In certain types of car accidents, two vehicles collide at high speeds, delivering quite a bit of force to the occupants and resulting in injuries. So how common is whiplash after a car accident? With a high-speed crash, whiplash occurs quite frequently, leading to significant neck pain and potentially debilitating injuries for victims.
According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash happens when the head and neck go through a rapid movement forward and then back, similar to the motion of a whip. Some people refer to whiplash as a serious neck sprain, as whiplash involves damage to the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper shoulder area.
Although whiplash can occur in almost any form of trauma involving the head and neck, such as in a sports injury or after a fall from height, doctors most frequently see whiplash connected to a car accident involving significant force.
Rear-End Collisions and Whiplash
The most common type of car crash that results in a whiplash injury is a rear-end crash. According to the , rear-end collisions account for about 46% of all two-vehicle crashes annually in the state.
Those involved in a rear-end accident often complain of injuries, accounting for about 23,500 injuries each year. However, fatalities are nowhere near as common in a rear-end collision as are injuries. Rear-end crashes account for about 42% of injuries in car crashes in the state, but only for about 11% of car-accident fatalities each year.
Why Whiplash Occurs in Rear-End Crashes
In a rear-end accident, one driver is usually stopped at a stoplight or stop sign, waiting for other traffic to clear. A driver approaching from the rear may not notice that the other driver is stopped right away, and by the time he or she notices, it is too late to stop.
If the driver approaching from the rear fails to slow enough, he or she will hit the stopped car violently. This can cause an occupant in the stopped car to have his or her head and neck snap back and forth quickly, resulting in injury. The force involved in the crash creates this whip-like action for the head, which strains the soft tissues in the neck.
A seat belt holds the torso in place, preventing it from snapping quickly. But the seat belt cannot hold the head and neck in place.
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Symptoms of Whiplash
Although you should visit a doctor soon after the crash to have your injuries fully diagnosed, some of the symptoms of whiplash that you may notice before seeing a doctor include:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Inability to move the neck or turn the head without severe pain
- Pain in the back of the neck, near the base of the skull
- Tingling and pain in the upper arms and shoulders
- Blurred vision
- Inability to sleep
- Memory problems.
Some of the symptoms of whiplash are similar to symptoms of a concussion or a traumatic brain injury. This makes sense because the violent whipping of the head and neck in the crash also could cause the brain to move back and forth inside the skull, resulting in a brain injury.
Visiting the Doctor
Because of the inability to move the head freely after a whiplash injury, you may not be able to work. If this happened to you in a crash in which the other driver was at fault, you have the right to seek damages for your lost wages.
To bring a personal injury claim, though, you will need to have documented injuries, including whiplash. If a doctor diagnoses you with whiplash and verifies that your injuries are debilitating enough that you cannot work, this will give you the evidence you need to seek a claim.
What You Can Do If You Have Whiplash
So how common is whiplash after a car accident? Because this type of neck injury is relatively frequent, doctors treating victims of car crashes will be on the lookout for its symptoms. Once the doctor determines you have suffered whiplash, he or she may order a few different types of treatments, according to the Cleveland Clinic, including:
- Prescription drugs, like muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories
- Stretching exercises
- Physical therapy
- Heat therapy
- Chiropractic manipulation
Although most people should see improvement in their whiplash symptoms after a few weeks, it is possible for the symptoms to linger for two or three months. If your symptoms do not seem to be improving, you could have long-term damage to the soft tissues and nerves in the neck.
In a case like this, where another driver hit you and caused your injuries, you deserve to receive compensation for your pain, suffering, and medical bills. Consider calling Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today at (404) 888-8888 for a free case review. We will work tirelessly to help you receive the fairest possible settlement in your personal injury case.