Soft tissue injuries are all too common when it comes to car accidents. Twisted the muscles or tendons in your neck? Banged your knee into the dash? You’ve suffered a soft-tissue injury.
Insurance companies have a tendency to devalue soft-tissue claims simply because they are so common. There is a lot of information floating around about how to determine the average settlement amount for these types of injuries.
So in this article, we’ll attempt to distil it down to the most essential to make sure you get a fair settlement.
We’ll touch on….
How Does a Car Accident Cause a Soft-Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue injury is an umbrella term for any type of injury occurring to these parts of the body. There are several ways soft tissue injuries can happen when two cars impact each other.
- Blunt force or impact — Can cause bruising or contusions affecting almost any part of the body i.e. any “soft” part as opposed to bones.
- Whiplash — Is considered a soft tissue injury and is one of the most common injuries caused during a car wreck. Whiplash is frequently seen in rear end accidents where a body absorbs the full impact of a collision.
- Sprain, strain or hyperextension — A car accident can easily make us move or contort our bodies in stressful ways. The result is often a strain or a sprain.
Common Soft-Tissue Injury Types and Symptoms
As we mentioned before, soft tissue injuries cover an extremely wide range of issues. They can be as mild as a small bruise on your shoulder to as serious as a traumatic brain injury.
Soft tissue injuries resulting from a car accident tend to manifest as strains, sprains, contusions and a bit of whiplash.
The standard symptoms are as follows :
Bruise (contusion, cork)
Symptoms: Swelling, pain, and/or discolouration.
Symptoms: Swelling, loss of strength, difficulty bearing weight, sudden onset of pain, sharp pain, redness or discoloration.
Symptoms: Reduced rain of motion, stiffness, swelling, possible discoloration and pain.
- Neck pain or achiness
- Reduced range of motion
- Unexplained dizziness
- Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
Filing a Claim for Your Soft-Tissue Injury
The first thing you should be aware of is that many insurance adjusters attempt to trivialize soft tissue injuries. They see your injuries as not being severe.
However, a soft tissue injury can be serious, long lasting, and have a profound impact on your life. So when filing a claim be sure to remember the following.
- There isn’t some “normal” level of soreness and pain you should endure after a car accident. Soft tissue injuries can seem benign at first but lead to ongoing back/neck pain or headaches and this might not be immediately obvious.
- Step one is always to get seen by a doctor. Be direct and clear in your communication with your doctor. Don’t fall into the “I need to suck it up” mentality this will only make your claim harder.
- How you approach the claim will certainly have something to do with whether or not you live in a “no-fault state”. Depending on this either your insurance company will cover your medical expenses or you can pursue the other party for damages.
If you live in a no-fault state you cannot sue the other party for damages unless your situation meets a dollar threshold.
4. For insurance companies, soft tissue claims are a dime a dozen. They often low ball and try to settle quickly. Be careful about this and don’t accept anything until the parameters of your claim are clear and you’re sure the compensation is fair. Sometimes an attorney is needed to determine this.
How Much is My Soft Tissue Injury Claim Worth?
Estimating the value of a claim is hard, and since soft-tissue injuries are a broad category the task gets even more challenging.
But what we can do is review the factors that make up the value of your claim and look at some real life examples.
Damages for soft tissue claims tend to follow into these categories
- Costs of past, present, and future medical treatment
- Lost wages or earning potential
- Physical pain and suffering
You can collect medical bills, add up time missed from work and perhaps add on 20 or 30% for pain and suffering (usually only in severe cases). This is one way to ballpark things.
If you have some tangible evidence to support your soft tissue injury claim this will likely increase your settlement. This can be things such as significant damage to your vehicle or consistent and reasonable medical documentation.
A few real life examples (the names have been changed to protect privacy)….
Example 1 : New York
Marie sustained soft tissue injuries and needed an emergency room visit plus physical therapy after a head-on collision. Although her medical bills only totaled $3,500.00, driver A lost significant time from her job due to her injuries. Her settlement amount was $15,000.
Example 2 : California
Jim sustained a concussion, whiplash and some memory loss in a collision with another driver that caused $10,000.00 in vehicle damage. These soft tissue injuries resulted in post-concussive syndrome (lost time from work, and pain/suffering). After Jim’s doctors testified to this, he was awarded policy limits of $100,000.
Soft tissue injury claims are a slightly nebulous area of the insurance world. Getting properly compensated for your soft tissue injury can be tough. Just don’t forget the following:
- Soft tissue injury is a general term that refers to injuries of “soft” body parts, that usually occur as the result of an impact, jerk or twisting motion.
- The most common soft tissue injuries are strains, sprains, contusions/bruising and whiplash.
- Insurance companies often downplay or lowball soft injury claims because proving them is hard. So it’s important to document your injuries and symptoms carefully.
- The value of an soft tissue injury claim varies. It can be a few thousand dollars for a minor issue or hundreds of thousands of dollars for one that is more serious or disruptive.
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