Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft Tissue Injuries: Proving You Have a Pain in the Neck

We've all seen the old TV shows that feature fake whiplash injuries. It's the big courtroom scene. The "victim" testifies with his neck in a brace and wins his case, then takes off the brace and throws away the cane as soon as he has leaves the courtroom.

It's a stereotype that has complicated the claim process for whiplash and other soft tissue injuries, such as muscle tears, sprains and strains, nerve damage, and deep muscle bruises. Direct evidence of soft tissue injuries is difficult as such imaging tests as x-rays and CT scans do not reveal muscle trauma, and insurers find it easy to suggest that a plaintiff is exaggerating the extent of a soft tissue injury. Therefore, thorough documentation of the injury is vital for an insurance claim and potential lawsuit.

 

Here we outline some of the components that go into obtaining compensation for a soft tissue injury.

Proving You Have a Soft Tissue Injury

Broken bones quickly show up on an x-ray. Unfortunately soft tissue injuries do not appear on x-rays and may take up to 24 to 72 hours--or longer—to manifest themselves after an accident. If not treated, they can become debilitating and chronic.

Twenty-four to 72 hours may be long after you stated to the police or to the insurance company that you are "OK." A rule of thumb: if you are in an accident, avoid saying, "I'm OK" right after the incident. "I don't know" is a better answer, as well as more accurate. Most people are jolted by an accident and are in at least a mild state of shock. Reliable self-analysis of physical health is almost impossible at the scene of an accident.

Many insurance companies will suspect fraud if you report pain that is not accompanied by incontrovertible proof of a physical injury—especially if you have already told the insurance company that you are OK. A jury also is unlikely to believe on faith that you suffer a soft tissue injury without some form of documentation.

Without that hard-to-refute evidence of an x-ray or CT scan, insurance companies and defense attorneys can make a variety of arguments why you are not injured as you claim you are. This is why it is critical that if you begin to have symptoms that you seek medical treatment for a soft tissue injury immediately. Not only will your doctors help you begin to recover, but their medical records are evidence of an injury.

When you see the doctor, tell him or her exactly what happened to you inside the car upon impact and when your symptoms started. Under Illinois law, in the Baranick decision, which Valerie Harris Adler successfully argued before the Appellate Court, it was ruled that photographs showing little or no damage to a car cannot be introduced into evidence without a bio-mechanical expert witness. Likewise, pictures of serious vehicle damage cannot be used to show how badly you were injured. That is why what happened to you upon impact and the time and type of symptoms you experience is critical. It is imperative that your doctor knows and documents these facts—the initial history you give for a soft tissue injury can make or break your case.

Attorneys Work for You

Insurance company defense attorneys are committed to minimizing compensation. In the case of soft tissue injuries, having an experienced injury attorney, such as Mark Adler or Valerie Harris Adler, working on your behalf is vital to obtaining the financial compensation you deserve for your neck, knee, shoulder, or other soft tissue injury. Be sure to call us at (312) 443-1488 immediately after any accident that may be the fault of another. We will help you understand what you need to do to obtain compensation for any possible soft tissue injuries.

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