Many people may be surprised to learn that even minor car accidents, with vehicles moving at low speeds, can cause whiplash and other injuries. In fact, many car accident victims experience symptoms of whiplash but may not seek medical treatment for days or weeks after the onset. Learn more about whiplash and what to do if you think you have whiplash from a car accident.
Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “whiplash happens when structures in your neck, including discs, ligaments, nerves or muscles, are damaged.” In a car accident, especially one in which you are hit from behind, the intense force causes your neck to flex and extend which in turn creates the damage to one or many delicate muscles or bones of the neck. Symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Neck pain
- Muscle spasm
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness, pain, tingling or numbness in the shoulder, upper back or arms
In severe cases, whiplash can also cause neurological damage, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, sleep issues, and depression.
Whiplash Diagnosis and Treatment
Doctors can diagnose whiplash through an examination, your description of symptoms and injury as well as diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. If your medical professional believes whiplash is the cause of your pain and symptoms, he or she may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. For more severe injuries, prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants may help muscle spasms and other symptoms.
While most people who experience whiplash after a car accident recover within a few months, some people may have symptoms and issues that last for more than 6 months and sometimes years. Long-term whiplash injuries are especially common in victims of a serious car accident who may also experience other injuries to the neck and spine as well as those who may have a pre-existing condition in the neck.
What to Do if You Think You Have Whiplash
If you or a loved one has been in a car accident and are experiencing symptoms consistent with whiplash, it’s important to follow these steps to guard your health and protect your right to compensation for your losses.
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
As soon as you start to notice symptoms of whiplash -- or any other injury you believe may be related to a car accident -- seek medical care by visiting your doctor, urgent care clinic or emergency department. By seeking medical diagnosis and treatment, you are not only starting the road to recovery but also creating evidence for any future injury claims. Most insurance companies will not take a claim for injury seriously if you never sought medical treatment for it.
Even if it's been several days since the accident, make sure to explain to the doctor the circumstances of the accident and say that you believe the symptoms and injury were caused by the crash. Whiplash is notoriously slow to present symptoms so don’t be afraid to decide later that you do want medical treatment.
Once you’ve seen a doctor, follow medical advice and make sure to show up for additional appointments and physical therapy, if needed.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer About Your Case
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be eligible to file an injury claim to seek compensation for your losses. Compensation for a whiplash injury claim after a car accident can include the cost of medical bills, lost wages and other damages. The average settlement for a whiplash injury in a car accident varies based on the total value of your medical bills, lost wages and intangible losses, like pain and suffering.
For victims suffering the long-term effects of a whiplash injury, the claims process could be challenging. Many insurance companies may attempt to deny or devalue your claim. Avoid settling after the first offer or quickly after the accident. If you settle too early, you run the risk of not being compensated for future medical bills or lost wages due to the ongoing care you may need.
Car Accident Lawyers Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law
There is no law requiring you to have a lawyer when filing a personal injury claim after an accident. However, working with an experienced attorney who understands whiplash injury claims can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Why risk being unfairly compensated and not having recourse to fix it? When you hire a car accident lawyer from our team at Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, you pay nothing upfront. We work on contingent fees that are only collected if we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success and our commitment to client care, we can turn your setback into a comeback.