I Got Whiplash in a Work-Related Car Accident. What Do I Do?

When a car wreck occurs, the focus is often directed towards damage to the vehicles involved. Whiplash is an injury that, while common, is often overlooked.

If you suffer from whiplash caused by an automobile accident while on the job, you should consider filing a workers’ compensation claim. A whiplash injury sustained while driving a company vehicle within the normal scope of your job could mean that you can no longer work, even temporarily.

If you are left unable to work, could you continue to support your family?

Workplace accidents are commonplace. While states establish their own laws for workers’ compensation insurance, the coverage is rather consistent, and most employers are required to maintain the special insurance protection for their employees at no extra charge. If you have suffered whiplash in an accident while on the job, you can pursue a workers’ compensation claim against your employer to gain access to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance protects the employee and employer both in the event of workplace injuries or illnesses.

Workers’ compensation includes medical benefits, which cover the costs of treating the whiplash that you suffered in the workplace accident, and it also covers about two-thirds of your lost wages while you are unable to work and have medical excuses that indicate you are unable to perform your work duties. In some cases, depending on state law and the specific situation, workers’ compensation may cover the costs associated with vocational training if the employee is unable to return to the same job and must prepare for another kind of work.

Workers’ Compensation May Help You

Workers’ compensation is in place to help protect employees, like you, who are hurt during their job as a company driver. Companies are required by their state law to provide a worker’s compensation insurance policy.

It assists many injured employees with the cost of medical care, therapy, examinations, lab work, and follow-up appointments. In many cases, injured workers may qualify to receive a portion of their lost wages.

Speak to your supervisor or Human Resources representative to fill out a claim form and information regarding coverage through the company. They can provide you with a list of approved physicians.

Whiplash Workers' Comp Lawyer

Whiplash Injury

If you drive for a work related reason, you may be able to file a workers' comp claim for whiplash, even if you were not on company property and regardless of your fault in the accident.

This type of injury is typically associated with rear-end auto collisions. However, whiplash can occur during other types of auto collisions. Whiplash does not only occur during high-speed impacts, they can be caused by low speed and low impact collisions. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, seek medical attention:

  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Arm, shoulder, or back pain
  • Sensations that may be unusual (e.g., burning, tingling in arms, prickling)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of concentration
  • Other cognitive or psychological difficulties

Whiplash symptoms may not immediately appear. In many cases, whiplash symptoms may occur a few days after the initial injury.

If you have been in an auto collision, be aware of possible signs of whiplash injury.

The Process For Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim For Whiplash

If you have suffered whiplash in a workplace accident, you will need to properly file a claim that adheres to company policies as well as state guidelines. When you are involved in a workplace accident, the preservation of evidence and documentation is essential to the success of your case and proving that your whiplash was indeed caused by the accident you were involved in while on the job. As an example, you were making deliveries for your employer when you were struck by another vehicle from behind. The rear-end impact led to a severe case of whiplash that requires ongoing medical care and that has kept you out of work for weeks.

In this case scenario, the police will be called to complete an accident report. You will need to get a copy of that report for your records and to support your claim. However, your employer is still required to complete an accident report that will serve as the foundation for your workers’ compensation claim. Be as detailed and precise as possible when you give your statement and explain the accident to your manager or supervisor.

If you are physically able to do so, get photos of the accident scene. These photos can show that you were injured in the workplace accident, what happened, and how it happened. Also, ask any witnesses to provide written statements and be sure to get the names of any witnesses along with their contact details. Establish medical care right away so your injuries can be connected to the work-related accident. If your injuries are serious, go by ambulance to the nearest emergency room. If they aren’t as serious, and you are being transported by private vehicle, choose a provider from the list of approved in network workers’ compensation providers. If you don’t have a copy of this list, be sure to ask your employer for a copy.

It is important to tell your employer as soon as possible about the accident and about your injuries. There is a time limit for reporting an accident, and this could vary from a few days to as along as a year. If you miss the deadline, you will not be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim and get access to the workers’ compensation benefits that you would otherwise be entitled to receive during this time. State laws vary, so after your employer completes an accident report, they may go ahead and file the claim, or you may be responsible for sending the claim to the proper office within the state such as an oversight board.

Potential Settlement For A Workers’ Compensation Claim For Whiplash

Of course, no two workers’ compensation claims are the same. Your claim is dependent on your medical expenses, the time you will be off work, and the extent of your injuries and if you have a permanent disability. For example, you suffered whiplash in a work-related car crash. Your medical bills already total $8,500 and your physician says you will require ongoing care because your case is severe and may cause permanent damage.

Because of the severity of your injuries, you have already missed three months of work. Your regular salary is $3,000 per month, which means that you are out of $9,000 pay. Workers’ comp will cover two-thirds of your regular salary, which equals out to $6,030. Your employer expects you to miss at least another month of work, which would be $3,000. That totals out to $2,010. Your workers’ compensation payable lost wages at that point will total out to be $8,040. With the help of the treating physician, your employer and the workers’ comp insurance will determine how much your future medical expenses and future lost earnings will add up.

When the known medical expenses and lost wages are calculated, the total is $16,540. When future costs are calculated in for this specific claim, the damages could exceed $25,000. You will want to make sure all your damages are properly calculated, including future losses associated with the injury. Remember there is a statute of limitations, or a time limit, for pursuing your claim. If you wait until the deadline has passed, you cannot get a settlement or access workers’ compensation benefits.

Compensation Available Through a Workers' Comp Claim

There are many benefits available to you through worker’s compensation. It’s provided as a safety net to protect injured workers. It’s important to know that you may not qualify for all compensation available.

If you are not sure what compensation are available to you, speak with a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer. Here are examples of compensation you may qualify for:

  • Help with medical expenses. Even if you have private health insurance, there is no deductible that must be met for the insurance to take care of medical costs. If you sustain a whiplash injury while driving for your company, you may be eligible for assistance with the cost of x-rays, MRIs, medication, neck brace, physical therapy, and any other cost associated with the medical care you need.
  • Compensation of lost wages. Many employees may be entitled to receive a portion of their lost wages while they recover from a whiplash injury. There are guidelines in place regarding temporary and permanent disability payments.
  • Occupational training. If your whiplash injury leaves you permanently disabled and unable to continue working in your previous position, you may be eligible for occupational training. This type of training can help you learn new skills that can assist you when returning to work.

Consult With A Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you have suffered whiplash in a work-related accident, you should enlist the help of a workers’ compensation attorney who handles workplace injury cases in your area. An attorney will investigate your case and gather supporting evidence and documentation. Most workers’ comp lawyers take cases on the contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay anything out of pocket. Instead, your attorney is only compensated if, and when, your claim is won, and you get a settlement. At that point, the lawyer gets a pre-agreed percentage of your settlement.