Whiplash! Do I Need an Attorney?

When you hear the word, “whiplash,” it brings to mind many different thoughts: motor vehicle collision (MVC), neck pain, headaches, concussion, jaw pain, litigation, car damage estimates, possibly needing a new car, medical costs, doctor’s appointments, sleepless nights, and more. Questions typically asked when a MVC occurs include the following: 1. Do I need to get an attorney? 2. What can I expect for recovery time from my neck pain? 3. Why is it taking so long to get my car fixed? 4. Should I talk to the insurance company when they call? 5. I have to give a deposition next week. What is that? 6. My case didn’t settle and we’re going to court. How do I prepare for that? 7. The insurance company is offering $XXXX.XX for a settlement. What do you think my problems will be down the road?

Let’s take a look at these!

  1. Should you obtain the services of an attorney? If you want to significantly reduce your stress when it comes time to negotiating with the insurance company, especially towards the end of the process, then YES! Needless to say, you will likely need to seek council if you plan to not settle and need to go to court. However, you do not have to get an attorney immediately unless you just don’t want to deal with the insurance company at all. Typically, it’s worth having an attorney as they are experienced in “…the process.”
  2. Recovery from neck pain can vary between a simple strain at 2-6 weeks to a herniated disk that may require surgery.
  3. The insurance company may delay the payment of the car repair costs for a number of reasons. Until the insurance company inspects the car’s damages, they will not authorize the repair shop work, which can take weeks!
  4. If you have hired an attorney, he/she will communicate for you. If not, it is appropriate for you to communicate with the insurance company. The important thing is to NOT settle the claim until you’re sure you can do all of your pre-MVC activities without difficulty or pain, which can take a full year or more.
  5. These are called “discovery depositions” where you will be asked questions about the accident such as, where you hurt, what you can and can’t do since the MVC, what tests and treatment you’ve received and what the results were, etc. Your attorney will tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The deposition “process” is quite easy and there is no reason to feel intimidated. Most attorneys are very courteous and will treat you kindly so don’t worry unnecessarily!
  6. Preparing for court is similar except you can’t ask questions – they ask & you answer! Your attorney will tell you to answer only the question being asked and your attorney will later be able to ask you to clarify what was “left out.” Always be kind, courteous, and NEVER let the other attorney get you angry!
  7. See #2 above. If you have ongoing radiating pain in your arm (from your neck) or leg (from your low back), the “prognosis” for complete recovery is less favorable. Similarly, if you have ligament damage in your neck, there will probably be an accelerated pace of arthritis formation that may not bother you much for 5-10 years or longer but may later in life. Your doctor of chiropractic, as your expert witness, will describe your “impairment” and bring this to the jury’s attention.