What’s a reasonable pain-and-suffering payout for a mild case of whiplash?

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What’s a reasonable pain-and-suffering payout for a mild case of whiplash?

My wife and I were rear-ended at low speed (no airbag deployment) by a commercial vehicle in heavy traffic. It popped our heads pretty good, and we have both suffered ongoing soreness, stiffness and lost sleep. While we did seek medical advice (treat with NSAIDs and heating pads and give it time). We have not sought treatment nor incurred any medical expenses. Other driver’s insurer dangled the prospect of a payout for “pain and inconvenience” but lowballed us ($100 apiece). Under these circumstances, what would be truly reasonable compensation?

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Personal Injury, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Every case is different, so there is no real way to say what's reasonable. That said, somewhere between $100 and $250 each is probably reasonable. The problem for you is fourfold:

1) You can't prove much, if anything, about the injuries without more medical treatment, tests, consultations, etc. than you seem to have had.

2) As a very rough rule of thumb, pain and suffering is usually around 1 - 3 times the medical costs (3 times for obviously the more serious cases). You have not medical costs to provide a benchmark.

3) Intuitively, if you didn't get medical treatment, it would seem to many or most that the injuries had to be very minor--or surely you would have sought more treatment.

4) As you note, the collision was not even enough to deply the airbags.

In short, it's hard to make a case for pain and suffering in these circumstances.


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