Spine and neck injuries, including whiplash, are the most prevalent ailments associated with auto collisions. Just how common is whiplash after a car accident? According to the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, about three million whiplash injuries occur in the U.S. annually.
Most whiplash results from auto accidents, especially rear-end collisions. It can also occur from sports injuries, physical abuse, or falling from a height.
What Is Whiplash?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck, sometimes referred to as a neck sprain or strain.
Mayo Clinic explains that it occurs when the neck is rapidly and forcefully jolted back and forth in a motion akin to a cracking whip. Trauma can affect the neck, including the muscles, ligaments, joints, discs, and nerves.
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What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash After a Car Accident?
Whiplash symptoms may present immediately or after several days, according to the NINDS.
According to NINDS and Mayo Clinic, whiplash symptoms can include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Headache, usually starting at the skull base
- Shoulder or back pain
- Burning or prickling sensations
- Inability to turn the neck without severe discomfort
- Confusion or memory loss
- Irritability or depression
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Blurred vision
- Tingling in the arms
- Sleep difficulty
Some symptoms are the same as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the two conditions can coincide. TBIs are also very common in car crashes because the same force that jerks the neck back and forth can shake the brain within the skull.
What Are the Long-Term Implications of Car Accident Whiplash?
Minor whiplash cases can resolve within a few days, but severe conditions can last much longer. The injury can reduce muscle and tendon strength and cause inflammation and spasms. Unaddressed whiplash can result in chronic pain and an increased risk of re-injury.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Victim of Whiplash?
A doctor may recommend rehabilitation, including physical therapy, gentle stretches and range of motion exercises, cervical traction, chiropractic care, or acupuncture to prevent this.
To address immediate pain and stiffness, a doctor may prescribe heat and cold therapy, pain medications, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatory drugs. They may also recommend wearing a cervical collar for two to three weeks to stabilize the neck, giving it a chance to heal.
For severe cases, a doctor may recommend epidural steroid injections or radiofrequency ablation.
When Should I See a Doctor After Sustaining Whiplash Caused By a Car Accident?
You should always see a doctor for a medical evaluation as soon as possible after a car crash, even if you are not certain you have any injuries. Some conditions, including whiplash and TBIs, are not always immediately apparent. In the latter case, receiving prompt medical care could prevent or reduce long-term harm or even save your life.
A timely medical diagnosis also provides crucial evidence if you need to seek compensation for losses related to your injuries. This is true whether you seek coverage from your insurance provider or pursue damages from the other driver via an insurance claim or personal injury suit.
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Why Is Whiplash Common in Car Accidents?
Whiplash is so common in car accidents because when vehicles collide, they exert substantial force. In rear-end accidents, specifically, this force can propel occupants forward, causing the head and neck to whip back and forth. While the seat belt holds the torso in place, it does not secure the head or neck.
The speed at which the collision occurs will affect the impact and force to which the victims are subjected. In high-speed crashes, occupants’ heads and necks may jolt back and forth multiple times, increasing the risk of more serious long-term injury.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Get for a Whiplash Injury?
If you suffered injuries in an accident where another driver is at fault, you have a right to pursue compensation for your losses. Many types of compensation are associated with car crashes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Past and anticipated medical bills
- Medications and medical assistive devices (such as a neck brace)
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care and related rehabilitative treatments
- Lost wages if you are unable to work because of your injuries
- Emotional pain and suffering
In most cases, victims pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, if your losses exceed their coverage limits, you might wish to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the remaining damages.
Let a Lawyer Support You in Pursuing Compensation
Pursuing compensation for whiplash and other car accident injuries is not easy. It involves a complex and time-consuming legal process that is challenging to navigate alone without training and expertise. Your car accident lawyer can help.
If you live in the greater Atlanta area, let the Bader Scott Injury Lawyers team support you in pursuing the compensation you need and deserve. Call (404) 888-8888 to speak with a staff member to discuss your case today. We do not have an average whiplash settlement figure available, but we can assign a value to your specific case.