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and various other consequences of your injury. These impacts are entirely personal, and your compensation for these “non-financial losses” could account for the majority of your settlement.
In addition to these factors, there are some practical considerations that can impact the amount of your settlement as well. These practical considerations include:
- How much insurance coverage is available? In some cases, settlement amounts are effectively capped by the available insurance coverage. Even if your losses are $200,000, if only $100,000 in insurance coverage is available, then this might be the maximum amount you can recover. However, there are exceptions, and you should not automatically assume that your financial recovery will be limited to the available insurance coverage.
- Do you have a personal injury lawyer? When talking about average settlement amounts, the averages should really be broken into two categories: (i) settlements that accident victims obtain on their own, and (ii) settlements that accident victims obtain with the help of an attorney. By conducting an investigation, accurately calculating your losses, and using his or her experience to negotiate on your behalf, an attorney can help you recover significantly more than you could recover on your own under almost all circumstances.
Not All Whiplash Claims Settle
Finally, it is important to remember that not all whiplash claims settle. In order to convince an insurance company to make a fair settlement offer, you must clearly prove your right to just compensation. Even then, the insurance company may still decide to take its chances in court.
If you do receive a settlement offer, you will need to evaluate the offer carefully—and not simply accept the offer because it falls in some “average” settlement range. You may be entitled to far more, and you will need to rely on an experienced personal injury lawyer’s advice in order to make an informed decision.
Call a Kingston Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Have you been diagnosed with whiplash as the result of an accident? To find out how much you may be able to recover, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in Kingston.
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Call (845) 303-8777 or tell us about your accident online now. O’Connor & Partners, PLLC serves clients in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other areas in New York.