Any whiplash injury claim must be thoroughly documented in order to be successful. This entails visiting a doctor who documents the symptoms as well as the treatment. This can also include hiring an attorney to ensure proper procedures and documentation is followed. Receipts pertaining to the treatment, work documentation regarding lost days and wages and a diary documenting the specific discomforts and pain endured during treatment (and sometimes after treatment), should also be included as part of the claim file.
Step #1: Visiting the Doctor
Sometimes the pain resulting from a whiplash sustained in a car accident does not manifest itself until a few days after the actual event. This is because the body was in shock and releasing chemicals to “prevent” the sensation of pain. This does not mean there was no injury from the beginning, only that it could not be felt.
As soon as the pain begins or even on the day of the accident, the claimant should visit their doctor. The doctor should perform a thorough examination of the body, especially the neck area, carefully and meticulously recording all observations. If a whiplash has been sustained, the doctor will usually prescribe a muscle relaxant, some painkillers and a neck collar. The neck collar supports the head since the neck muscles can be so injured they are unable to do the job themselves. The claimant should follow the advice of the doctor to the letter to ensure full compensation. If the claimant deviates from the doctor’s advice, it can reduce the amount of the compensation.
Step #2: Visit an Attorney
Hiring an attorney to document and advise the claimant can insure following the correct procedures for any claims. This would include filing a police report, an accident report with the Department of Motor Vehicles and a lawsuit. The attorney should be experienced in personal injury, auto accident cases. They will provide specialized doctors to examine the accident victim who will document the injuries thoroughly. They would also advise against answering any questions or speaking to any insurance representative or opposing attorneys. This person will actually become the accident victim’s spokesperson, meaning all contact with the accident victim will be through them. This will prevent any information or admissions of the accident victim being used against them and their case in court. Most of the time the insurance companies offer minimal payments quickly in the hopes of reducing their losses. These offers do not necessarily properly reflect true losses sustained by the accident victim.
Step #3: Medical Receipts
The claimant should keep all receipts regarding treatment of the whiplash. This would include receipts for any doctor’s visits, medications, medical equipment (crutches, whiplash collar, etc.) and co-payments. This will provide documentation as to the severity of the injury.
Step #4: Lost Wages
The claimant should document all time taken off from their place of employment. This shows the severity of the injuries sustained. This also helps in calculating the monetary amount received for pain and suffering. Usually pain and suffering is calculated as to three times the loss incurred after the accident. In other words, if the claimant lost $3,000 in wages and incurred $5,000 in medical expenses, they can receive at least $24,000 ($3,000 + $5,000 = $8,000 x 3) in pain and suffering.
Step #5: Keep a Diary
Keeping a diary and documenting all pertinent information will also “prove” the amount asked for pain and suffering. The diary should reflect any actions taken to alleviate the pain (doctor visits, amount of medications and times taken per day) and any occurrences of pain (unable to walk to the car, needed help to visit the bathroom, etc.). These events will factor in the amount of compensation.
It is best to receive medical attention and legal advice as soon as possible after any accident to ensure proper procedures are followed for any claim. Documentation will provide the proof needed in making any such claims.