The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 800,000 whiplash-related injuries are reported each year in the U.S., making it the most common form of personal injury suffered in rear-end auto accidents. Unlike most injuries, whiplash can have delayed symptoms which take weeks or even months to develop after an accident, which is why you should seek a full medical evaluation as soon as possible if you may have suffered an injury in the head, neck, or back.
There is indeed a sort of stigma attached to the term “whiplash,” and it is so often used in conjunction with the term “ambulance chaser” that some injury attorneys prefer to avoid it entirely and instead use terms like “cervical strain/sprain” and “hyperextension” as appropriate. The names by which they’re referenced may have changed with time, but these injuries to soft tissue in the neck are as prevalent as ever and many can have long-term effects if left untreated.
Whiplash typically occurs in rear-end accidents when the driver’s head jerks backward and forward in a violent and rapid way from the impact. This can damage and/or tear tendons, ligaments, and other muscles, and healing times for such serious injuries can vary greatly. It’s a rather common injury in auto accidents, and can also occur in contact sports, falling down stairs, slip-and-fall accidents, skiing/snowboarding accidents, and workplace injuries, especially those involving repetitive tasks. Although most cases may seem minor, they certainly have the potential to cause permanent chronic pain and other debilitating symptoms.
To make matters worse, insurance carriers often demean and even underestimate cases of whiplash. Disc injuries in one’s neck or back may certainly heal over time with or without provocative surgical intervention, but musculoligamentous injuries – particularly to the neck – represent permanent damage to ligaments. Their stretching and/or tearing may lead to chronic pain and restricted mobility over time, leading to a truly-debilitating physical state.
Whiplash injuries may not produce symptoms for several days following an accident, and medical treatment should always be sought as soon as possible even if no symptoms are present, as untreated whiplash injuries can lead to severe and long-term complications. Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Mild to severe neck pain
- Stiffness/lost range of motion
- Dizziness and/or headaches
- Loss of cognitive abilities
- Pain extending to the back, shoulders, or arms
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the hands or arms
- Trouble concentrating
If you believe you may have suffered whiplash in an accident, seek medical attention as soon as possible and document your condition day-by-day. If it worsens, return to the doctor immediately; this is important not only for your well-being, but also for your legal claim and pursuit of compensation with your attorney.
Necessary treatment for whiplash injuries can range from over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain medication to long-term physical therapy and prescription medication for chronic pain. Fortunately, most whiplash injuries heal within four to six weeks if medical attention is sought as soon as possible after the accident.
Fortunately, a sizable percentage of common whiplash injuries do not require extensive medical treatment, and injured individuals often do well with painkillers, ultrasounds, heat and ice, and general physical therapy and/or rehabilitation. However, recovery times for these injuries may be significant and require a great deal of caution in order to heal fully. A whiplash victim who returns to work too early or engages in other strenuous activities before he/she has fully recovered may suffer long-term or permanent damage as a result.
Another problem whiplash victims should be aware of is that, in some cases, the pain can subside during recovery but return months or even years later, long after the personal injury claim has been settled once and for all. This is why it is essential for your well-being to seek a full medical evaluation if you’ve been injured in an auto accident: your health care providers, and your attorney, must understand every extent and implication of your injuries to ensure that you not only make a full recovery, but also receive full compensation for long-term damages as well as short-term.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident due to another’s negligence, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact Mike Agruss Law today for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based personal injury law firm, and helping our clients is about counseling, advocating, and ultimately solving problems. With years of experience successfully representing the people and not the powerful, we will file your claim and take care of the insurance company, medical bills, property damage, and lost income. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, our personal injury lawyers are not paid attorney fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.