Most of us have heard the term whiplash. Frequently it brings to mind images of a person wearing a large padded collar to hold his neck in place. But is there more about whiplash we need to know?
What Is It?
In fact, whiplash is no laughing matter and can be a very serious injury. As suggested by the name, whiplash is an injury to the neck. It is caused when the head is thrown backward, forward, or side‑to‑side by an unexpected and sudden impact. This type of impact can also cause a neck sprain. That is an injury that occurs when the ligaments in the neck are overstretched due to the strong jolt from the impact.
Whiplash can occur whenever a person's head or neck is violently whipped around. Examples include, playing sports or in a fall. The most common cause of whiplash is an auto accident. Whiplash is frequently the only injury that a person in a car accident suffers. Why? If the person is properly belted in, his or her head and neck are the only parts of the body that will move very much, but they will move violently.
Like many injuries, the effects of whiplash can vary from mild to severe. At its mildest, whiplash will cause short‑term stiffness or soreness. More serious cases can make it impossible to turn one's neck or possibly affect one's ability to walk. At its worst, whiplash can cause long‑term debility because of severe headaches, muscle spasms, pain, and paresthesia, a numbness or tingling in the extremities. The treatment of whiplash will vary with the severity of symptoms, ranging from rest to chiropractic care to physical therapy.
The whiplash symptoms may worsen hours or even days after the accident. Doctors speculate that this delay occurs because the adrenaline released under the stress of the collision masks the pain until the adrenaline starts wearing off.
See a Doctor Immediately
Because there can be a delay of onset of whiplash symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a collision. This is critical because it allows a professional to examine you and, if necessary, initiate treatment. The examination will also document symptoms that you feel are related to the collision. A delay between the collision and treatment allows the other driver's insurance company to argue that you don't actually have whiplash or that it was caused by something other than the accident.
Treatment by a doctor is necessary to provide the proper care for your injuries. It also makes it easier for you to prove the connection between your neck pain and the accident. In order to recover for an injury, you have to prove that the injury was either caused or made worse by the collision. Such proof requires a doctor's diagnosis. A good doctor will document your symptoms, the treatment necessary to treat the whiplash, and the likely cause. This makes it easier for you or your lawyer to “connect the dots” and prove that the car accident caused the whiplash.
If you have suffered whiplash in an accident that is not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. This compensation can include the cost of the medical care necessary to treat the whiplash and lost wages suffered because you were unable to work due to your injuries. You might also get compensation for your pain and suffering.
Obviously, the amount you can recover will vary depending on the severity of your injuries and the length of time that you are debilitated by the whiplash. It is important to remember that the possible delay in the appearance of whiplash symptoms means that you should resist the temptation to take the first offer the other driver's insurance company makes. This could be an offer that seems generous at first but it may turn out to be far less than the cost of your medical care.
What do you do if you suspect you have suffered a serious case of whiplash? The first step is to seek medical help, then contact our firm. We can help you evaluate the facts and determine whether you have a claim, and then make the claim within the limited time allowed. With our guidance, you will receive all of the compensation that you deserve.
For more information on auto accidents and whiplash visit the Worthington Law Group website.