Whiplash injuries are some of the most common injuries suffered after a car accident, and also one of the most ignored.
The vehicle wrecks to cause these types of injuries are not grisly. Seventy-five percent of rear-end accidents happen at speeds less than 10 mph, but still fast enough to produce injuries.
We’re all aware of the term whiplash, but what exactly does it mean? And if it happens to you, how should you handle a personal injury claim?
Whiplash can be extremely frustrating for car accident victims, as the stiffness and soreness that often accompany can last for days, weeks, or even months. While a sore neck may not seem like that big of a deal, anyone that has ever experienced whiplash would likely attest to the fact that it can have a major impact on a person’s ability to work and enjoy life.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are often skeptical of whiplash injuries, as it is often faked. If left untreated, whiplash can lead to far more serious problems and injuries, some of which can last a lifetime.
As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to visit a doctor or the hospital if you are experiencing any neck pain after a car accident. Even if you think the type of pain or soreness you are experiencing is minor, seek medical attention right away.
Whiplash, also known as Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD), typically occurs when someone experiences a sudden jolt of the neck and shoulders. This is most commonly associated with accidents in which a person’s vehicle is rear-ended by another, however, it is important to note it can happen in almost any type of collision or accident.
In rear-end accidents, specifically, the force of impact suddenly propels your body forward in an unnatural manner. As the body is thrown forward, the head follows just a second behind, whipping up to meet the rest of the body. In many cases, inertia from the impact forces the head to keep moving forward, while the body is restrained by the seat belt.
Whiplash is a non-medical term, thus many attorneys and insurers don’t use it in claim documents and/or court proceedings. The legally correct term is soft tissue injuries to the neck, neck strain, or neck sprain.
Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash
Before moving forward with a whiplash case, it is important that you understand what some of the most common symptoms of this type of injury are:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Worsening of pain with neck movement
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
Some people also experience:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
It is important to note that these symptoms may take several hours or even days to show up. According to WebMD, symptoms of whiplash typically show up within 24 hours of the incident that caused the injury.
If you have been injured it is important to seek medical attention before contacting the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm. A crucial, and perhaps most important aspect of making a whiplash claim, is to do so in a timely manner.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in these types of cases is delaying medical treatment.
If the accident occurred two months ago and you’ve been “living with the pain,” the insurer may argue that the injury wasn’t severe, provide less compensation, or deny your claim completely.
There are several aspects insurers consider when you file a bodily injury claim:
- Legal liability: The insurance company is going to use crash diagrams and witness testimonies to figure out who was legally liable. Many times, in rear end accidents, the second driver is at fault, but sometimes the issue of fault can be cloudier than others.
- Treatment: How soon you sought treatment and to what extent it was provided is important to insurance companies. If you only went to the emergency room right after the accident, your injuries may not be deemed severe. On the other hand, needing several visits to physical therapy under the advice of a doctor is going to affect your compensation as it shows your injury necessitated more intense treatment..
- Injuries: The more severe your injuries are, the higher your chances of receiving more and/or adequate compensation. Be sure to document all injuries that occur in addition to whiplash.
- Recovery Time: If your injuries take much longer to heal, it’s obvious that they are more severe. Sometimes, neck strain can cause permanent damage, and while your insurance company can handle the initial claim, you may want to seek damages from the other party and look into disability.
- Daily Life: Cases are examined on an individual basis. Your insurance company wants to know how severely your daily life was impacted by the crash. If you can go about your normal day-to-day activities or job, you may not receive much compensation — but you have your health.
You can expect to speak to insurers multiple times when making a claim. An adjustor will likely come see your car, and medical records will be requested, so document everything. Keep all receipts, and if you’ve missed work, keep track of the income you’ve lost. Keep a daily injury diary tracking pain, doctor visits, prescription drug usage, and treatment; such as if you receive multiple weekly massages or chiropractic care.
Since whiplash is a soft tissue injury and can’t be seen on an x-ray like a broken bone, insurers will try to argue this “phantom” injury and paint it as something that’s not real, so documentation from you, your doctors, and following through with treatment is crucial.
In order to convince a claims adjuster of the seriousness of your whiplash injury, you need the opinion of a medical provider to back you up, and ask for a signed note or diagnosis from the doctor detailing your whiplash injuries and the expected recovery time. If you underwent an MRI, CT scan, blood tests, or any other exams or treatment, make sure you have it documented.
Although it sounds very involved, the attorneys at the Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm are very experienced in dealing with whiplash cases and willing to go to court to fight for the compensation you deserve.