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What to Know About Whiplash After a Car Accident

November 27, 2023

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When many people think of car accident-related injuries, whiplash often comes to mind first. The Mayo Clinic defines whiplash as “a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” It also states that whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents, and that while it heals within a few weeks for most victims, some people develop chronic neck pain and long-lasting complications.

If you or someone you love suffered whiplash during a car accident, it’s important to know as much as possible about the condition, including what causes it, what complications are associated with it, how to treat it, and whether you can receive compensation for it. In this blog post, we answer those questions and provide important information for anyone who suffered whiplash during a crash.

What Causes Whiplash?

Whiplash occurs when the head is forcefully jerked backward and then forward, akin to the motion of a cracking whip. This commonly occurs when a vehicle is brought to a sudden stop after impacting something, such as a road barrier or another vehicle, in a collision.

This sudden and rapid movement can strain the neck's muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even the spinal discs. It's essential to recognize that whiplash can happen even at relatively low speeds, and even minor accidents can result in this injury due to the abrupt motion because by the collision.

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Symptoms of whiplash can vary in severity, and they may not always show up immediately after an accident. Common signs of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches, often originating from the base of the skull
  • Reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Pain or tenderness in the shoulders, upper back, or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or vertigo

It's crucial to seek medical attention promptly if you experience any of these symptoms following a car accident, as early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better outcomes.

How is Whiplash Diagnosed?

When you visit a healthcare professional for whiplash symptoms, they will typically conduct a thorough evaluation. This may include a physical examination, imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans, and a detailed medical history review. These diagnostic tools help determine the extent of the injury and rule out any other potential issues.

What Are the Treatment Options for Whiplash?

The management of whiplash depends on the severity of the injury and individual factors. Common treatment options include:

  • Rest: Resting the neck by using a soft collar or neck brace may be recommended in severe cases to prevent further strain.
  • Pain Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or stronger prescription medications may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy exercises and techniques can help improve neck flexibility, strength, and reduce pain.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area can provide relief and reduce muscle spasms.
  • Neck Exercises: Your healthcare provider may recommend specific neck exercises to improve range of motion and strength.
  • Chiropractic Care: Some victims find relief through chiropractic adjustments, which aim to realign the spine and reduce pain.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections may be considered for severe pain and inflammation.
  • Neck Braces or Collars: These may be used temporarily to stabilize the neck and prevent further injury.

It's important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and attend any follow-up appointments for a successful recovery.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Whiplash?

The recovery time for whiplash varies from person to person and depends on the injury's severity. While many people experience significant improvement within a few weeks to a few months, others may continue to have symptoms for a more extended period. While symptoms persist, pain and mobility issues may affect victims’ ability to work.

In rare cases, chronic pain and long-term complications may arise. Early intervention and compliance with treatment recommendations can contribute to a more favorable prognosis.

What Compensation Is Available for Whiplash Victims?

Whiplash victims can receive economic and non-economic damages as compensation for their injuries after car accidents. Common types of damages that whiplash victims may be eligible to receive include:

Medical Expenses

Victims may receive compensation for past and future medical bills related to their whiplash injuries, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgery, prescription medications, physical therapy, and diagnostic tests.

Lost Income

Compensation for whiplash often includes any wages or income lost due to the injury, including missed workdays, reduced work hours, or the inability to perform the same job or duties as before the accident.

Pain and Suffering

These non-economic damages are awarded to compensate victims for physical pain, emotional distress, and psychological trauma caused by their whiplash injuries and their effects.

Punitive Damages

In cases where the at-fault party's conduct was particularly reckless or egregious and the case goes to trial, a jury may award punitive damages as a form of punishment and deterrent. However, punitive damages are relatively rare and usually reserved for extreme cases.

Our Ohio Car Accident Lawyers Know How to Win Whiplash Injury Claims

The fact that whiplash is so common after crashes can actually make it more difficult for victims to get compensation for these injuries. That’s because insurance adjusters often believe victims are making up their injuries or exaggerating them, especially if whiplash is their only significant injury. Fortunately, whiplash can be proven with the right evidence and documentation.

If you or someone you love is suffering from whiplash after a crash, you don’t have to accept that the insurance company will be skeptical of your claim or unfairly deny it. The Ohio auto accident attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy want to help you get the money you deserve, and we know how to build and win your claim. Contact us anytime for a free case review to learn how we can help.

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