What is the Average Car Accident Settlement for a Back and Neck Injury?

Among the most common car accident injuries are back and neck injuries. The crash force of a car accident puts tremendous pressure on the delicate muscles, bones, and tendons even when a seatbelt prevents impact injuries. In a crash at only 30mph, a 100-pound person becomes a 3,000-pound force. Not only are back and neck injuries common in car accidents, but the impacts extend long after the accident with significant temporary or permanent disability due to pain, limited range of motion, or immobility.

A back or neck injury has a significant impact on the victim’s ability to work as well as on their daily routine. When the car accident injury occurred due to another driver’s negligence or recklessness, the person at fault for the accident is liable for the victim’s damages. “Damages” in a car accident claim refers to all of the consequences of the accident on the victim’s life. 

Many car accident victims ask, “What is the average settlement for a car accident claim for a back or neck injury?”

neck injury affecting the workplace.

What Are the Most Common Back and Neck Injuries Caused by Car Accidents?

Researchers estimate a yearly average of 869,000 cervical spine (neck) injuries occur from car accidents each year as well as 2,800 spinal disc injuries, 23,500 back and neck fractures, 1,500 dislocations, and 2,800 spinal cord injuries. Common back and neck injuries from car accidents include:

  • Whiplash
  • Fractures
  • Disc injuries
  • Lumbar sprains
  • “Mechanical back pain” or pain caused by damage to the musculoskeletal system, including to the discs, vertebrae, bones, muscles, and ligaments 

Back and neck injuries from car accidents are likely underestimated since many people fail to seek treatment for less severe injuries, or treatment goes unreported when injury victims don’t seek compensation for their damages.

What is Whiplash From a Car Accident?

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in car accidents, occurring even in mild accidents with little property damage to vehicles. Whiplash injuries result from the rapid back-and-forth—or whip-like— movement of the head and neck during the force of a collision. Whiplash causes pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders and may also cause neurological symptoms like memory and concentration problems, numbness, tingling, and headaches.

Symptoms of a Back or Neck Injury

The most common symptoms of accident-related back and neck injuries are pain and stiffness. Other injuries appearing within hours or days of the injury include the following:

  • Pain that worsens with movement or activity
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sagging arm or shoulder on one side
  • Limited range of motion
  • Difficulty lifting objects
  • Numbness, tingling, prickling, or a “crawly” feeling on the extremities
  • A grinding sound or feeling with movement
  • Bruising, redness, and/or inflammation

Anyone who has been in a car accident should seek medical attention immediately and undergo a thorough evaluation; however, if you experience any of the above symptoms, report them to your medical provider.

What is Spinal Stenosis After a Car Accident?

When car accident victims fail to seek medical care for a back injury or a doctor fails to diagnose and properly treat a back injury, the result can be spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis occurs when the channel in the center of the vertebrae column narrows due to uncontrolled swelling and chronic inflammation. Spinal stenosis is degenerative and progresses over time if it remains unaddressed.

Compensation for Car Accident Damages After a Back or Neck Injury

Most states have a fault-based insurance system that requires those at fault for a car accident to take responsibility for the damages caused to others. Payouts for compensation on car accident claims typically come from the at-fault party’s car accident liability insurance. Even in no-fault insurance states like New Jersey, victims of debilitating injuries or those with optional unlimited lawsuit insurance may file lawsuits against liable parties. Common damages claimed for back and neck injuries after a car accident include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses for further care or rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Future income loss
  • Diminished earning capacity due to disability
  • Compensation for pain and suffering
  • Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life

Loss of enjoyment of life compensation is common in serious back and neck injury claims due to the dramatic impact of limited mobility on the victim’s normal way of life. A back or neck injury may make it difficult or impossible to enjoy the physical activities previously enjoyed before the accident.

Average Car Accident Settlement Amounts For Back and Neck Injuries

Many variables are factored into the settlement amount for compensation in a back or neck injury claim. Depending on the severity of the injury, the amount of medical treatment required, whether or not the effects are temporary or permanent, and the injury victim’s previous average salary or wages all impact the amount of a settlement offered by the insurance company of the party at fault for the accident. The average wages in the state where the injury occurred also affect an individual’s settlement amount. For example, the average settlement for a severe back or neck injury in New Jersey is close to $1 million, while it’s $3 million in New York and $305,000 in North Dakota. This is largely due to a wide difference in average pay rates.

How Can I Maximize the Amount of My Settlement for a Back or Neck Injury?

After a car accident with a back or neck injury, it’s important first to document evidence of liability on the part of the negligent driver that caused the accident. Taking photos at the scene and obtaining a copy of the police report is important evidence. Then, an injury victim can maximize their settlement amount by having a thorough medical exam after the accident with a detailed report, keeping careful records of all medical costs and related expenses, documenting their lost work days and wages, and keeping a pain journal to record the impacts of the injury on their daily life.

No one should take on the insurance system alone after a serious accident with a back or neck injury. Experienced Cherry Hill car accident lawyers can help maximize the amount a victim recovers in a settlement or court award for their damages.