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Whiplash Insurance Coverage: Who Pays What?

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July 18, 2018 Firm News

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If you have symptoms of a whiplash injury after an accident, you need to understand whiplash insurance coverage

As we discussed in last week’s blog, whiplash is not a medical condition. However, it can cause a number of other complications that range from mild to severe, and understanding whiplash insurance coverage helps you access the best treatment for your injuries.

How much will insurance cover?

According to All Law, typical settlement values in whiplash cases vary according to the severity of the injury and the treatment required:

“Settlement values or trial verdicts for whiplash vary greatly, but most cases or mild to moderate whiplash will be valued between $2,500 and $10,000. More serious cases involving treatment (typically physical therapy) over several months may cost the defendant upwards of $30,000. Neck injuries beyond soft-tissue damage, affecting the nerves or vertebrae, can easily wind up with settlements or verdicts exceeding $100,000.”

That site also offers an important observation:

“Though often written off as nuisance claims, whiplash injuries are actually very serious medical injuries, depending on the extent of the over extension of the soft tissues and ligaments in the neck. The cervical region is integral for appropriate mobility and physical comfort, and any significant alteration or damage to this region in a victim does pose potentially lifelong complications affecting their physical ability to move and live free of pain. Like other soft tissue injuries, though, whiplash is hard to document in medical records (it doesn’t show up on x-rays or other diagnostic tools) making the claims process a little more difficult.”

Anyone who has experienced moderate to severe effects from whiplash knows the importance of quality medical treatment. Unfortunately, some insurance companies downplay the severity of these injuries and try to lowball coverage on whiplash claims. In those instances, working with a skilled personal injury attorney can help you uncover and receive the insurance coverage you need for recovery.

Who pays what in a whiplash case?

According to Alliance Insurance, whiplash cases number in the billions in terms of payouts by insurance companies:

“For such a small body part, neck strain can be an expensive and painful injury. Insurers spend $2.7 billion on average annually on whiplash injuries, and the average claim payout is just over $9K.”

In some cases, multiple insurance policies will kick in to help cover those claims. Those policies can include:

– Bodily Injury Policy. In the case of a car accident, primary insurance coverage for whiplash will come from the driver’s bodily injury policy. Colorado requires at least $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person. However, many drivers will carry a policy with higher limits.

– Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage. If you are injured by a driver who carries no insurance, or whose policy limits don’t cover the extent of damages, your own UM/UIM insurance might kick in to help cover your medical and other expenses.

– Med Pay. In Colorado, auto insurers automatically offer drivers $5,000 in medical payments coverage (known as med pay). This insurance follows you, the policyholder, whether you are driving your vehicle, a friend’s vehicle or riding public transportation. It can help cover ER visits, ambulance fees and more and often supplements your health insurance coverage. Learn more about Med Pay here. Your personal injury attorney can also help evaluate if Med Pay will apply in your case.

– Worker’s Compensation Policy. If you are injured by another party who is on the job at the time (e.g. a truck driver or delivery van driver), his or her worker’s compensation insurance might also cover some of your personal injury expenses. Nolo explains some of the ins and outs of worker’s comp claims, and your personal injury attorney can also help you better understand this coverage.

Whether your whiplash injuries are mild or severe, you likely will need some medical treatment. Understand your rights and work with a skilled personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive the full settlement amount you deserve from all applicable insurance policies.

If you have injuries from whiplash, contact us for a free case evaluation.