Shoulder and neck problems after rear end car accident...

by Susie

I was in a car accident three weeks ago, on a Monday. I was rear ended while sitting at a stop sign. The driver started to take off after I was hit, but the police came and gave him a ticket. An ambulance arrived at the scene and I was "looked over". At the time of the accident, I did not have much pain. I think I was in more shock than anything.

About an hour after the accident I went home and developed a migraine headache. I went to the ER and had an MRI done on my neck and shoulders. Of course they told me I had soft tissue damage and whiplash.

That Friday after the accident I called the local chiropractor and immediately got in. By Friday I was barely able to move. I have been in "therapy" with the chiropractor for now three weeks and making some progress, but I was told I will be in therapy at least a couple more weeks.

I feel I am going to be having problems with my left shoulder (where my seatbelt was) and neck for life. My question is: What is a fair amount to request to start for pain and suffering in a compensation claim? The damage to my car is $900 external but they are detecting internal damage as well. What do I need to know here? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Shoulder and neck problems after rear end car accident...":

Susie (Illinois):

Soft tissue injuries often include strains and sprains to muscles, tendons, and ligaments, superficial cuts, abrasions and bruises, persistent soreness, whiplash, 1st degree burns, and similar minor injuries. Soft tissue injuries, while painful, aren't as serious as hard injuries. Hard injuries often include fractures, deep gashes requiring stitches, 3rd degree burns, head trauma, and the like.

A basic formula for calculating appropriate personal injury compensation for hard injuries is using a multiple of 3-5 times medical bills (and higher). Soft injury multiples are normally in the range of 1.5-2 times medical bills. The multiple is meant to cover the cost of pain and suffering.

Here's an example:

Let's say Alex was the victim of a rear-end collision. Alex sustained soft tissue injuries to his shoulder and neck. His total medical and therapy bills amounted to $10,000.

Alex was able negotiate a settlement of $20,000. As a result of the injury, Alex missed 3 weeks of work representing $1800.00 in lost wages. Alex's medications, neck collar, and prorated costs of gasoline used driving to and from treatment amounted to $500.

Here's the breakdown of the settlement offer:

Settlement = $20,000

Medical and therapy bills = $10,000
Out-of-pocket expenses = $300
Lost wages = $1800
Total = $12,100

20,000 - $12,100 = $7,900

The amount of $7,900 represents compensation for Alex's pain and suffering.

While the multiplier effect can be relatively accurate, insurance companies often rely on computer programs to come up with settlement offers. These programs include "Colossus," "Claims Outcome Advisor," "Claims IQ," and "Mitchell Decision Point."

Property damage is not included in the multiplier. Property damage settlement amounts are normally only for the costs of repair or replacement of the vehicle. In many cases, insurance companies use two separate claims adjusters; one for properly damage, and another for personal injury.

For more information, review the final steps to getting your settlement.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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