What You Need to Know Before Filing A Claim For Whiplash
Car accidents happen with alarming regularity throughout North Carolina, and are often the result of reckless or negligent behaviors on the part of other drivers. Even a seemingly minor crash or collision can leave you with injuries that have the potential to jeopardize your health and wellbeing.
Whiplash is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. Many victims are unsure how to go about filing a whiplash injury claim. At Hardison & Cochran, our North Carolina car accident injury attorneys have gathered the following information to help you understand what whiplash is, the impacts it can have on your health, and how to go about seeking the compensation you need to recover from the injury.
Do You Have Whiplash?
Whiplash involves neck strains and sprains that occur when a motorist’s head is jerked backward or forward by the impact of a collision. As many as 800,000 drivers and passengers sustain whiplash injuries each year. Whiplash injuries represent as many as a third of insurance injury claims, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports. In addition to injuring the neck muscles and tendons, severe cases of whiplash may involve damage to discs, torn and ruptured ligaments, and fractures to the vertebrae that can result in permanent nerve damage.
Anytime you are involved in an accident, you should get medical attention to rule out potential injuries. The Mayo Clinic advises that symptoms of whiplash often take hours or even days to appear, while the effects may last months after your accident. Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain and stiffness that increases with movement;
- Loss of range of motion in the neck, head, or arms;
- Frequent headaches, fatigue, or dizziness;
- Tingling or numbness in the hands; and/or
- Pain and soreness in the shoulders, arms, and back.
In addition, delayed symptoms of serious whiplash injuries often involve ringing in the ears or blurred vision, problems with memory and concentration, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders, including anxiety and bouts of depression.
Filing an Insurance Claim for Whiplash
In North Carolina, drivers whose actions result in car crashes and injuries can be held legally liable for any harm they cause. The North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI) advises that, in the event of an accident, drivers should do the following:
- Pull your vehicle over to a safe place at or near the accident;
- Notify local law enforcement or the North Carolina State Highway Patrol;
- Get the other driver’s contact information, driver’s license number and vehicle registration number, and the name of their insurer and their policy number;
- Get medical attention immediately, even if you suspect your injuries are minor; and
- Notify your insurer as soon as possible to file a claim.
If another driver is responsible for the accident, you will need to contact their insurer. An insurance company claims representative will be assigned to your case, and will want you to make a statement giving your version of events. It is important to realize that insurance companies have a financial motive for undervaluing or denying your claim. Before making any statement to an insurance adjuster or signing any documents, you should speak with an experienced car accident injury attorney.
Whiplash Personal Injury Claims
To get compensation through a whiplash personal injury claim, you will need to provide the following:
- Medical records documenting your injuries: These may include emergency room, hospital, and doctor records outlining your symptoms, diagnostic testing results, treatments provided, and discharge instructions regarding follow-up care. You will want to collect any bills you have received, as well as receipts for prescription medications and over-the-counter medicine.
- Statements from your doctor and other medical providers: In addition to your medical records, you will need detailed statements from your doctor outlining the nature of your injury, your recommended treatment, and your prognosis for recovery. If your injury has resulted in permanent damage, you will need your doctor to outline the types of care you will likely require in the future.
Medical records and statements from providers can be used to show the current costs associated with your injury and the care you have required, as well as any future costs you are likely to incur. At Hardison & Cochran, our North Carolina car accident attorneys are experienced at negotiating with insurance companies. Our attorneys can help you determine the fair value of your claim and pursue a just settlement.
Waiting for Your Whiplash Injury Claim to Resolve
Whiplash insurance claims and investigations can take time to resolve, and the actions you take during this time could have potentially negative effects on your case. It is important to keep follow-up appointments with your medical provider, while following all recommendations regarding treatments and activity restrictions.
Our injury attorneys also suggest you temporarily suspend any social media accounts while your whiplash personal injury claim is being negotiated. A Journal News report indicates that comments, posts, and photos made on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are often used by insurance companies as evidence to avoid paying compensation to injury victims. The ways in which social media activity may be used include:
- Using posts that prove you engage in reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding, drinking and driving, or texting while behind the wheel, to deny claims;
- Using pictures and videos of you engaged in physical activity, such as doing yard work, exercising or taking an active vacation, to cast doubt on the extent of injuries you suffered. Social media activity may also be used to show that you are not following the doctor’s recommendation to avoid strenuous activity.
Reach Out to Us for Help
If you or someone you care about has sustained a whiplash injury in a car accident caused by another motorist, contact Hardison & Cochran today.
Our experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys provide compassionate guidance to injury victims and professional legal representation. We serve clients in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Wilmington, and the surrounding North Carolina area. Call or contact us online today for a free consultation.