neck injuries after an auto accident

Regardless of the severity of the auto accident, the chances that you suffer a neck injury are high. The force of a sudden stop or crash is enough to throw your head in a motion that your neck is not designed to withstand. As a result, two people who are involved in the same collision can suffer different injuries depending on how their neck is able to handle the shock. This is most notable between genders. I often have husbands and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends involved in the same auto accident sitting next to each other. It has been my observation that women suffer more neck injuries.

But, a neck injury is common and can happen to anyone from an auto accident. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in auto accident injury claims. We have handled countless of these cases successfully over the years. We understand how to help people suffering from these injuries and how to maximize the value of each claim. This article is written to discuss the impacts of neck injuries and how they are dealt with in a normal auto accident claim.

Common Neck Injuries After an Auto Accident:

Neck and Shoulder Muscle Injury

It is extremely common after an auto accident for the neck and shoulder area to be sore. Muscle strains, sprains, and muscle spasms are often the cause of this pain. While they can be painful, damage to the muscle can be repaired relatively easily through a combination of rest, physical therapy, or even medication management. Ligament damage is more serious. When the ligaments of the neck are stretched or torn, it can be a permanent injury that requires continued maintenance and therapy during flare ups.


Whiplash is no longer a proper medical term, but it is still used in layman’s terms to describe the injuries resulting from the whipping of the head in a sudden impact. When the head moves forcefully and then stops or retracts, the surrounding tissue and spine can be injured. Whiplash is a catch-all term to describe the pain. The injury can cause severe pain, numbness, headaches, and all types of stability and balance problems.

Disc Bulges and Disc Herniations

Part of the spinal column are discs. These discs are cushions or shock absorbers for your vertebrae. They consist of a tough exterior and a soft interior. The soft gelatinous part of the disc is not meant to extrude through the shell. But, during an auto accident, when the vertebrae are twisted or compacted, the disc can rupture and lose its shape. The disc material that extrudes toward the spinal nerves is called either a bulge or a herniation, depending on the severity. When the disc begins to press against nerves, it can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness to the affected part of the body. Disc bulges are less serious and can be treated with conservative treatment such as physical therapy. But, disc herniations can be serious depending on how far the disc is protruding into the nerve. Herniations are normally treated first with conservative care, then injection therapy, and in some cases, surgery. Both disc bulges and herniations are permanent injuries. Once the disc has broken, it will only worsen over time.

Dislocated or Fractured Vertebrae

A dislocation of the vertebrae can occur when the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together are torn, causing them to move. A fracture of the vertebrae occurs when the bone itself breaks or cracks.

Both injuries are fairly rare, but are serious. The symptoms can be similar to all other neck injuries, therefore if you feel pain after an auto accident, it is wise to get a diagnostic test such as an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. These injuries are usually treated through rest and conservative care, such as physical therapy. Because a dislocation or a fracture can lead to surgery if left untreated or if it worsens, special care must be taken.

The Importance of a Medical Specialist for Auto Accident Injuries

You do not want the doctor who you go to for a flu or cold to treat your auto accident injury, right? But, many injured people who trust their family or primary doctor seek treatment there first. Usually, the family doctor will give the person an X-ray, prescribe some muscle relaxers for the pain, and tell them that they will be fine. As the pain continues, they finally realize that something is seriously wrong and then for other help. By then, days or weeks have passed, the injury hasn’t been properly treated, and the injury claim has been forever damaged.

There is no one type of doctor that you have to see for a neck injury after an auto accident, as long as the doctor specializes in those injuries. Neck and back injuries are the most common injuries after an auto accident, so the specialist will certainly have seen similar injuries to yours in the past. The specialist will know what form of treatment to order and as important, which diagnostic test to have done. An X-ray is a helpful tool, but can only go so far. MRIs are the standard diagnostic tool for neck injuries because they are more sensitive and can pick up soft tissue damage like disc bulges and herniations that X-rays cannot. I guarantee that family doctors or general practitioners will not order an MRI for you. As a result, you may never know the extent of your injury, think you will be fine, and not know that you have a serious and permanent injury that will affect you for the rest of your life.

Contact an Auto Accident Attorney

After the medical treatment for your neck injury is in place, you will likely want to discuss setting up an injury claim. You may have been told by your doctor or chiropractor that you should speak to an attorney, and that is where I come in. I have successfully handled countless claims involving neck injuries.

The first step in the process is setting up the injury claim. Once I send out the letters of representation, the insurance companies must direct all communication through my office. We then monitor and manage your medical treatment. Our biggest priority is to watch your medical bills in order to make sure that they will be repaid out of the settlement. At the conclusion of the treatment, we then prepare a demand for compensation to the insurance company. After some negotiation, most cases conclude at this point.

At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we are familiar with the value of neck injuries and the best medical providers in the area. If you have any questions about your auto accident injury, please contact us for a free consultation.