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Average Whiplash Settlement After A Car Accident

Legally reviewed by: Jenna-Marie Cosme September 3, 2022
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Are you suffering from whiplash following a car accident? You may benefit from working with a personal injury lawyer, who can explain how car accident settlements work, help you understand the range for the average settlement for a whiplash injury, and more. 

Whiplash injuries may be overlooked, since symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after the car crash. This does not mean, however, that you should have to live with your injury or be responsible for other damages caused by the accident. If you were a victim to someone else’s negligence, you may have legal options. 

Learn more today by contacting a car accident lawyer through LegalFinders for a free consultation.

Whiplash injury settlement

Average Whiplash Injury Settlement Amounts

How much the average whiplash injury claim may settle for depends on a range of factors. Perhaps the factor that affects settlements the most is the severity of the injury. In general, injuries which will have serious, long-term effects garner higher settlement offers. 

So, minor whiplash injury settlements will range, on average, from $10,000 up to $100,000 or more. For whiplash injuries which are considered catastrophic injuries, or those that will be life-changing, the settlement payout may be much higher, such as $1 million or more.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that these ranges are just that — an average amount which has been awarded to car accident victims in previous whiplash injury settlements. Your own whiplash settlement will depend on how severe your injury is, how it will impact your life, whether you are expected to fully recover, and many other factors.

How Do Whiplash Injury Settlements Work?

The path to securing a settlement award for your whiplash injury will likely involve first filing an injury claim, then undergoing the negotiations process with help from a personal injury lawyer. If your case does not settle (a rare occurrence), you may take it to court.

Filing An Injury Claim

First, your lawyer will help you file a personal injury claim (like an insurance claim) which lists all damages — such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. They may ask for documentation, such as your medical treatment records, photos of the car accident, the police report, and more.

Once they have a good idea of the scope of your injuries and how they have impacted your life, the lawyer will be ready to file your injury claim, and can complete this step on your behalf.

Settlement Negotiations

The negotiations process can be grueling and take some time. That’s why it helps to have an experienced personal injury attorney working on your case. There are several steps to negotiating your final settlement offer, and a lawyer will know how to handle these steps with expert care and skill.

Negotiations for whiplash injury claims involve writing a ‘demand letter’ which explains your damages and why you are asking for the specific settlement amount. The insurance company will send a response and may deny your first demand, citing reasons such as unnecessary physical therapy sessions or denying that your injury was due solely to the accident.

Your lawyer will then respond, citing reasons the listed damages are valid, to which the insurance adjuster will respond, and may make a counter offer. The end result to these negotiations will be a final settlement amount to which you both agree. If you can’t reach an agreeable amount, your case will be taken to court. 

Personal Injury Cases

Accident cases don’t always go to court. In fact, most settle before they go to trial. When your case does end up in your court, it’s important to have an experienced trial lawyer on your side. 

The best car accident lawyers know personal injury law, are not intimidated by insurance companies, and will not back down until you have an offer that reflects the injuries you’ve suffered.

What Factors Affect Settlements For Whiplash Injuries?

A number of factors may affect your whiplash settlement payout after an auto accident. Your car accident attorney can help explain each of these and how they will impact your offer.

The Severity Of Your Injury

It is not a hard rule, but a more serious injury typically results in a higher settlement value. This is not because minor injuries are less important but simply because a more severe injury may have a greater impact on a person’s life.

For example, severe injuries could require x-rays, MRIs, physical therapy to recover, and possibly even surgery. High medical care costs add up, and your injury claim is meant to help you cover all accident-related medical costs.

Whether You Will Make A Full Recovery

A severe whiplash injury (injury to the cervical spine) can have long-term effects. These will differ from person to person, but could include chronic pain in the lower or upper back, chronic neck pain, and effects on your range of motion. 

If the injury was severe enough, you may experience pain that makes it difficult to perform your job duties, which could affect your ability to work. 

This in turn affects your livelihood. If your earning capacity is reduced because of your injury, your lawyer may list these damages on your claim.

When You Discovered Your Injury

Symptoms of whiplash may show up days or weeks after the injury occurs. This may be especially true when whiplash is a car accident injury, since shock from the vehicle accident can make pain symptoms less apparent. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, some people have complications with whiplash in that they experience pain for months or years to come. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict the course your injury and recovery will take at first. 

Your lawyer can help demonstrate why you deserve damages for possible future medical expenses by using your medical records. This is why it’s important not to waive medical attention after the accident and to keep up with all appointments and suggested paths of treatment.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Policy

Your personal injury protection (PIP) policy through your insurance may cover many of the costs of your injury. In at-fault states, you may not be able to file a whiplash injury claim unless your medical costs exceed that of your insurance policy. 

A car accident lawyer can help you understand whether you can file a claim as well as what damages to list.

Other Damages You Incurred From the Accident

In addition to costs associated with your whiplash injury, you may be able to list other damages on your personal injury claim. This could include: 

  • Broken bones
  • Torn ligaments
  • Back injury
  • Neck injury
  • Long-term back pain
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Other injuries to the cervical spine
  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Lost wages
  • Lost employer benefits

These are all known as ‘economic damages’ or damages which have a dollar value based on a related cost, such as medical bills caused by the injury or the specific amount of pay you missed while in recovery.

Other, non-economic damages include those impacts to your life which are harder to put a number on. This could include projected medical bills due to long-lasting back pain or other chronic pain, loss of earning capacity, or pain and suffering damages.

Personal Injury Law

Your car accident attorney will know personal injury law and how it will affect your settlement value. Some laws that apply include how your state considers negligence and the statute of limitations.

Negligence is a concept that affects all whiplash injury cases caused by car accidents. That is, you must prove that the at fault driver or other responsible party was negligent at the time of the accident in order to seek a settlement. 

The statute of limitations is the time period you have to file a personal injury claim within your state or the state where the accident occurred. If you exceed this time limit, you typically can’t seek a settlement. 

Whether You Can Prove Negligence

Proving negligence in injury cases is a crucial component. Your lawyer will know how to gather evidence which shows why the responsible party was negligent, how this led to the accident, and how the accident was a direct cause of your injuries. 

This is one of the reasons that it helps to work with a skilled personal injury attorney, since proving negligence can be complex without their expertise. 

Your Level Of Fault

Some states consider negligence in terms of comparative negligence, which means your whiplash settlement amount will be reduced based on your level of fault for the accident. For example, most whiplash injuries in car accidents result from rear-end collisions

If you were in a rear-end collision and the driver traveling behind you crashed into your vehicle due to failure to brake in time, they were likely at fault for the accident. But, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident and this contributed to the severity of your injuries, you could be considered partly at fault. 

In this case, the court would likely assign you a percentage of fault and the at fault party a percentage of fault, which would determine your final settlement amount. If they were assigned 75% fault and you were assigned 25%, they would have to pay your settlement offer less 25%.


Still have questions about whiplash injury settlements? Browse answers to some commonly asked questions regarding whiplash settlements and personal injury cases below.

How Long Does A Whiplash Injury Take To Settle?

How long your whiplash injury claim will take to settle will depend on the insurance adjuster’s response time, how responsive your personal injury attorney is to the insurance company, and many other factors. 

Note that it is better to be patient and take your time when settling a claim than to rush to accept the first low offer. A lawyer can help with this process by providing sound legal advice to ensure you don’t settle for an amount that is not worthy of the pain you’ve endured.

How Is A Whiplash Settlement Calculated?

Your whiplash settlement will be calculated by totaling all the economic and non-economic damages which have affected your life as a result of the accident and resulting injuries

The claim is presented to the insurance company who either denies or approves the claim. If the claim is approved, they will likely make a counter offer, and your lawyer will likely counter that offer, and so forth, until an agreeable settlement has been reached.

A whiplash injury lawyer can help ensure you identify all the damages to claim. This way, you have an optimal chance at a fair settlement offer.

Is Whiplash Pain And Suffering?

Whiplash is a unique injury in that it can cause tangible physical pain in both the short and long term, and can also cause pain and suffering. 

This is because whiplash injuries are unpredictable —  they can cause long-term back pain or chronic pain that will affect your life for years to come. For this reason, pain and suffering damages may be cited on a whiplash injury claim.

Can Whiplash Be Medically Proven?

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury, so it may be difficult to prove medically. While you may have to get MRIs or x-rays after the accident to rule out more serious injuries, whiplash will not show up on these scans. 

However, whiplash is only caused from quick trauma that throws the neck forward quickly and severely while the head stays in place, such as from the impact of a vehicle collision. As long as you seek medical care after the accident, a lawyer may be able to prove that your whiplash is connected to the car accident via your medical records.

Find A Top-Rated Car Accident Attorney To Help With Your Whiplash Settlement

If you or a loved one sustained whiplash or another type of injury after a car accident, find the legal help you need today. Through LegalFinders, you can connect with top car accident lawyers near you. We only work with the highest-rated law firms, who have years of experience backed by outstanding track records.

Your personal injury attorney will work hard to establish a strong attorney-client relationship, so you can feel secure in allowing them to manage your case. Reach out to us today to get started on a free case evaluation.

Article Sources

Johns Hopkins Medicine — Whiplash Injury

Legal Information Institute — Comparative negligence

Legal Information Institute — Damages

Legal Information Institute — Demand letter

Legal Information Institute — Negligence

Legal Information Institute — Pain and suffering

Merriam Webster — Statute of limitations