What is the Average Payout for Soft Tissue Injury?
The average payout of a soft tissue injury ranges from $2,500 to $10,000 for whiplash, $15,000 for ankle sprains, $20,000 for shoulder injuries, and $100,000 to $350,000 for herniated discs. It is important to note, however, that individual cases can vary wildly, which is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys do not charge upfront for their services, but rather, take a percentage out of the total settlement or jury award – which will undoubtedly leave you with more than you would have received filing pro se.
Why soft tissue cases are difficult to value
There are many factors that make soft tissue cases uniquely difficult to pursue:
- Failure to seek immediate medical attention – When you break a bone, there is no “wait and see” approach. You are going to the hospital immediately. Soft tissue injuries, on the other hand, can seem relatively minor at first and worsen in the coming weeks or even months down the road when swelling resides and stiffness sets in.
- Lack of medical evidence – Unlike hard injuries — which are clearly visible with diagnostic imaging like CAT scans, X-rays, and MRIs — complications of healing like inflammation or immune response are not so obvious or easy to predict.
- Direct causation – The other side will likely try to say your present injuries are related to some type of “prior medical condition,” an old accident, or chronic workplace stress injury. Unfortunately, many people have tried to game the system with fraudulent soft tissue injury claims, which makes it difficult for legitimate claims to proceed.
- Complex treatment – Fixing a person with surgery or direct fixation is more straightforward than a year’s worth of patient compliance, activity restrictions, physical therapy, and other treatments.
Through meticulous documentation, expert testimony, and aggressive legal strategy, you can obtain maximum benefits to cover your expenses in the past, present, and future.
Insurers “got tough” on soft tissue 20 years ago
Over the past few decades, insurers have made it their policy to deny most soft tissue claims and restrict the negotiation ability of individual adjusters. Even in cases of clear liability, adjusters are trained to make the lowest possible initial settlement offer. Adjusters may only have the authority to make one additional offer before the case file is sent to defense counsel to prepare for litigation. The rigidity of this system has led many personal injury law firms to pass over soft tissue cases due to the low payouts.
Worse yet, the early evaluation of a soft tissue injury leaves little room to consider how the plaintiff may be impacted in the future if the injury does not heal according to the initial prognosis. In one meta-analysis of 31 ankle injury studies, up to 64% of patients had not fully healed within three years. Half of the patients encountered instability, 34% of patients re-sprained their ankles, and one-third of patients suffered from residual pain.
Insurance providers typically use an industry-guarded computer scoring system to come up with the initial offer. For instance, Allstate uses Colossus, which factors in a number of variables – the type of injury, your geographic location, and similar settlements/verdicts. What the computer doesn’t factor in are the individual complexities – how you perceive pain, what line of work you do, what other conditions may be exacerbated, for instance.
Should you go to trial or accept an offer for soft tissue injury?
Think of it this way: if the insurer’s system worked so well, there would be no need for personal injury lawyers. The reality is that a computer will never provide the thoughtful deliberation of a human mind. With a rock-solid case, we might see a typical “low-ball” Colossus offer of $6,500 and some odd change, which might increase to $12,000 – $15,000 upon the second offer if there are significant property damage and no prior medical history. However, an ideal scenario like that could easily fetch $800,000 at trial when lifestyle and future pain and suffering are taken into account.
It’s not quick or easy to push for a trial, but a jury will provide the compassionate approach you deserve in measuring your losses. Understandably, the emotional ordeal of a jury trial isn’t for everyone. If, on the other hand, your case has minor property damage and significant prior medical history, settling for $7,500 and $10,000 rather than going to trial may be the right road.
Convincing the jury to award full compensation
Trials are not slam-dunks for soft tissue injuries either. The unfair assumption that whiplash is “a minor ache” persists. Jurors must be able to clearly see the world through the eyes of the plaintiff, view the plaintiff as a credible witness, and recognize the loss of enjoyment in life in light of this new injury. The best personal injury lawyers spend time getting to know their clients and groom the clients for trial. They let clients know about the risks involved with trial versus negotiating a settlement. They look at the medical documentation, accident scene photos, and other tangible evidence, but they are also masters of persuasion in considering the subjective factors that change a plaintiff’s life, potentially forever.
Our Ellis Law team litigated one case where a couple was involved in a heavy rear-impact collision on the 10 freeway at Yucaipa Boulevard in Redlands. After the airbags deployed forcefully, the husband was left with soft tissue injuries amounting to $10,000 in medical bills. The wife was treated for soft tissue injuries but developed intercostal neuralgia – a severe pain condition affecting her abdomen, neck, and lower back. She saw a pain management specialist for months, undergoing nerve blocks and ablation procedures to manage her condition.
The defendant worked for the County of San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office. The team enlisted the help of neurologists and billing experts to dispute the medical expenses. Our team at Ellis brought in coworkers, the couple’s children, the family practitioner, psychologist, pain management specialist, an orthopedic expert, a well-known accident reconstructionist, a bio-mechanic, and an impartial billing expert.
The County of San Bernardino initially offered $120,000 to settle. Days before trial, they increased this offer to $375,000. The lawyers at Ellis Law sought $965,000 in our lawsuit filing but lowered the amount to $550,000 at the clients’ request. Ultimately, Judge Michael Sachs ordered the county to pay our clients an extraordinary sum of $2.4 million. This outcome is, by no means, “average” — but demonstrates what is possible with a strong legal team on your side.
If you or a loved one in Southern California have sustained a soft tissue injury within the past two years, don’t let the insurance company discredit or diminish your suffering. Contact Ellis Injury Law Los Angeles personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.