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After a car accident, you're probably most concerned with your health and safety, not necessarily with compensation for your whiplash injury. But injuries can be costly and you will need to act promptly to get the ball rolling with your insurance company to get help covering medical expenses.
In many states, drivers are required to carry insurance and accident claims are settled under no-fault law, meaning that no one is blamed for the accident and compensation is unrelated to fault. These laws minimize accident litigation and make relatively straightforward claims easy to settle. But wherever you are, when the injury is serious or insurers refuse you coverage, consider litigation. Let's look at first steps and your last resort.
Step One: Insurance Claim
Even if you don't feel seriously injured, go see a doctor and get examined. You should already have called your insurer immediately after the accident, so presumably they are aware of this crash and your claim generally. This is when you address the specifics.
Whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries do not necessarily manifest immediately, but they can have long-term consequences that can be very costly and become more severe with time. Once you have seen a doctor, if a whiplash or other soft-tissue injury is discovered, inform your insurer. Individual policies and state laws all differ, so make sure you're familiar with what your policy covers.
Your insurance company will let you know what kind of documentation it needs from your doctor and whether it will authorize any suggested alternative treatments. In the worst case scenario, if the insurer is denying your claim or your doctor anticipates a lifetime of treatment that will exceed policy limits, then speak to a lawyer about litigation options.
Last Resort: Litigation
Collecting compensation after a whiplash injury stemming from a car accident should be a relatively straightforward process. In most cases, this kind of claim is precisely what insurance was designed for. But sometimes insurers are unwilling to provide as much coverage as needed, or costs expected to be associated with an injury exceed policy limits, and accident victims seek compensation through litigation.
If you were injured in a car accident and are concerned about making an insurance claim or have already been denied and need guidance on next steps, talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to help.