Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. It’s also among the most painful. And yet many people who have been in a car accident do not realize at first that they’ve experienced whiplash—or how long and difficult the recovery process can be.
If you developed whiplash after an accident, you have a serious medical condition that can get better with treatment. You have a legal right to a financial recovery to help pay for that treatment. The attorneys of John Foy & Associates are experienced with whiplash cases and we’re here to help. We are one of Atlanta’s largest personal injury law firms, with a long history of successful outcomes for our clients. Let us help you. Call 404-400-4000 and get a free consultation today.
What is whiplash? Is it a real injury?
Whiplash is very real. Whiplash has gotten a bad reputation because of how it’s depicted in TV and movies. But in real life, a case of whiplash can be painful to the point of debilitating. People who suffer from whiplash may find themselves unable to work or sleep. It can affect their lives for months or even years.
In medical terms whiplash refers to a variety of injuries to the neck region, caused by forceful movement of the neck. We see this most commonly in car accidents. If you’re in a car that hits something and suddenly stops, your body is restrained by the seat belt but your head is thrown forward, making a motion like a whip. This puts extreme strain on the muscles and bones of the neck. The same thing can happen when a stopped car is suddenly hit, perhaps by being rear ended.
During a whiplash event, the cervical spine (neck portion of the spinal column) extends beyond its normal range of motion. This can primarily affect the upper cervical spine, the lower cervical spine or both. The overextension may cause several kinds of injury:
- Damage to the discs of the cervical spine itself
- Damage to the ligaments of the neck
- Injury to the trapezius (upper back muscle) or supraspinatus (shoulder muscle)
- Brain injury
Often, multiple types of injuries are sustained simultaneously.
Besides car accidents, whiplash can be sustained on roller coasters, in sports injuries or in any situation where there’s a sudden movement of the neck.
Do you know you have whiplash as soon as it happens?
Not always. Whiplash is unusual among injuries in that at first, it can appear to be only a mild soreness, that takes hours or days to develop into something truly painful. Since there is no outward sign of whiplash, a person may walk away from a car accident thinking they have just “scrapes and bruises,” only to see the soreness develop into something serious overnight.
Symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Stiffness of the neck
- Less range of neck motion
- Headaches, especially at the base of the skull
- Pain when you move your head or neck
- Pain in the shoulder, arms or upper back
- Tingling in the arms
- Potentially blurred vision, sleep problems, memory problems or difficulty concentrating
These symptoms may start off minor and become more serious with time.
How serious is whiplash ?
It can be very serious. For many whiplash patients, the symptoms will get better over the course of several weeks or months of treatment. For others, whiplash can turn into a chronic pain. It can also lead to a long term loss of range of motion in the neck. These symptoms can be lifelong.
It’s hard to know how long any particular case of whiplash will last. But those that are more serious from the start, with a rapid onset of pain and a “radiating” pain down the arms, are likely to last longer. Treatment is important for all forms of whiplash, and the sooner treatment starts, the more likely it is to help prevent long term symptoms.
What kind of treatment does whiplash require?
Whiplash treatment depends on how serious the pain and stiffness are. The most important aspects of whiplash treatment include:
- Treating the pain
- Working to restore motion to the neck
Some minor cases can be resolved with over the counter pain medicine, ice and heat, and rest. But over 50% of people who suffer from whiplash neck pain will have long term effects. More serious treatment includes:
- Physical therapy to rehabilitate the neck
- Simple at-home neck exercises recommended by a doctor
- Temporary, short term use of a foam neck collar (overusing the collar may cause the neck muscles to become weaker)
- Muscle relaxants
- Prescription pain relievers
Getting this treatment early on makes a difference. Active medical treatment for whiplash can reduce pain and minimize the amount of time you’re away from work.
If I got whiplash in an accident, who is liable?
The person who caused the accident is liable. In a car accident, generally their insurance company is liable for the cost of your treatment. If you yourself might be considered liable, your own car insurance company must pay for your costs.
Unfortunately insurance companies aren’t quick to live up to their financial obligation. They try to make the smallest payment possible or deny claims whenever they can. In many cases they will use strongarm tactics, such as dragging their feet while you pay for medical treatment out of pocket. But you have legal rights. Insurance companies are paid to take care of these claims, and they must do their job.
Our attorneys can help. At John Foy & Associates, we’ve won financial recoveries for whiplash clients even in the toughest circumstances:
- If you mistakenly said you were “fine” after the accident
- If the extent of your injuries is greater than you initially thought
- If the insurance company denied your claim
A good lawyer can make a difference in all of these cases. Let John Foy & Associates help you. We offer a free consultation and we charge you nothing unless we win you a financial recovery. Call 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.