Whiplash is among the many injuries that can result from a car accident. The rapid back and forth movement of the body in a collision—especially one that is high-impact—can damage the vertebrae or tear muscles and tendons in your neck. Although most patients recover with treatment, some may continue to suffer from chronic pain and long-term complications. According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end accidents.
If your neck was injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer at Ben Crump Law, PLLC can help determine if you have a case. Call us today at (800) 598-7557 for a free consultation.
Your Right to Pursue Compensation
Because California uses an at-fault insurance system, injury victims must prove the other party’s liability in the accident to receive compensation. Negligence is the underlying legal theory for most auto accidents—in other words, the at-fault driver exhibited behavior that a prudent person would not do in similar circumstances. Distracted driving, speeding, and violating traffic laws are examples of negligent acts that do not demonstrate exercising a degree of caution. As such, they should hold responsibility for any collision-related injuries.
After establishing liability with collected evidence, the at-fault party and their insurance company will be asked to pay for the whiplash victim’s resulting damages. Remember that the burden of proof for liability and damages lies with the personal injury victim or their legal representative. A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer can help ensure that you gather appropriate proof, so you are able to seek the compensation you deserve.
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Damages Awarded in a Personal Injury Claim
The amount of compensation awarded to a personal injury victim will depend on the circumstances of their claim, including the severity of their injuries and the parties involved. A victim can seek two types of damages—economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those with monetary values, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses, including hospital bills and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Loss of employment, earning capacity, or business opportunities
- Vehicle repairs or replacement
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages, which do not have a set monetary value attached, may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, disfigurement, long-term disability, and more. California Proposition 213 prohibits those without auto insurance from recovering non-economic damages, even if the other driver was at fault for the accident.
A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer can help calculate a reasonable amount of compensation for your personal injury claim, so you do not accept an exceedingly low settlement offer. If you did not have auto insurance at the time of the accident, a lawyer can also advise you on alternative steps. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today to learn more.
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Pure Comparative Negligence in California
Determining liability in a personal injury claim is not always clear-cut. Sometimes, the fault lies with multiple parties to varying degrees. In California, pure comparative negligence is used to calculate each party’s responsibility and determine the final amount of compensation.
For example, say that you and the other motorist both contributed to the accident by failing to follow road rules. If you were deemed 50% at fault for the collision, you would only receive the remaining 50% of proposed damages. In other words, you are held financially liable to the degree of your contribution.
Generally, states have differing laws on assigning liability and recovering for damages. With pure comparative negligence, the injured victim has the right to compensation, even if they were partly to blame. This is the opposite of contributory negligence, where financial recovery is impossible for victims found at fault.
Under pure comparative negligence in California, parties can still pursue a claim regardless of their degree of fault in the accident. In some states, the victim is only allowed to seek compensation if their responsibility is less than half of the other party’s responsibility.
This same system applies when an insurance adjuster evaluates the claim—often, they aim to reduce or deny compensation by pinning the blame on another party. A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC can help you establish clear liability.
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Choosing Between Settlement and Litigation
When pursuing claims for your whiplash accident, you have two legal options—accept an out-of-court settlement or proceed with litigation. A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer can advise you which is the better option by weighing several factors.
One of the first things your attorney will likely consider is whether the offer is reasonable and enough to make you whole again. Initial settlement offers are notoriously low and may not provide adequate compensation, especially when non-economic damages are considered. Once negotiations start, the settlement offer may change.
When you settle, you waive your legal right to sue the other party and seek additional compensation. If you believe that you deserve more, you may consider filing a lawsuit to proceed with litigation. There are risks associated with this option as well. Personal injury lawsuits require a great deal of time and effort, and there is no guarantee that you will receive more compensation than you would from a settlement. A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer can review the details of your case and recommend a course of action.
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In San Jose and throughout the state of California, you will have to adhere to a statute of limitations when filing a claim or lawsuit. A personal injury victim in California must file their claim within two years of discovering their accident-related injuries.
Personal injury cases also have damage caps. Fortunately, the limit only applies to non-economic damages, where monetary value tends to be vague. A San Jose whiplash accident lawyer can help ensure that your claim is submitted on time and you have all the evidence and supporting documentation needed to file your claim successfully.
With a San Jose whiplash accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC on your side, you can fight for the compensation you deserve. Call our team today at (800) 598-7557 to get started.
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