Whiplash Settlement Amounts in Alberta
Whiplash is one of the most maligned and lampooned types of personal injury. People who suffer from whiplash are often characterized as money grubbers who are “faking” pain and suffering to get more money.
In reality, whiplash can cause a lot of problems in the average person’s life, and it’s almost impossible to “game” the system just to get a big personal injury payday.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
One of the issues that can make whiplash so difficult to deal with is the fact the symptoms sometimes take a few days to show up. Patients think they’re more or less okay after their accidents, only to start developing neck pain, stiffness, a loss of mobility, and severe headaches.
Other symptoms can include dizziness, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue, along with a brain fog that impacts concentration and memory. You might develop ringing in your ears or find that you have trouble sleeping. Symptoms may even spread to your arms and shoulders, and moving your head at all may be come very painful.
Whiplash can even start causing problems with incontinence. This is because your vertebrae and spinal discs can become misaligned, scrambling the signals between your brain and your bladder.
How does whiplash affect daily life?
Every one of the symptoms of whiplash can be life-altering. Imagine trying to go to work when you can’t control your bodily functions or even stand because you’re too dizzy. Imagine trying to play with your kids when you have an intense headache. Imagine trying to drive when turning your head to check your mirrors causes you intense pain.
Left untreated, whiplash can eventually lead to degenerative disc disease, which will have an even greater impact on your life. This is not a little, silly, or made-up injury.
What happens to your body when you get whiplash?
When your vehicle impacts with the other vehicle your head is sometimes thrown backwards by the force of the impact. Your body is then wrenched forward as the motion completes.
You can imagine how much force is being brought to bear against your bones and muscles here. Your entire neck is under assault: bones, muscles, ligaments, discs, and nerves. They’re getting wrenched out of place, and torn.
So why do symptoms take so long to show up? Simply put, swelling is occurring and it takes a bit for the swelling to complete. The swelling puts even more pressure on the nerves, bones, and tears, and the true pain begins.
What permanent damage can whiplash cause?
Whiplash does not usually just “go away on its own.” Headaches, vertigo, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain can continue for years. Severe whiplash eventually leads to degenerative disc disease.
It’s wise to get even a minor case of whiplash treated and dealt with as quickly as you possibly can.
How do you calculate the car accident settlement amount for whiplash in Alberta?
As with any personal injury case, there will be two, possibly three, parts to your settlement.
The first part will cover your medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and other expenses associated with your accident. This amount is based on hard numbers, is relatively easy to prove, and rarely gets much in the way of argument.
The second is the pain and suffering award, which in Alberta is capped (see below).
The third, rarer type, is punitive damages. If you get whiplash from a corporate driver or truck driver who is drunk on the job, for example, then punitive damages might get lumped atop the personal injury damages to deter that sort of behavior in the future.
There’s no limit on punitive damages, but they aren’t always as easily won as you might think, even when it seems obvious to the average person that the negligent driver was definitely doing something worthy of punishment. It usually takes a very good lawyer to get those damages, if there is any case for them at all.
Understanding the pain and suffering cap
In Alberta, whiplash injuries are usually classified as Minor Injuries under the Minor Injury Regulations and Diagnostic Treatment Protocols. That means pain and suffering injuries are capped at $5296.
Many of our clients are outraged when they hear that, especially once they come to understand the effects that whiplash can have on their life.
Yet other damages are capped out at $370,000, and if you have those injuries alongside your whiplash case then a good lawyer can use this information to increase your personal injury award.
Steps to take directly after your car accident
The insurance industry has known for decades that whiplash injuries can take time to show up, but that won’t stop them from trying to use this fact against you when you try to hold them accountable for their negligent driver’s actions on the road.
The first steps are the standard ones. Get insurance and contact information from the other driver, and take tons of pictures. Take way more pictures than you think you’ll need. You should do this in every car accident, regardless of whether you think you were injured or not.
You also need to get medical attention immediately, even if you can’t find any signs you were hurt. Your medical provider can often detect whiplash before you start feeling the symptoms. Your case becomes much stronger if you show that you took injuries seriously and sought medical care immediately. You get it on record: you were hurt, you were treated, and there’s a clear link between that hurt and the accident you just went through.
If you wait, you give the insurance companies a ton of material to work with. They’ll claim you’re faking your pain. They’ll claim that the pain is the result of something else. Maybe a pre-existing condition. Maybe you fell or something at home. How could we know? Clearly you’re just grasping for money!
Don’t give them this opportunity. Just let the doctor look at you. It’s an hour of your life that will really pay off. It also means that you might have meds, a treatment plan, and some support when symptoms start showing up.
If you start experiencing symptoms, start a journal. If you can’t go to work, document it. If you can’t get your dishes or laundry done, document it. If you can’t drive or play with your kids, document, document, document. This is all evidence that you are experiencing pain and suffering, and an experienced lawyer can turn all of that evidence to your advantage.
Finally, don’t wait to call a lawyer. We know there’s a popular myth that you have to wait until your injuries have been 100% resolved before you speak to a lawyer, but nothing could be further from the truth. You can speak to a lawyer the moment you feel medically capable of doing so. Doing so can make a huge difference to the eventual settlement that you receive.
Why call our lawyers?
We have decades of personal injury experience and have won large settlements for our clients. We’re well known as one of Calgary’s toughest litigation teams, as well as for being some of Calgary’s savviest negotiators.
We’re also convenient for you! You don’t have to leave your bed if you don’t want to. We’ll meet with you via Zoom and start the process on your behalf. We can even deal with insurance companies for you! Call (403) 225-7777 to get started today.