Soft tissue injuries refer to a wide range of different injuries to various parts of your body where are tissues (as opposed to bones). Soft tissue injuries typically involve damage and bruising to the muscles, ligaments or tendons in your body. One of the most common examples of this kind of injury is a condition that is commonly called whiplash in layman's terms. That particular condition refers to injury to the soft tissues of the neck.
When a soft tissue injury occurs, it can cause significant pain and impairment. The damage and pain might subside within a reasonably short period of time or may persist and result in a significant and detrimental impact on your ability to work or to enjoy life. Unfortunately, because soft tissue injuries can be hard to prove (they don't show up on an x-ray like broken bones, for example) and also hard to quantify, many dishonest people have claimed soft tissue injuries that do not exist. Car accident insurers are, thus, wary of any claims for soft tissue injuries and may deny a claim or refuse to pay compensation that is deserved for a soft tissue injury.
Proving a Soft Tissue Injury
When you suffer a soft tissue injury, if you hope to recover compensation through either your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or from the insurance company of a party responsible for your accident, you are going to need to prove the injury exists. This is true if you want to settle a case, since an insurance company isn't going to make you a settlement offer for an injury they don't believe is real. This is also true if you want to win a case in court, as a jury or judge needs to see solid proof of an injury's existence before they will award damages for it. The more solid and conclusive the proof of your injury is, the better your chances of being able to win a lawsuit or negotiate a fair settlement.
So, how do you prove that the injury really exists?
- Get medical help immediately after the accident happened: If you delay for a period of time, then this can be used against you in two ways. First, the party or insurance company who you are trying to collect from can assert that the injury was caused by something else that happened after the accident. After all, why not go to the hospital right away if the injury was from that? Second, they could also assert that you decided after the fact to make the injury seem worse just for compensation, since if you really were hurt, you'd have gotten help immediately.
- Take pictures at the scene and of the injuries: If you can show the destruction that happened to your vehicle, then this can provide a visual explanation for what also likely happened to your body upon impact. When a vehicle is damaged and broken, the jury or insurance company is more likely to believe your body was also damaged and harmed by the collision. Plus, pictures of frightening accident scenes can make a jury more sympathetic, and since insurers are well aware of the sympathy factor, it will make an insurer more eager to settle.
- Get a doctor's statement or statements from an expert witnesses: If you have one or more experienced and qualified physicians explaining your soft tissue injury diagnosis, it is going to be harder for an insurance company or jury to deny that the injury is real.
- Keep track of the injury's impact on your life: If you have detailed records of how and when the soft tissue injury has affected you, this can go a long way towards proving the injury is real and towards proving the extent of compensation you should receive for it. Don't hesitate to also let friends and family know about just how your soft tissue injury is impacting your life, as they may be called upon to be witnesses for you in the case.
- Keep detailed treatment records: People who are really in pain want to get help for and treat that painful condition. If you can show you are taking actual steps to get treatment for your soft tissue injury, this can legitimize the claim a little by showing the jury or the insurer of the potential defendant that you are taking the steps necessary to try to get better.
Perhaps the single best and most important thing you can do after a soft tissue injury is to speak with a qualified attorney. Your lawyer can help you understand why proving a soft tissue injury is so complex and can assist you in gathering any and all evidence available that will help convince the insurer or the judge/jury that you really do have a legitimate claim.