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Never Hurry to Settle a Neck Injury Claim

— July 6, 2022

You should always wait until you reach the maximum medical improvement point and then give it a few more weeks to see how you feel.

San Diego, CA – Neck injuries are one of the most common types of injuries in a car accident, especially in a rear-end collision. In a high-speed collision, the rapid back and forth movement of the head can cause damage to various parts of the neck – ligaments, tendons, muscles, or vertebrae. If you are lucky, you may get away with a strained muscle, but severe damage to the spine can result in partial or total paralysis. 

Neck injuries often require lots of tests (X-rays, MRIs, CT-Scans, etc) to determine the exact problem, depending on which you may need not only bed rest but also physical therapy, rehabilitation programs, or surgery. All these cost a lot of money and accident victims are under enormous pressure to find a way to pay their mounting bills. Accepting a quick settlement from the insurance company may seem like the ideal solution, but it can be a mistake with terrible financial consequences. Before you even think of accepting the settlement, talk to a good San Diego neck injury lawyer to understand what your claim is worth and what’s at stake.

Why do lawyers insist on achieving the maximum medical improvement point?

First of all, what is this maximum medical improvement point? Basically, it’s the moment when your doctors tell you this is as good as it gets. After maybe months of treatment, the doctors come to a point when there’s nothing more they can do – you’re either fully recovered or you will be left with a range of symptoms or an impairment that will plague you for the rest of your life.

This is when you should be considering a settlement as at that point you know where you stand.

Let’s consider, for instance, a non-life-threatening injury like a herniated disc. Your doctors will prescribe pain medication, cortisone injections, neuropathic drugs, and even opioids. They may also recommend physical therapy and they’ll assure you that you’ll be back on your feet in six weeks, two months at most. If you take them up on their word and accept a settlement based on your current medical expenses, what happens if at the end of two months you’re still in excruciating pain and you have a limited range of motion? At this point, the doctors may tell you that the only solution is surgery to remove the protruding part of the disc and a bone graft. It sounds scary, but the bill will be even scarier, and who’s going to pay for that? Not the insurance company since you’ve already settled the claim.

This is why you should always wait until you reach the maximum medical improvement point and then give it a few more weeks to see how you feel.

What kind of damages can you claim for a neck injury?

Professional massage therapist treating woman's injured neck; image by Karolina Grabowska, via
Professional massage therapist treating woman’s injured neck; image by Karolina Grabowska, via

With a severe injury, you must first worry about medical expenses, which fall under economic damages. Your California personal injury lawyers will keep track of all your hospital bills, as well as the costs of your medication, home care, and home alterations if required. 

Lost wages also fall under economic damages, but again you’ll have to consider the future, not only the money you’ve lost up to the moment you make your claim. Maybe you’ll need more time off work or, in severe cases, maybe you won’t be able to return to work at all. Your lawyers will calculate the value of your lost earnings and include that money in your claim.

When you sustain a serious injury that causes a lot of pain and limitations, you are entitled to seek non-economic damages as well. You’ll need seasoned lawyers to put a price on something intangible like physical pain and mental suffering, for which you cannot present any bills. 

Keep in mind that, in California, there is no cap on non-economic damages resulting from car, truck, motorcycle, or boat accidents. The only exception refers to personal injury claims concerning medical malpractice. In such cases, non-economic damages are capped at $250,000.

Bottom line, if you have an experienced personal injury lawyer they can get you a considerable sum in non-economic damages. If you don’t, you may be shocked to hear the insurance adjuster saying your pain is barely worth a few thousand dollars or even accusing you of faking it.  

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