A soft tissue injury car accident settlement relies on several factors, including the severity of the injury and who was at fault for the crash. If you’ve suffered a soft tissue injury like a sprain or whiplash in an accident that was partially or no fault of your own, you deserve compensation.
The first step to receiving a settlement after a soft tissue injury from a car accident is always to seek medical care. Your health and wellness should come before any legal action, so be sure to visit the emergency room or your family doctor for a formal diagnosis and treatment plan right away.
Once you begin the path to healing, reach out to a trusted personal injury lawyer with experience fighting soft tissue injury cases. An attorney will help you calculate the compensation you’re owed from your injury and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Soft tissue injuries are stressful enough. Avoid the additional hassle of unpaid medical bills and insurance adjusters by seeking guidance from a qualified personal injury law firm. For more information on identifying a soft tissue injury and how to launch an injury claim, keep reading.
What is a Soft Tissue Injury?
A soft tissue injury is damage to the soft tissues in the body rather than to hard bones and cartilage. A soft tissue injury happens when the more fragile tissues suffer trauma, such as overuse, blunt force, or stretching. These injuries primarily occur to four main types of soft tissues.
- Muscles: Bands of fibrous soft tissue that produce movement and enhance strength.
- Tendons: Cords of fibrous collagen tissue that connect muscles to bones.
- Ligaments: Bands of flexible connective tissue that connect two bones or a joint.
- Bursae: Fluid-filled sacs that support surrounding soft tissues and joints.
A car accident injury is typically classified as a soft tissue injury if one of the above structures has become torn or inflamed.
Most Common Types of Soft Tissue Injuries From a Car Accident
Soft tissue damage is among the most common car accident injuries. Soft tissues are far more delicate than hard bone, so the trauma of a vehicle collision may cause a variety of injuries at once. Below is a list of common soft tissue injuries associated with car accidents.
Strains are a soft tissue injury that affects muscles and tendons. Strains occur when these soft tissues have been overused, stretched, or struck at high speeds. The impact of a car accident often forces muscles and tendons to extend beyond the natural range, causing muscle pain, sensitivity, and reduced strength in the affected area.
Sprains are similar to strains, except they impact the ligaments in the body. The force of a collision can twist or stretch ligaments in an unnatural direction, causing the tissue to partially or completely tear. Sprains often create a limited range of motion, as they occur between two bones or between a joint.
Tendonitis is a soft tissue injury that only impacts tendons, a fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone. A sudden impact can cause a tendon to swell and become stiff. In car accident injury cases, tendonitis is common with a broken bone, especially in the arms and shoulders. The trauma of a broken bone often damages the closest tissue, which is typically a tendon.
Whiplash is the umbrella term for a soft tissue injury that impacts multiple structures in the neck (cervical spine). The rapid motion of a car crash often forces the neck and head to violently rush forward and backward, potentially tearing several muscles, tendons, and ligaments at once. Whiplash is the leading cause of neck pain after a car accident and may also impact the shoulders.
Bursitis is a slightly different type of soft tissue damage from the above injuries as it impacts the bursae rather than bands of tissue. The trauma of an accident inflames the fluid-filled bursae located around the bones, muscles, and tendons. Crash-induced bursitis typically affects the elbows, shoulders, ankles, and other structures that connect with parts of the vehicle on impact.
A contusion is the medical term for a bruise, a collection of broken blood vessels in soft tissue. Contusions result from blunt force trauma, like being struck by another object. This injury is common in car accidents when any part of your body can strike the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows on impact.
Symptoms to Look Out for After a Crash
After a car crash, it’s important to monitor all pain symptoms, from something as simple as a headache to as small as a bruise. You may feel these symptoms immediately after the accident or in the days following the crash. Many car accident injury symptoms can be delayed, which means they can take up to several weeks to develop fully.
Regardless, if you instantly feel pain symptoms after a crash, visit the hospital or urgent care. Several soft tissue injury symptoms can indicate underlying severe damage, so it’s critical you seek medical care as soon as possible. Every accident injury is different, and only a medical professional can determine the full extent of your injuries.
Symptoms to look out for after an auto accident include:
- Radiating pain
- Sharp or stabbing pain
- Swelling or inflammation
- Tenderness or pain with touch
- Restricted range of motion
- Difficulty bearing weight
- Redness or discoloration
- Numbness or tingling
- Sudden onset of pain
Aside from obvious symptoms like pain and stiffness, watch for behavioral or personality changes after an accident. Memory loss and lack of concentration are common in individuals who suffer a soft tissue injury like whiplash. Other emotional changes, like anxiety or depression, can also indicate a serious accident injury.
How Insurance Companies Review Soft Tissue Injury Claims
Skeptical is the best way to describe how insurance companies review soft tissue injury claims. Over the years, many people have filed fraudulent whiplash and other injury claims as a way to make a quick buck after a car accident. As a result, insurance companies have tightened their review process, making it more difficult for a legitimate injury claim to be approved.
To make matters more complicated, soft tissue injuries are generally more difficult to prove than other injuries, like a broken bone. A broken bone is typically apparent at the accident scene and is easily captured with medical images, like X-rays. Insurance adjusters are also familiar with the amount of pain and suffering and the timeline of healing a broken bone.
In comparison, soft tissue injuries are not visible to the naked eye and aren’t as easy to capture with medical imaging. This is why all legal and medical professionals recommend accident victims visit the hospital right away. Immediate medical care creates an instant paper trail of medical records to help support an injury claim and document the extent of the damage.
Medical records establish tangible proof of your injury, support the resulting treatment expenses, and serve as evidence of your pain and suffering. These records prevent insurance adjusters from blaming your injury on a previous medical condition or discrediting the severity of the damage. It’s important to support medical records with photographic evidence of bruising or swelling.
Factors That Can Impact a Soft Tissue Injury Settlement
It’s no secret an insurance company isn’t the most cooperative when reviewing soft tissue injury claims, and several other factors can impact the average payout. There are eight factors that can influence the total amount of compensation you’re awarded for a soft tissue injury.
1. Fault Laws
Fault laws refer to which auto insurance policy will provide compensation to a victim after a car accident. Kentucky is a “no-fault” state, which means that drivers in Kentucky are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on their insurance policy and file injury claims through their own insurance first.
A victim can bring a case against an at-fault driver if the accident caused more than $1,000 in medical expenses or resulted in permanent injury/disfigurement, a broken bone, or death. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will then need to pay back the victim’s insurance company for the amount of PIP coverage or more, depending on the amount of agreed-upon damages.
2. Split Liability
Kentucky is one of just 13 states with pure comparative negligence laws, which means a car accident victim’s liability in the accident will impact their potential settlement. Under pure comparative negligence laws, a plaintiff may recover damages from the defendant minus their percentage of responsibility. This means victims can receive a settlement, even if they were partially at fault.
If a jury verdict decides you are 15% at fault for the crash, you can still collect up to 85% of your damages. If you are found to be 50% at fault, you can still collect the remaining 50% of your damages. Factors that may cause you to split liability for your accident injuries include speeding before impact and failure to wear a seatbelt.
3. Economic Damages: Medical Expenses
One of the most important factors in a soft tissue injury car accident settlement is the damages. Damages are classified as either economic or non-economic. Economic damages have a monetary value attached to them, like medical bills and prescription costs.
The primary economic damages in soft tissue injury claims are past and future medical expenses. The primary medical expenses for a soft tissue injury include diagnostic imaging, like X-rays or MRIs, and injury treatment, such as physical therapy. Factors such as the duration of your hospital stay, type of care given, and required surgery will impact your total settlement.
4. Economic Damages: Lost Wages
Lost wages are secondary economic damages included in a soft tissue injury claim. Lost wages are defined as the amount of income an accident victim would have received if it had not been for the at-fault driver’s actions. The total amount of lost income can be compensated in a settlement, including routine paycheck amounts, bonuses or tips, and vacation or sick days.
5. Non-Economic Damages: Pain and Suffering
Non-economic damages are not an expense with an obvious price tag. These damages refer to the compensation required for emotional and physical losses. In soft tissue injury cases, these damages are primarily for pain and suffering or the mental and physical anguish caused by the accident injury. More severe injuries typically incur more pain and suffering.
6. Severity of the Injury
The severity of the injury is a factor that can dramatically impact a soft tissue injury settlement. A more serious physical injury, such as whiplash that tore numerous tissues, is often awarded more compensation than a minor injury, like a small bruise. A permanent injury, or damage that will require life-long care, also tends to receive a higher settlement.
7. Influence of a Personal Injury Attorney
Representation from a personal injury attorney can play a massive role in your overall injury settlement. A car accident lawyer is familiar with negotiating with insurance adjusters and knowledgeable on the documentation necessary to win an injury case. Their experience with personal injury claims can protect you from an unfair settlement offer from the insurance company.
8. Jury Verdicts or Court Rulings
Whether or not your case makes it to court can also impact your soft tissue injury claim. A judge or jury will require substantial evidence to make a ruling, especially if the liability in the case is shared. This is another area where retaining an injury attorney is crucial, as a lawyer can argue you shared less responsibility and deserve a higher percentage of your damages.
Let David Bryant Law Help You Get Fair Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue damage from a car accident is disruptive to daily life, regardless of what the insurance company wants you to believe. While not as obvious as a broken bone, a soft tissue injury can cause excruciating pain and debilitating stiffness. Car accident victims suffering from soft tissue damage are just as deserving of financial compensation as those with other, “more severe” injuries.
If you have suffered a soft tissue injury, do not wait to seek legal representation. Personal injury lawyer David Bryant will fight for your right to fair compensation after a crash, and he will not allow the insurance company to diminish your claim. Contact David Bryant Law today for a free case evaluation and start your journey to fair compensation today.