Can I Recover Damages for Whiplash After a Car Accident?
If you were struck by a drunk, distracted, or otherwise reckless driver and your neck has been hurting ever since, you might have sustained whiplash in the impact. A soft tissue injury, whiplash is caused by a violent jerking of the head and neck, which frequently occurs during motor-vehicle collisions.
Characterized by damaged muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck and shoulders, whiplash can cause debilitating pain and immobilizing stiffness. Other symptoms include headaches that start at the base of the skull and numbness or tingling in the arms. Fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, tinnitus, memory problems, and sleep disturbances are also common symptoms.
Even a mild case of whiplash can derail a person’s life. With the right legal strategy, though, it may be possible to recover compensation for the associated medical bills, lost income, and other damages.
In the state of Florida, car accident victims who sustain whiplash may be entitled to the following damages if their case meets the “serious injury” threshold:
- Healthcare expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future earnings;
- Property damage;
- Alternative transportation;
- Domestic help;
- Child care;
- Other economic damages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and
- Loss of enjoyment in life.
If the liable party’s conduct constituted gross negligence—if he or she got behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example—claimants may also be entitled to a punitive award. Whereas compensatory damages essentially reimburse car accident victims for their losses, punitive damages aim to punish defendants for their behavior and to deter such conduct in the future.
In Florida car accident cases, punitive awards are generally capped at $500,000 or three times the total compensatory damages, whichever is greater. It’s important to note, however, that punitive damages cannot be awarded against government entities.
How Long Do I Have to Seek Compensation for My Whiplash-Related Damages?
Florida’s standard statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is four years. That means most car accident victims have four years from the date on which they were hurt to file suit, or their case will almost certainly be dismissed.
Since there are a number of exceptions to this filing deadline, though, it’s wise to consult an attorney as soon as your condition stabilizes. If it turns out a government agency was to blame for the wreck, for example, you must submit a written request for compensation and allow for a 180-day investigation before you can file suit.
If the agency denies your claim upon completing their investigation, you must file your lawsuit before three years have passed. For cases involving wrongful death, though, the deadline is shortened to just two years.
Call 727-845-5972 to Discuss Your Case with a Tampa Bay Car Accident Attorney
If you were hurt in a car accident through no fault of your own, contact Nicoletti Law Firm to determine the most strategic way to proceed. We combine the knowledge and resources of a large practice with the personal touch of a small firm. Call 727-845-5972 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a Port Richey car accident lawyer.