Whiplash—a term that's used to describe a variety of neck sprains and strains—is one of the most common types of car accident injuries.
In the United States, whiplash is also the most frequently reported injury in insurance claims, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Whiplash injuries occur when the body is propelled forward with force, while the neck and head and are thrown back and forth, like a whip. Though whiplash injuries are particularly common among victims of rear-end crashes, these types of injuries can be sustained in almost any kind of forceful automobile collision, as well as in sports accidents, violent incidents, and other forms of physical trauma.
While whiplash injuries may sound relatively minor, without the proper treatment, their effects can last for months or even years. If you or a loved one suffered whiplash injuries in a car accident caused by another motorist's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation.
However, obtaining compensation in whiplash cases can sometimes be a challenge. If you're considering taking legal action against the motorist who caused your whiplash, here's what you need to know.
Whiplash Symptoms and Treatments
In many cases, the effects of whiplash can be felt immediately following the accident. However, sometimes it can take up to 24 hours for accident victims to develop signs and symptoms.
Common whiplash symptoms can include:
- Neck pain and stiffness that worsens with movement
- Impaired range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, particularly those that start at the base of the skull
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms
- Pain or tenderness in the arms, upper back, or shoulders
- Blurred vision and other visual disturbances
- Jaw pain
- Ringing in the ears
In extreme cases, accident victims may be diagnosed with the more serious Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) which, in addition to the above symptoms, may also cause:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Dependency on narcotic pain relievers
Fortunately, a number of treatments are available to help victims control their pain and restore their normal range of motion, including over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription pain medications and muscle relaxers, numbing injections, stretching and other movement exercises, and physical therapy.
Building a Strong Claim or Case
Compensation is never a guarantee in personal injury cases. However, there are a few things accident victims can do to bolster their claims or cases in the eyes of the insurance adjuster, or judge and jury, such as:
- Seek immediate medical treatment. Whiplash injuries aren't always readily apparent after a crash. A doctor who's trained to treat accident victims can often spot and document whiplash injuries that the victim might not notice for a day or two.
- Carefully document related medical expenses. Whether or not a victim plans to file an insurance claim or lawsuit, documenting all whiplash-related medical expenses is essential if he or she hopes to recoup losses.
- File the insurance claim or lawsuit as soon as possible. The longer a victim waits to take legal action, the easier it is for insurance adjusters and other people to doubt the severity of the injuries.
Unique Challenges in Whiplash Claims and Cases
Accident victims seeking compensation for whiplash injuries face a rather unique challenge in that, thanks to years of whiplash being portrayed on television as a fake or exaggerated injured exploited by hucksters looking for a quick payday, many people have become suspicious of people claiming such injuries.
As a result, some personal injury attorneys have stopped using the term “whiplash” in favor of medically technical terms, such as neck sprain or strain, hyperextension/hyperflexion injury, cervical strain or sprain, or myofascial injury.
Were You Injured in a Car Accident?
If you sustained whiplash injuries in an accident that wasn't your fault, Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact Sevenish Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.