How to Make a Claim for Whiplash Injury in 5 Steps

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 21, 2020
A woman suffering from whiplash, wondering how to make a claim for a whiplash injury.

When you or a loved one has been in a car accident, understanding how to make a claim for whiplash injury can save you significant time. As the name suggests, whiplash is a neck injury that simulates the back and forth motion of a whip when it is cracked. It is marked by overextension when the head is thrown either backward or to the side, followed by forceful motion in the opposite direction.

As one of the most common injuries in vehicle collisions, whiplash shouldn’t be dismissed as minor. Making a claim with the right lawyer could reveal that you are entitled to considerable compensation.

You may be reading this page after already having left the scene of the accident. However, there are still practical steps you can make to ensure you receive maximum reimbursement for your losses.

Step 1: Get Medical Attention Right Away

This can be achieved in several ways:

  • At the accident scene
  • In the emergency room
  • By your primary care physician

At The Smith Law Center, we recommend doing all three if the circumstances allow.

If emergency responders arrive on the scene, it is in your best interest to cooperate with them. The moments directly following a crash will leave your body pumping with adrenaline, which can distract you from even serious pain. Allow medics to treat and examine you, whether you think you might be injured or not.

When the crash seems minor, keep in mind that it may not necessarily mean that your injuries are. Whiplash is a soft tissue spinal cord injury that often doesn’t surface immediately. Only a trained medical professional can properly diagnose whiplash injury.

Related Article: Delayed Symptoms After an Accident

Upon leaving the crash, visit the emergency room and make an appointment to be seen by your primary care physician right away. Visiting the emergency room ensures you are seen as soon as possible, while your treating physician will give a more thorough assessment of your injuries.

Do’s and Don’ts When Seeking Medical Attention

  • Do have all of your injuries documented as soon as possible by a medical professional
  • Do let your doctor know of every symptom you are experiencing, whether minor or not
  • Do follow doctor’s orders. Failing to do so could seriously undermine your claim credibility or recovery amount
  • Do get a full physical evaluation as soon as possible following the accident
  • Don’t try to be strong or tough and insist you are okay
  • Don’t say you’re fine, even if you feel ok at the moment
  • Don’t try and move your car or touch the wreckage

Step 2: Contact a Whiplash Injury Lawyer

It is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a qualified whiplash lawyer. A competent, experienced lawyer will be one of your most valuable resources when it comes to knowing how to make a claim for whiplash injury.

The best way to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your losses is by seeking legal assistance from an experienced attorney.

Consider the benefits of putting a seasoned advocate on your side. A lawyer can:

  • Handle all paperwork within the filing deadlines to ensure you don’t miss your chance to claim compensation
  • Hire top investigative experts to assess the crash and determine liability factors
  • Build an effective case strategy based on state laws
  • Field calls from the other party’s insurance company and negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf
  • Relieve the legal burden from your shoulders so you can take time to heal and recover

At The Smith Law Center, we offer a free initial legal consultation for whiplash injury victims. We will listen closely to your story, help you determine whether your case qualifies for compensation, and offer insight regarding your options moving forward.

All consultations are given as a courtesy and without obligation. To start your free case review, simply contact us at (757) 695-9288 today.

Step 3: Report the Accident

There are two main entities you’ll want to be sure you file a formal report with: the police at the scene of the accident and your insurance company. In both instances, it’s best to do so as soon as possible.

Filing a Police Report

If police do not arrive on the scene of the accident and you’ve been injured, contact the police department to request that an officer come to fill out a report.

The police report is not an end-all report on the collision, though it can boost your case credibility and is a key reference document for your claim. The more documentation you have, the better.

File a Claim With Your Insurance

You are required to notify your insurance company of any accident you’ve been in, preferably within 48 hours or at your earliest convenience. However, there are a few important tips to keep in mind before doing this:

Do’s and Don’ts for Reporting:

  • Do call your insurance company as soon as possible
  • Do stick to the facts when speaking to them
  • Don’t discuss blame with any insurance adjuster, even your own
  • Don’t admit fault or assume responsibility for any part of the collision
  • Don’t agree to an offer from your insurance company, whether verbally or in writing, without first speaking with a lawyer

Another part that’s worth noting is that your insurer may request that you have an Independent Medical Exam (IME). Put simply, an IME is a medical exam that is given by a physician who is provided by the insurance company. It is widely known that this exam is meant to poke holes in any substantial injury diagnosis by your treating physician. The goal is to protect the insurance company from paying more money.

In most cases, there is no way out of an IME. However, talk with a lawyer about your options before having this done. Be mindful that anything you say or do from the moment you arrive at your appointment may be used to discredit the severity of your injury.

If you have questions about any of these reports, the whiplash injury attorneys at The Smith Law Center are available for providing free, no-obligation consultations. We can help ensure your rights are protected. Simply contact us at (757) 244-7000 today.

Step 4: Document Everything

The third step in understanding how to make a claim for whiplash injury is documenting all evidence. In this case, “evidence” can include any form of documentation, such as photos of the accident or your injuries, audio recordings, and all receipts or medical expenses associated with the crash. Examples of documents that can be used as evidence might include:

  • Dashcam footage of the crash, if you have it
  • Photos or medical records as proof of your health status before your injury
  • Doctors notes for approving time away from your job
  • Pay stubs, medical leave logs, or proof of absence from work
  • Medical documentation or test results that show your injury and recovery progress
  • Notes or journal entries recording your symptoms

Gathering any and all evidence immediately and consistently is in your best interest. It will also save your lawyer valuable time in the investigative process. This key to understanding how to make a claim for whiplash injury.

One of the greatest advantages of having a legal advocate on your side is that your attorney will be a tremendous help in this step. A qualified law firm will have the resources to conduct a proper investigation into your whiplash claim.

Step 5: Be Patient

The right attorney will have an optimistic yet practical view of your case. The reality is, there are no quick settlements in whiplash injury claims, and you should be wary of any lawyer who promises one.

Be prepared to exercise patience and prudence until your claim is settled. While there is no set time it takes for a whiplash case to settle, most will resolve within six months to a year or year and a half. During this time, it’s important to continue cooperating with your attorney, especially until negotiations are finalized.

Tip: Avoid using or remove yourself from social media platforms entirely during the legal process. Defense attorneys have been known to use social media content to weaken your claim for injuries or compensation, so be careful about what you or your friends and loved ones post.

Start a Whiplash Injury Claim

Learn how to make a claim for whiplash injury today by calling The Smith Law Center at (757) 244-7000. As one of Virginia’s top personal injury law firms, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and have secured over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements. We are seasoned attorneys and understand how to make the legal process as smooth as possible for you and your family.

Stephen Smith

Few law firms understand the intricacies of brain and spinal cord injuries, including whiplash. Our firm founder, Stephen Smith, is a graduate of Marquette University’s Neuroanatomical Dissection of the Human Brain and Spinal Cord program. He has broken statewide records with his case results, which include what was then the largest traumatic brain injury verdict in the world.

Our extensive knowledge and experience with neck and brain injuries, including whiplash, help us obtain maximum compensation for our clients.

If you or a loved one are looking for help with how to make a claim for whiplash injury, our seasoned team of trial lawyers is ready to assist you in making a strong recovery.

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About Smith Law Center

Our lawyers are more than lawyers. They are people who understand your injuries and the law that surrounds your options when it comes to holding others accountable.

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