Whiplash victims want to know how much of a settlement amount they can expect. This page is about how whiplash claims work and the average compensation for whiplash in cases nationally and in Maryland.
In particular car accidents, sudden deceleration or acceleration causes the neck to whip forward and back, often causing injury to the cervical spine—the part of the spine found in the neck—and neck tissues. Whiplash, neck sprain, or strain (they all mean the same thing) result from ligaments and neck muscles being forced beyond their normal range of motion.
Whiplash is common in rear-end car accidents. Rear-end accidents are the most common type of motor vehicle collision. These crashes are responsible for more than 30% of injuries in car accidents in the United States.
You May Need a Lawyer… You May Not
There have been millions of whiplash lawsuits. Most whiplash injuries are mild and only last for a few weeks.
Do you need a lawyer for a whiplash injury claim? Our law firm handles these cases, although in more minor cases, you may even be able to handle this type of case yourself without a lawyer if the injuries are not significant and resolve quickly. Can bad things happen if you try this? Of course. But victims should know what their options are instead of the trite and overplayed “YOU NEED A LAWYER NOW.”
Some whiplash injuries are more serious. If you believe you have a personal injury case in Maryland and would like to speak with one of our whiplash lawyers, contact us at (800) 553-8082 or online for a free consultation. We will also refer your whiplash claim to attorneys we work with in all 50 states if you want help finding the best whiplash lawyer. If you are looking for a referral to a lawyer in another state, we would prefer if you selected the online option because we get so many calls.
Whiplash and Brain Injuries
Sudden acceleration and deceleration of the neck can damage the human body in more ways than one. Injuries to the spine and neck tissues are expected, including muscle strains, inflammation, herniated or bulging discs, facet joint injuries, and more. These injuries can be painful and sometimes go undiagnosed and untreated.
Researchers have found that patients with mild traumatic brain injuries from whiplash can still have cognitive deficits long after the injury occurred, such as problems with attention, memory, planning, abstract reasoning, and problem-solving.1
Indeed, brain injuries may account for some of the more lasting effects of whiplash. For example, neck pain patients with a history of whiplash are more likely than those without a history of whiplash to have a Chiari malformation, a condition in which the brain protrudes downwards into the spinal canal. This suggests a possible neurologic origin of chronic pain following whiplash.2
The Severity of Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash typically goes away within a few weeks. This can often be achieved simply with pain medication and exercise. Other people may experience lasting, chronic symptoms. Other injuries may be present as well that contribute to a victim’s lasting symptoms. Some spinal injuries, for example, go undiagnosed. Damage to the spinal discs and facet joints are common.
The symptoms commonly following a whiplash injury are collectively called Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) or Cervical Spine Syndrome.3,4 Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain when moving the neck, loss of range of motion
- Shoulder, arm, upper back pain
- Numbness or tingling of the face, arms
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Trouble sleeping
- Cognitive and emotional symptoms (irritability, trouble concentrating)
Being in a high-speed accident, experiencing severe pain, having trouble moving your neck, and tingling or pain that travels through the arms all indicate a more severe and lasting whiplash injury.
Additionally, some people are more at risk for more severe injuries, including those who previously had whiplash or other back/neck problems and the elderly.
The treatment for WAD initially involves pain medication and exercise. Physical therapy involves strength training to improve posture, reducing stress on the spine and neck tissues.
Chronic neck pain is usually the result of a spinal or neurological injury, not a tissue injury. Treatment for chronic neck pain depends on the type of underlying injury, be it surgery to repair a herniated disc or epidural injections for pain.
Why Some Whiplash Injuries Are Worse Than Others
Defense lawyers and insurance companies always want to know why some victims have long-term whiplash injuries, and others do not. Baked into their question is the suggestion that the victim is faking or exaggerating their injuries. But science explains why some are more susceptible to long-term whiplash injuries.
There are known risk factors in the medical literature that indicate why some car crash victims are more likely to suffer long-term pain and complications. These are some of the risk factors (with a link to the medical study proving the point):
- Cervical lordosis – The curvature of the spine can affect the extent of whiplash injury.
- Hit from behind – How the collision occurred, such as being hit from behind, can impact the severity of whiplash. Rear-end accidents are usually worse whiplash-wise.
- Older victim – Older individuals may experience more severe whiplash injuries. But younger victims get higher whiplash injury compensation amounts.
- Preexisting degenerative changes – Even if asymptomatic, existing spinal changes can contribute to whiplash severity.
- Prior whiplash injury -A history of previous whiplash injuries can make individuals more susceptible to severe whiplash in subsequent accidents.
- Lack of awareness of impending impact (despite what many believe)
How Whiplash Settlement Payouts Are Calculated
Whiplash injury settlement amounts are calculated based on various factors, and the approach to maximizing compensation varies depending on the jurisdiction and the case’s specific circumstances. But there are three common threads in every whiplash damage calculation:
Medical Expenses: This includes costs for:
- Emergency room visits
- Doctor consultations
- Physical therapy or chiropractic treatments
- Medical equipment like braces or supports.
- Any future medical expenses related to the injury, which we usually don’t see in these cases
Lost Wages: If the victim misses work due to the injury, they might be compensated for those lost wages. This could also include lost earning capacity if the victim can no longer perform their previous job or work as many hours. While our lawyers do not see many cases with future medical expenses, we do see cases with future lost wages because the soft tissue injury did not heal.
Pain and Suffering: This is a noneconomic damage element and is the most significant damage piece in virtually every whiplash case our office has settled. Our attorneys would take the case to trial if it was not the biggest element. This is the meat of the case – settlement compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress the victim has endured. Calculating pain and suffering can be subjective, and settlement hinges on the severity of the injury, the recovery time, and the impact on the victim’s daily life.
Example Whiplash Settlements and Verdicts
Below we provide examples of car accident whiplash injury settlements and verdicts won by victims. This resource will, along with other resources, help you estimate your whiplash injury settlement value.
Nationally, the median whiplash payout is approximately $7,500. However, every whiplash personal injury case is unique, and your case will not necessarily match that median value or example cases our lawyers provide below.
To win your case when you sue for whiplash, you must prove that the other driver was at fault and that their negligence was the cause of your injuries. In a settlement, the insurance company and your counsel will then debate the value of your injuries. At trial, a jury or judge will be the final decider of the value of your injuries.
- $33,640 Verdict (Washington 2023): A 60-year-old male on disability was stopped at a red light when the defendant slammed into the back of his car. The plaintiff claimed to suffer whiplash along with a back and shoulder sprain. The verdict included $15,000 for medical expenses plus $18,000 for pain and suffering.
- $45,000 Verdict (Pennsylvania 2023): The defendant allegedly struck the plaintiff in a broadside collision while proceeding through a busy intersection. The plaintiff claimed to suffer whiplash, a back sprain, and a sprained wrist.
- $60,000 Verdict (Georgia 2023): The plaintiff claimed to suffer pain from whiplash, headaches, shoulder pain, and right knee pain requiring surgery when the vehicle she was driving southbound, slowing to make a left turn, was rear-ended by a vehicle operated by the defendant. The defendant disputed liability and damages, noting that the impact was minor and low speed. The plaintiff sued and the jury sided with the plaintiff.
- $10,000 Verdict (Ohio 2022): The plaintiff said he stopped his vehicle to turn into his mother’s driveway when a vehicle operated by the defendant rear-ended him at a high rate of speed, then accelerated and hit him again, sending his vehicle into a ditch. The plaintiff sued for his whiplash injuries, claiming that he suffered whiplash so severe that it prevented him from returning to work as a teacher. The verdict did not include economic damages, so the jury was apparently not persuaded by the plaintiffs’ claim that he was too injured to teach.
- $28,600 Verdict (Maryland 2022): The plaintiff allegedly suffered whiplash-like injuries, including lumbar protrusions at L4-S1 with lumbar sprain/strains and radiculopathy when the vehicle she was operating was rear-ended on an off-ramp by a rental vehicle that reportedly was stolen and whose driver fled the scene. She filed suit seeking damages under her UIM coverage. The verdict included $16,000 for past medical expenses and $12,600 for pain and suffering.
- $200,000 Settlement (Maryland 2020): Our client is a really good guy with a fantastic family. He is rear-ended at a red light. There are no objective injuries. It is a whiplash with physical therapy-type injury. He gets little physical therapy because it is not helping. The insurance company jumps on the limited treatment and offers $17,000 to settle. Our lawyers file suit. Before trial, their offer doubles. We would have taken that offer before filing a lawsuit. But it is too late now. The trial begins. Our lawyers put on a great case, and, more importantly, our client, his co-worker, and his wife make great witnesses. Our client accepted a $200,000 settlement offer before the jury reached a verdict.
- $44,000 Settlement (Washington 2019): A mother drives on a highway in Washington with her two children in the backseat. She stops for traffic ahead of her. A driver two cars behind her fails to stop, causing a chain-reaction car accident, and she is rear-ended. The mother suffers sprains/strains in her ankle and neck, back pain, and whiplash with headaches. The defendant admits liability, and the case is arbitrated, landing on an insurance settlement of $44,000, which includes medical bills, noneconomic damages, and legal costs.
- $24,500 Settlement (Idaho 2019): Two cars enter a right-turn lane. Driving the car in front, the plaintiff slows to yield to oncoming traffic from the left. The defendant fails to notice that the plaintiff ahead has stopped and rear-ended her. The plaintiff suffers a cervical disc bulge from whiplash, causing pain to radiate down her left arm. She is treated with physical therapy. The parties agreed to a whiplash compensation payout of $24,500, including compensation for past and future medical expenses and lost wages.
- $17,600 Verdict (Texas 2019): A man is driving along when another driver in a parallel lane merges into the side of his car. He suffers a whiplash injury, including problems with range of motion and post-traumatic sleep disorder, requiring rehabilitation treatment. The defendant denies liability and denies that the plaintiff’s injuries require future medical treatment. A jury awards the plaintiff $17,600.
- $87,000 Verdict (Maryland 2017): A Miller & Zois client is a passenger in a taxicab in Baltimore County (supposedly a challenging jurisdiction to get a fair result in whiplash cases) when another driver makes a left turn in front of the cab, causing an accident. There are no injury complaints at the scene, but later, she files a whiplash case. The insurance company makes no settlement offer for the case, although they ask before trial if we “would take $13,000 if it was offered.”
The settlement value of a whiplash case in Maryland often depends on the jurisdiction. Prince George’s County is a generally favorable jurisdiction for severe injury and less serious whiplash lawsuits. Baltimore City is favorable for victims in larger cases in Circuit Court but less favorable for smaller claims in District Court.
How Much Money Can I Get for Whiplash in an Auto Accident Lawsuit?
Whiplash is not considered a severe injury. But it still has value in an auto accident lawsuit. Whiplash personal injury compensation in an auto tort case is typically between $6,000 to $20,000 when the injuries are not permanent.
Over the last five years, the average jury verdict for whiplash injuries in auto tort cases is just under $20,000. As discussed below, some whiplash payouts at trial are more than ten times this amount. But average pain and suffering for whiplash – by settlement or at trial – are not particularly helpful. Because every case really is so very different.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is the name for a specific type of injury to the neck or cervical area of the spine. This type of injury is similar to a sprain, and it is caused by the head whipping back and forth due to sudden and violent deceleration (such as in an auto collision). The whipping action that causes the injury is where the name “whiplash” comes from.
What Can Impact the Settlement Value of Maryland Whiplash Auto Accident Case?
Whiplash lawsuit settlement amounts will depend on three primary factors.
The first factor is the severity of the plaintiff’s whiplash injury. Some whiplash injuries are much more severe than others, resulting in more pain and longer healing time. The more severe the injury, the higher the potential neck injury settlement payout will be.
The second factor is the credibility of the plaintiff. Whiplash injuries cannot be identified with diagnostic imaging. So they are inherently very subjective. Juries need to believe the plaintiff to believe that she has a severe whiplash injury.
Finally, you need to hire the best whiplash lawyer you can find. Good lawyering makes a difference in the outcome of soft tissue injury cases at trial and at the settlement table.
How Much Money Did You Get for Your Client in Your Last Whiplash Case That You Took to Trial?
Our Maryland car accident lawyers took a whiplash case to trial earlier this year. The insurance company’s offer was $17,000. We understood why. No objective injury. There was minor property damage. But our client was hurt. So we went to trial. Simply put, we beat them senseless at trial, and they raised their offer to $200,000 before the jury gave their verdict. (Notably, this case was in Prince George’s County.) Can you expect $200,000 as an average whiplash settlement if you hire our accident lawyers? No.
Hire a Whiplash Lawyer in Maryland
If you have been injured in a car accident, our lawyers may be able to help you win compensation with a settlement payout for what you have endured. Our Baltimore, Maryland-based law firm handles severe whiplash cases. Contact us at 800-553-8082 or 410-779-4600. or online for a free consultation.
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These are some of the medical studies whiplash lawyers on both sides use at trial with experts in these lawsuits:
- “Persistent cognitive deficits after whiplash injury: a comparative study with mild traumatic brain injury patients and healthy volunteers” by Kurt Beeckmans et al., Acta Neurologica Belgica, 2017. Whiplash injury patients and healthy controls were given extensive neurological tests. Whiplash injury patients scored significantly more deficient with “speed of performance during sustained and divided attention, focused attention, alternating attention, the storage of new auditory-verbal unrelated information into memory, the long-term delayed recall of stored auditory-verbal related information from memory, abstract reasoning and accuracy of performance during the planning and problem-solving.”
- “A case-control study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma (whiplash)” by Michael Freeman et al., Brain Injury, 2010. This is the first study demonstrating a difference in neurological diagnosis between regular neck pain patients and whiplash neck pain patients. Researchers found that whiplash patients had a higher incidence of Chiari malformation.
- “Acute whiplash associated disorders (WAD)” by Khushnum Pastakia and Saravana Kumar, Open Access Emergency Medicine, 2011. An overview of whiplash-associated disorders and treatments.
- “Pathology and Treatment of Traumatic Cervical Spine Syndrome: Whiplash Injury” by Nobuhiro Tanaka et al., Advances in Orthopedics, 2018.Clinical practice guidelines and classification for cervical spine syndrome.