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What to Expect in Car Accident Settlements for a Neck and Back Injury

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

The spinal cord is the backbone of your central nervous system, so a blow to the neck or spine can be disabling or even fatal. Unfortunately, these injuries can occur in a car crash, such as a rear-end collision on your daily commute. Approximately 38% of spinal cord injuries result from a car accident.

Many car accident victims who have sustained these serious injuries file a claim against the negligent driver for compensation. However, if you’re considering a claim, you may wonder what the process entails and if the settlement will cover your damages.

Learn what to expect when seeking a car accident settlement for a neck or back injury and how the car accident attorneys with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you maximize your compensation.

Can I Sue the Other Driver for a Neck or Back Injury?

Filing a claim against another driver is complicated because Michigan is a no-fault state. That means that both drivers involved in a car accident will be paid a settlement by their own insurance first. However, if your damages exceed the state’s severe injury threshold, you can file a third-party claim for additional compensation.

You Must File with Your Insurance First

Under Michigan’s no-fault statute, you must seek compensation from your auto insurance provider before filing a claim with a negligent driver. All drivers in Michigan must carry three specific coverage policies in compliance with no-fault laws. These policies include:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which covers medical expenses
  • Property Protection, which covers damage to all property other than moving vehicles
  • Bodily Injury/Property Damage (BI/PD), which pays the other driver if they file a claim against you

When You Can File Against the Other Driver

When filing a claim against the other driver, you often do not file against the driver; instead, you file a claim with their insurance company and are compensated from the driver’s BI/PD coverage. BI/PD coverage is designed to cover your financial damages and allows you to pursue compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Since much of your financial losses are covered by your insurance, there are additional requirements to file a claim against the other driver. The driver’s actions must have led to the accident and:

  • You have become permanently disabled or disfigured by your injuries
  • You have reached the limits of your PIP coverage and still have outstanding medical expenses
  • The other driver is not insured, or the driver is insured in a state other than Michigan

Speak with a car accident attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. to help you understand your insurance coverage and legal options following a severe injury accident. Our legal team can gather your medical records, including X-rays, tests, or diagnoses, to determine if your spinal injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold.

What to Do After Suffering a Neck or Back Injury in a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident and suffer a back or neck injury, taking the proper steps can help you win compensation. For example, getting immediate medical attention and documenting your injuries can help your attorney support your claim and get you a fair settlement.

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

If you suspect you’ve suffered any form of spine or neck injury, call 911 and seek emergency medical attention. Damage to the spinal cord can lead to lifelong nerve damage or paralysis.

Even if you do not believe you’ve been injured, seek medical care after the accident. Whiplash symptoms, for instance, may not present immediately after the accident. Waiting too long to seek medical care can cause your injuries to worsen and harm your ability to recover compensation from the other driver later.

File an Accident Report

Contact the police and file an accident report as soon as possible after the collision. Under Michigan law, you must report accidents that result in injury, death or more than $1,000 in property damage to the nearest police station or convenient police officer immediately after the incident.

Officers will come to the collision scene and record objective information such as witness statements, weather and traffic conditions, and potentially observe who was at fault. You can use this report to help you file a claim for compensation against a negligent driver.

Document Your Injuries and Damages

Your insurance provider will request proof of medical expenses related to your injuries. You will need to provide them with documentation from the medical professionals or practices that treated you.

Keep all records of medical care you receive from the hospital, your primary care provider, or physical therapist, including bills, treatment plans, prescriptions, X-rays, and CT scans, to share with your attorney and submit for your insurance claim.

In addition to medical records and billing, document damages to your physical property, like your car or any items inside your car. Although you may not need to provide these to your insurance company, you can use them later when filing a claim against the at-fault driver.

Consult an Attorney

If you suffer a back, neck, or spinal cord injury in a car accident, speak with an attorney from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. When you contact our firm after an accident, we can investigate your case, gather evidence of your injury, and file a claim against the party who caused your accident.

Our skilled injury lawyers will draft a persuasive demand letter to send to the insurance company, seeking maximum compensation for your physical and emotional injuries. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair payout, we will represent your interests in court in a personal injury lawsuit.

Expected Coverage Under Your Insurance Policy

By default, Michigan insurers provide unlimited PIP coverage unless you opt out. While specific coverage details depend on your insurance policy, you can typically expect your insurer to cover the following.

Medical Bills Related to the Accident

PIP insurance will cover medical treatment for injuries sustained in the accident, including neck and back injuries. If you have unlimited coverage, this will last for the rest of your life or until your injury heals. Otherwise, coverage will continue until you reach the maximum limit allowed under your policy.

Three Years’ Worth of Lost Wages

In addition to your medical treatment, PIP insurance will compensate you for wages lost when you cannot work. Compensation for lost wages only lasts three years, even if you have unlimited PIP coverage.

Medical Aides

If your injury makes living independently or caring for yourself difficult, you will require a medical caretaker to help you. PIP insurance covers the cost of a medical caretaker or assistant. Coverage for a caretaker is limited to 56 hours per week, even if you have unlimited PIP coverage.

Medical Aides

What Damages Can I Recover from the Other Driver?

If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you may be able to recover damages, such as:

Medical Expenses

If you do not have unlimited PIP coverage and exhaust your policy’s coverage while paying for your medical treatment, you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance to cover further expenses.

You may be able to recover the cost of any medical treatment you receive as a result of the accident, such as cervical spine injuries, herniated disc problems, or soft tissue injuries. Visits to the emergency room, hospital stays, surgery, and physical therapy should all be covered.

Lost or Unearned Wages

While PIP coverage will compensate you for up to three years’ worth of lost wages, spinal cord injuries can result in chronic pain or paralysis, permanently preventing you from returning to work. If your injury does not allow you to return to work after this time, you can seek compensation for your lost wages from the at-fault driver.

Pain and Suffering

The physical pain resulting from neck or back injuries can be severe or chronic, both of which are difficult to treat. You may also suffer significant emotional pain after the accident, which may or may not be related to your physical injuries. For instance, if you developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the accident, your attorney can help you file a claim for pain and suffering.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Your injuries, disabilities, or pain can impose significant limitations on your lifestyle. For example, you may be unable to engage in hobbies you enjoy or be involved in family activities like you used to be. In this situation, your attorney can help you obtain damages for loss of enjoyment of life.

What to Expect from Your Attorney

When you work with the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., you can expect a skilled team of legal representatives who fight for your rights through every stage of your case.

Document Your Damages

The other driver’s insurance or attorney may attempt to downplay your injuries or claim that you’re exaggerating. However, attorneys who have taken on car accident cases are often familiar with neck and back injuries, their prognosis, and the extent of treatment they require.

Your lawyer can gather evidence that you’re being truthful about the extent of your injuries. For example, they can prevent X-rays and CT or MRI scans showing damage to your neck or spinal cord. Eileen Kroll, Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. senior partner and registered nurse can carefully review your medical test results to determine the severity of your injuries and their cause.

Find Proof of Liability

Proving liability, or fault, in a car accident is crucial to recover damages from the other driver. One way to find proof of liability is by gathering evidence at the scene of the accident, such as photos of the damage to the vehicles, skid marks, and any other physical evidence.

Additionally, your attorney will gather contact and insurance information from the other driver and any witnesses and obtain a copy of the accident report, which includes information about the drivers involved, the circumstances of the accident, and any citations issued.

Your attorney can also find proof of liability by reviewing traffic laws that may have been violated by the other driver and consulting with others, such as accident reconstructionists or medical experts. They can help you document any injuries you sustained in the accident through medical records and treatment and present the evidence in court or to the insurance company.

File Your Claim with the Other Driver’s Insurance

While you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance on your own, you are likely trying to adjust to life with a neck or spine injury. Your attorney can take over the claims process and file with the other driver’s insurance so that you can focus on recovering from the accident and adapting to the effects of your injuries.

Having your attorney file your claim also protects you from unscrupulous practices by the other driver’s insurance. Some accident victims have been tricked by the other driver’s insurer into signing away their right to file a claim. However, once you have a lawyer, the other driver’s insurance cannot communicate with you directly; they must speak with your lawyer.

Negotiate with Insurance Providers

The average settlement amount for back and neck injuries is often lower than the injured party deserves due to insurance companies misleading victims into accepting minimal offers. Your attorney can help you understand the true value of your claim and negotiate for a fair injury settlement amount. We can calculate the total cost of your injuries, including life-long impacts that increase the compensation you’re owed.

Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have won large settlements for auto accident victims, including $400,000 in no-fault benefits for attendant care expenses for a paralyzed Michigan woman.

Speak With Car Accident Attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.

If you have sustained a neck or spine injury in a car accident, the attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you pursue a fair settlement claim. We will review the facts of your case, estimate the total cost of your damages, and work with you to recover a fair settlement.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Riley Emerson is a freelance writer whose work focuses on improving legal accessibility and justice. He enjoys relating complex legal issues in a straightforward way, so people can get the legal help they need.



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