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Whiplash in Car Accidents

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Whiplash is the most common car accident injury, often resulting from even relatively mild collisions, particularly rear-end accidents. Whiplash injuries from car accidents can be difficult to prove because the majority of whiplash injuries occur in crashes at low speeds, often with little visible damage to a vehicle. Whiplash injuries result from soft-tissue damage to the muscles in the neck and upper back, causing further difficulty in providing clear evidence of injury. Because of the difficulty in providing immediate visible evidence of the pain and disability associated with whiplash from car accidents, insurance companies routinely deny or undervalue this type of injury claim.

What Is Whiplash From a Car Accident?

The crash force of an accident places significant stress on the body, particularly the spine. At only 30 miles per hour, a 100-pound person becomes a 3,000-pound force thrown forward against the seatbelt and snapped back against the seat. This forces the neck to hyper-extend beyond its usual range of motion and causes damage to the muscles supporting the cervical spine due to the sudden stretching of muscles. The sprained muscles become inflamed in the hours and days following the accident, causing serious and often debilitating symptoms of pain and stiffness.

Symptoms of Whiplash After a Car Accident

Because the symptoms of whiplash aren’t immediately noticeable after an accident, many car accident victims don’t seek medical attention right after the accident, especially if it was a minor fender-bender or an accident with little or no damage to their vehicle. But as the inflammation or swelling of the muscles in the neck and upper back develop, the car accident victim experiences symptoms that include the following:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder and back pain
  • Reduced range of motion (stiffness)
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and hands
  • Dizziness and vision problems
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty with memory and concentration
  • Irritability, anxiety, and mood changes
  • Jaw pain
  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Fatigue

Whiplash causes temporary disability and requires medical attention and sometimes physiotherapy or rehabilitative therapy to reduce pain and restore the full range of motion.

What are the Long-Term Impacts of Whiplash?

Most people fully recover from whiplash with rest and appropriate medical care, but the impacts of the injury can make it difficult for victims to work at their previous capacity, especially for those with jobs requiring physical labor.

Some car accident victims with whiplash experience long-term effects including pain, instability, sleep disturbances, and loss of full range of motion. Serious whiplash may cause a misalignment of cervical discs from the pressure and inflammation in the muscle tissue caused by the injury. Because the brain sends signals to the body through the cervical spine, any disruption in this area can result in lasting impacts on the body’s ability to function, including how the brain and body send messages back and forth, disrupting normal bodily functions, sometimes including breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and immune function.

Why Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer For a Whiplash Case?

Insurance companies routinely deny or undervalue compensation claims after whiplash from a car accident. An insurance adjuster’s job is to prioritize company profits by denying claims. Because whiplash can occur with little or no damage to a vehicle and no visible bodily injuries, an insurance adjuster may state that your doctor’s recommended treatment for whiplash isn’t necessary and that there is no reason not to immediately return to work. This is especially true for whiplash injury victims who did not seek medical care immediately after the accident but experienced worsening symptoms in the hours and days after the accident.

Pain and stiffness can be difficult to prove. An experienced San Diego car accident attorney has access to the best medical experts to effectively demonstrate the impacts of whiplash and make a compelling case for compensation.