There may be no greater surprise than the violent shock of a car accident. Most have experienced this in one form or another over the years. You’re driving along, and everything is fine. But then, out of nowhere, a car slams into you. Your seatbelt tightens around your body, and the airbag deploys. Debris scatters across the pavement. Your car is damaged and may even be totaled, and you stand there processing the trauma of what just happened. You check yourself over. The paramedics arrive and assess you for injuries. Everything seems fine to you at the moment.
But the truth is, you may be far from fine. You may have just suffered from whiplash. With the adrenaline coursing through your body, you might not feel it right away. It may take some time to really feel the symptoms of whiplash. Over the next few hours, those symptoms will surface, and so will the pain.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a very common injury. It most frequently occurs in car accidents. A driver or passenger encounters whiplash when the car stops on impact and snaps the head back and forwards in a whipping motion. Typically, whiplash occurs as a result of a rear-end collision. The strength and force of impact violently push the head forward and the sudden stop whips the head back quickly. When this happens, there is an overextension of the shoulder and neck muscles and joints. More often than not, it is common to have other back and shoulder injuries alongside whiplash.
Whiplash affects more than one million people in the United States each and every year. It is the most common injury that occurs in car accidents and many sufferers of whiplash may not fully recover for years.
Some of the symptoms caused by whiplash are:
- Neck pain
- Decreased neck mobility
- Neck spasms
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
Diagnosing Whiplash After an Accident
It can commonly take a few days for the symptoms of whiplash to surface after an auto accident. After a car crash, most people are shocked or surprised. This activates the body’s “fight or flight” response mechanism, which can actually prevent pain from being felt immediately. A driver or a passenger may not be diagnosed with whiplash immediately. There are a few considerations to keep in mind when being assessed for whiplash.
Drivers and passengers involved in accidents should be aware that symptoms usually don’t surface for some time after. It could take several hours before symptoms are felt. At this point, if you believe that you are suffering from whiplash, you should first seek medical attention to receive a proper diagnosis and a formal treatment plan. Next, you should speak with a personal injury attorney. Not getting the proper treatment from a doctor may only worsen your symptoms. And not seeking legal assistance could leave you with a large pile of medical bills.
If you notice any of the symptoms of whiplash, be sure to consult a doctor. Medical attention should be sought at the first onset of pain after an accident and especially if a person’s head struck any part of the vehicle or there was a loss of consciousness. A doctor will offer you a proper diagnosis, and you want to make sure you can begin treatment as soon as possible. Doctors can also prescribe medications to help with the pain, the muscle strains, and the spasms. Medication is often necessary to continue the tasks of your day to day job or even simply taking care of household duties.
Assessing the Severity of a Neck or Back Injury
Whiplash is a serious injury and can cause serious pain in its victims. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the severity of a neck or back injury. Not every individual is affected in the same way. Some of the factors involved are:
- Particularly among women, height is one of the top risk factors. A shorter individual may not be well protected if the head restraint of a passenger’s seat is left unadjusted or not low enough. Similarly, in taller individuals, if the head restraint is not properly adjusted, then they may be exposed to the risk of whiplash.
- Reports have found that women are twice as likely to suffer from a neck injury caused by whiplash than men. Women are also more likely to develop long-term symptoms as a result of whiplash.
- Studies have shown that drivers may have a higher risk of neck injury as a result of whiplash than passengers. In many cases, the passenger is generally in a more relaxed position than the driver, keeping his or her head nearer to the head restraint and thus more protected, which may contribute to these findings.
Get the Professional Medical Help You Need for Whiplash
Whiplash can take time to heal. The severity of the symptoms can vary widely from mild to intense. With proper treatment, you will hopefully be on your way to a full recovery. Without treatment, the symptoms may fester for years. Many individuals suffering from whiplash do not seek treatment because treating whiplash can be expensive.
Whiplash injuries often require frequent visits to doctors, physical therapists, and chiropractors. As far as pain goes, the total cost of receiving the proper medical attention, the correct treatment, and the appropriate medication may end up being more excruciating than the actual symptoms of whiplash. Don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t go through life in pain while having your savings drained, or worse, while going into significant debt.
If your whiplash is the result of a car accident, you need to consult a personal injury attorney. A personal injury attorney can help you secure the appropriate compensation for the medical attention, the medication, and the rehabilitation you require. In many cases, a personal injury attorney will not involve any upfront expenses out of pocket. Most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency basis. Contingency fee means they do not require any payment until the case settles.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have suffered from a whiplash injury as a result of an automobile accident, you want to make sure you have an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner. Personal injury attorneys are skilled at dealing with insurance companies who often take advantage of injured parties that have medical bills piling up. This includes whiplash victims.
Don’t wait. After you have been involved in a car accident, there is only a limited amount of time to make a claim. Due to the limitations on the amount of time to process a claim, it is vital that you speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. As a rule of thumb, once you have been diagnosed with whiplash and have begun treatment, started medication, or entered into physical therapy, your next action should be to contact a personal injury attorney. Keep in mind that the attorney’s fees will not change regardless of when you hire them.
Time is not on your side, and the severity of your symptoms may only progress. In the event you experience any of the symptoms of whiplash discussed here after an automobile accident, contact Hutzler Law today at (602) 345-1981.