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Typical Whiplash Settlements

 

            Whiplash injury settlements vary greatly in California.  It also varies from City to City or County to County.  The reason for the varied settlements is that there are too many factors to be able to make generalized statements about whiplash injury settlements.  Typical whiplash settlements are small relative to other type of injury cases.   The majority of auto accidents that result in injury result in whiplash injury and other soft tissue injury.  There is no general rule for whiplash injury settlements. 

            There is no law or rule that specifies what has to be paid in damages.   This is because there are too many variables.  Whiplash settlements depend on such things as the attorney hired, the medical providers, the defendant, the claimant, and the insurer of the defendant. 

            Attorneys impact  personal injury settlements and statistical data shows that personal injury claimants do better than those that do not employ an attorney.  Some attorneys never take cases to trial, because it is a very time consuming and draining experience.  These attorneys that never take cases to trial quickly develop a reputation with  insurance companies and as a result they have much lower bargaining power than an attorney is willing to take a case to trial.  The typical whiplash settlement for an attorney that takes cases to trial is much higher than the typical whiplash settlement for an attorney that never takes cases to trial.  Attorneys that take cases to trial develop a comparable, but reverse reputation with insurance companies.  Insurance companies track attorneys and know which attorneys are willing to take cases to trial and are willing to pay more for a typical whiplash injury claim, because it is more expensive to take the case to trial than to settle it.   There are also attorneys that simply manipulate evidence and chiropractors that manipulate evidence.  This can also result in higher whiplash settlements than the typical whiplash settlement.  The FBI and District Attorney’s office often investigates such individuals and often results in the loss of a license and jail time.

            The medical provider greatly affects the typical whiplash settlement, because the typical insurance company uses computer software to evaluate cases.  The medical provider uses a system to examine and evaluate the progress of the treatment for patients.  Attorneys familiar with these systems are better able to guide the whiplash injury claimant to obtain a better result.  In effect it is a game and whoever knows the rules best and whoever is a natural for the game gets the best results.  As a rule medical doctors who charge within the norm and who take careful detailed notes provide the best evidence to support a personal injury claim that results in the best whiplash injury settlement.  Chiropractors are used more often than medical doctors, but cannot prescribe medication and generally the medical evidence they provide is less helpful in enhancing the value of a typical whiplash settlement.  There are studies that show that chiropractic care can be very beneficial in healing patients, but insurance companies always apply less weight to chiropractic care.

            The defendant and the personal injury claimant also affect the typical whiplash injury settlement.  The reason this occurs is because a person’s personality, color of skin, physical appearance, personal hygiene, criminal background, work history, honesty, and credit worthiness affect the perception of a jury.  Some person’s are very good whiners and others are very good at taking hardship in stride.  A jury is often sympathetic to a whiner, if the whiner presents well.  The same is true of persons with good first impression personalities.  Persons with poor first impression personalities don’t do well and the typical whiplash settlement is smaller than average, even if they are good persons.  The reason is there is simply not enough time for a jury to get to know the person.  Whenever there is a lawsuit a personal injury claimant’s deposition is taken and one of the reasons why this is done is to ascertain the personality of the personal injury claimant.   Exaggeration of injuries especially in a whiplash injury claim results in a poor settlement in a typical whiplash settlements.  Unfortunately racism and sexism and other forms of discrimination are still with us and insurance companies know this and typical whiplash settlements vary from person to person bases on the gender and race of the particular person.

Persons of color are more likely to be discriminated against and especially if they speak little English, so the typical whiplash settlement is smaller than average.  Juries are more sympathetic to women than to men and likewise a man’s typical whiplash injury settlement is likely to be less than a woman.  Physical appearance makes an impact as well more attractive people do better than less attractive people.  Overweight persons do not do well in trials and the typical whiplash settlement is usually lower for overweight people than average weight people.  Juries are average human beings often with more education and are more sympathetic to people like themselves than persons that differ from them.  As a result the typical whiplash settlement is lower for persons that deviate too much from the norm.  Regardless of what the claim is about or what it is for the jury will judge the personal injury claimant on everything from their work history to their physical appearance to their personality, to their hygiene, and everything else.  Juries are not neutral and insurance companies know this and this in turn will have a material effect on the typical whiplash injury settlement.

            Insurance companies determine what they are willing to pay depending on many factors including all the above factors.  Some insurance companies have a slash and burn policy where they are willing to take cases to trial at any expense if the personal injury claimant refuses to settle the case for the sum offered by the insurance companies.  Other insurance companies pay based on what will result in the smallest loss to the insurance carrier.  Some insurance companies refuse to pay anything on very small cases where the vehicle damage is very minor.  This is because juries often award nothing where the vehicle damage is minor.  The typical whiplash settlement for minor vehicle damage is very small often there is not enough to pay chiropractor bills. 

            These are some of the factors that determine the typical whiplash settlement.  There are exceptions to typical whiplash injuries and these cases are evaluated differently.  Personal injury claimants should always consult with an attorney, before they speak to anyone else regarding their whiplash injury claim.  Insurance companies are in the business of making money not handing out checks for every claim and the adjusters obviously have an obligation to protect the company not the personal injury claimant.