How to File a Claim for Whiplash in South Carolina
There are an estimated 1.2 million annual cases of whiplash in the United States, the vast majority of which are caused by vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one has experienced whiplash due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. Learn more about whiplash injuries and how to file a whiplash claim.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash may also be referred to as neck sprain or neck strain. This disorder is a soft tissue injury to the neck that occurs because of a sudden extension and bending of the neck. It can also encompass injury to ligaments, discs, joints, nerve roots, and cervical muscles.
If you have ever stretched after a period of not stretching, you may notice soreness a few days after. The same is true for the stretching that occurs from whiplash, only on a much grander scale. Depending on the severity of the impact, you may not experience symptoms for several days. Understanding whether you have whiplash or another type of injury is essential in determining if you should file a claim for whiplash. Some symptoms may include:
- Neck pain and stiffness,
- Shoulder or back pain,
- Injury to surrounding muscles and ligaments, or
- Abnormal feeling of burning or prickling
Some symptoms may not be strictly physical, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, fatigue, nervousness, depression, or irritability.
Whiplash Injury – Should I File a Claim?
Anytime you are injured because of someone else’s negligent action or inaction, you may have a valid legal claim for compensation. There are four elements that must be satisfied to establish a claim for negligence:
- A duty of care was owed to the injured person,
- The duty of care was breached,
- The breach was the cause of the injury (whiplash), and
- The injury constitutes actual, compensable damage.
In the case of a whiplash injury caused by a vehicle accident, it is important to know that each driver on the road owes other drivers and pedestrians a duty to drive with reasonable care and obey all traffic laws. Your attorney can help you determine whether you have the legal right to compensation and how to file a whiplash claim.
How to File a Whiplash Claim
Knowing how to file a personal injury claim for whiplash will help you feel more confident working through the process and set expectations. Here are some suggestions on the appropriate steps to take.
Seek Medical Attention
Your health is by far the most important concern. A medical professional can make sure you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to minimize the long-term impact of your injuries. Make sure you see the doctor within a reasonable amount of time from the accident so that there is no question that your whiplash is related to your accident when you go to file a claim from whiplash.
Keep Detailed Records
Medical care can be expensive. Follow your recommended treatment plan to care for your whiplash injury and keep records of all associated costs. This includes emergency care, doctor visits, medication, physical therapy, lost wages from time off of work, and more. These records will help prove the actual cost of your injury and make sure you receive fair compensation. You should also retain a copy of the police report for your accident.
File an Insurance Claim
South Carolina is an “at-fault” state, meaning that the party responsible for the accident will be liable for damages. File a claim promptly to ensure you do not miss any deadlines established by the insurance policy. It is essential to know that what you say to the insurance agent matters. Do not imply any degree of fault. You can still bring a claim if you are partially responsible for the accident, but your settlement could be reduced by the amount you are found at fault. The negligent party will undoubtedly try and state that you contributed to the cause of the accident.
Seek Legal Counsel
You do not have to accept an unfair settlement offer. An experienced attorney can help you determine the value of your claim and walk you through the process of how to file a claim for whiplash. They can also negotiate on your behalf and file a lawsuit if warranted.
John Peace has represented personal injury victims for over 20 years in North Carolina and South Carolina. At the Peace Law Firm, we understand how difficult it can be to navigate the legal system to get the compensation you need. We pride ourselves in making our clients feel like family and providing zealous representation. Contact us today to schedule your case consultation.