Whiplash From a Car Accident
What to Know About a Whiplash
Let’s set a scene: you’re stopped at a red light. You’re wearing your seatbelt, have both hands on the wheel, and you’re not using your phone. Seems safe enough, right? But as the traffic light changes from red to green, you’re suddenly hit from behind by an overeager driver in a hurry. On impact, your head violently jerks back and then snaps forward. This is what you call a whiplash.
And it’s way more common than you might think. Based on a study conducted in 2016, whiplash has been identified as one of the most common neck injuries in an accident, especially for motorists. Moreover, the Harvard Health Letter wrote that more than a million Americans suffer neck injuries from whiplash each year.
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, which is also known as a neck strain or sprain. It can be identified based on the number of symptoms that may occur following a forceful impact to the neck, usually due to the sudden extension and flexion.
It does not require much strength and/or force to trigger a whiplash. Many neck injuries caused by an accident typically happen at speeds of 5 to 10 mph. Even though a whiplash is considered as a mild condition, it can still cause long-term pain and discomfort.
Everyone handles whiplash differently. Most people could feel better within days or weeks after the accident. However, others may endure serious medical injury. It mostly depends on the extent of the overextension of the soft tissues and ligaments in the neck. Moderate to severe whiplash can cause an individual to suffer from serious pain that may last for months or even years after the initial date of the injury. When a whiplash is the result of someone else’s negligence — like in the event of a traffic accident — it’s important to hold the at-fault driver accountable.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), neck sprains and strains are the most common injuries reported in accidents each year. Those who are tall, especially women, are more prone to a neck injury.
As aforementioned, sudden and forceful impact to the head can trigger a whiplash. An individual may quickly get thrown backward and forward, thus creating motion that can damage bones, such as those located in the spine, ligaments, nerves, disks between the bones, muscles, and other tissues in the neck.
A whiplash may result from:
- Car accidents. Whiplash commonly happens from a rear-end car accident.
- Physical abuse or assault. Whiplash may occur if a person is punched or shaken.
- Contact sports. Football tackles and other sports involving strong, physical impact could sometimes cause whiplash.
- Other types of traumas. An example of this is falling.
An individual who suffers from a whiplash may experience a variety of symptoms that can be long-term and/or difficult to diagnose. Symptoms, such as neck pain, may occur immediately after an accident or could be delayed for days, weeks, or even months later.
Other common symptoms may include:
- Neck stiffness
- Injuries to the muscles and ligaments (myofascial injuries)
- Abnormal sensations, such as burning or prickling (paresthesias)
- Shoulder or back pain
Moreover, individuals may suffer from somatic, psychological, or cognitive conditions, such as impairment, nervousness, lack of sleep, lack of concentration, and/or memory loss.
Most individuals who are under a treatment plan, such as taking prescribed medication and/or exercising, usually feel better within a few weeks. However, others may suffer from serious chronic pain and long-term conditions, which include limited range of motion and pain that travels to the arms.
Risk factors of a whiplash include:
- Experiencing whiplash more than once
- Older age
- Neck pain
- Low back pain
- A speeding accident
In any case, lingering symptoms of neck injury or whiplash should not be ignored. It’s important to seek medical treatment if the symptoms aren’t going away, especially if they’re preventing victims from doing everyday activities.
Usually, at-home remedies are used to treat mild to moderate cases of whiplash. This includes taking over-the-counter medication and icing the wounded area. Severe whiplash may require an individual to take painkillers and muscle relaxants to decrease muscle spasms.
Common symptoms of a severe whiplash include the following.
- Serious neck pain
- Neck pain stiffness
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, or shoulders
- Arm or leg weakness
- Bladder or bowel issues
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you must seek immediate medical attention from a physician.
Physical therapy is an important factor to incorporate in a treatment plan. Performing simple exercises will allow an individual with whiplash to build strength, flexibility, and good posture. It is also beneficial to practice relaxation techniques to prevent the neck muscles from straining.
How to Proceed With a Whiplash Claim
Your health and well-being are obviously the first priorities following a whiplash. However, a neck injury of this capacity can alter a person’s life. If a whiplash was caused by someone else’s negligence — like in the case of a rear-end car accident— it’s possible to seek proper compensation.
If you’ve experienced whiplash in a traffic accident and want to pursue an injury-related insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, it’s crucial to have documented medical evidence — such as treatment records and medical bills — for every injury you are claiming to ensure a satisfactory resolution to your case.
Only an attorney can accurately advise victims on the best course of action to pursue legal claims related to personal injuries and secure the best possible outcome. Consult with legal counsel to pursue your rights following a whiplash.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained a whiplash as a result of another driver’s carelessness, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. An auto accident attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.