Whiplash is one of the most common injuries received from a car accident. Even if the wreck wasn’t big and you feel fine, you may notice symptoms a few days later. Although the symptoms might seem minor, they can cause lasting pain. Here’s how you can tell if you have whiplash after a car accident and what you should do next:
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is the term given to a range of neck injuries caused by forceful and rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. ‘Whiplash’ is the name most of us give to the injury, but the medical terms are: “Cervical acceleration-deceleration” (CAD) for the injury event and “whiplash associated disorders” (WAD) for the consequences and symptoms.
- There are over 3 million whiplash cases in the U.S. every year.
- Over 50% of those result in long-term complications.
- Whiplash cases are five times more common in women than men.
- Whiplash occurs most often in people aged 30-50 years old.
Whiplash in Car Accidents
Whiplash is most often caused by rear-end car accidents. But it’s also common in other types of accidents such as when a car is t-boned. It can even be caused by the force of an airbag deployment.
During an accident, your body goes from your car’s speed to 0 mph very quickly. This causes your body to jolt back-and-forth suddenly. The neck is particularly susceptible to these movements.
Many people who’ve been involved in a car accident suffer whiplash but don’t notice it immediately.
Those with whiplash will recover within a few weeks to months, following a treatment plan and medication. However, it may cause long-term chronic neck pain or other lasting complications.
Do I Have Whiplash?
If you’re wondering if you have whiplash after a car accident, then review if you have the following symptoms within the days after the accident:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Difficulty or pain while moving your head
- Pain and muscles spasms in your shoulders, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the shoulder or arms
Other, less common symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Sleeping difficulties
- Memory problems
- Concentration struggles
Potential Whiplash Complications
It is difficult to predict how you may recover from whiplash. But in general, pain should ease within a few weeks. However, chronic pain is generally associated with the following initial symptoms:
- Severe neck pain
- Extremely neck movement
- Bad pain in the arms
Complications are often tied to:
- Previous whiplash injuries
- Older age
- Existing neck or lower back pain or injuries
- Violent or high-speed auto accidents
Complications may include:
- Joint dysfunction
- Disc herniations
- Nerve damage
- Sleep disorders
What Next If You Have Whiplash After a Car Accident?
See a Doctor
Visit a doctor if you have any neck or shoulder pains after a car accident. The sooner, the better. They will provide you with pain medication and advice for exercises that can help you recover. If you need a referral for a doctor who specializes in motor vehicle accident cases, we can help you. Do not be afraid to ask for guidance.
While whiplash may seem like a relatively minor injury, it can also be very serious. Most often, you’ll recover without invasive medical treatment. But there are severe cases where surgery and other invasive medical treatment are needed.
Treatment for Whiplash
Common whiplash treatment includes:
- Icing the neck to reduce swelling and pain.
- Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs provided by your doctor.
- A neck brace or collar for neck support to reduce pain and aid healing.
- Massage or moist heat after a few days of icing.
In more severe cases, therapy, surgery, injections and other medical treatments may be necessary.
Document Your Injury
Once you recognize you might have whiplash, it’s time to document what you remember about the accident. Try to write down as much as you can remember about the events and how you got injured.
This information can help with personal injury claims, as your auto accident attorney will use your notes for their investigation. In every personal injury accident claim, the insurance company will ask you about how your body moved in the accident and whether you struck anything in the vehicle. It is helpful if you take notes of exactly what happened to be able to refresh your memory later on.
Secondly, visiting your doctor early allows you to tie your injury to the car accident. The less time that has passed between the crash and a trip to the E.R. or doctor, the better.
Proving the accident caused your injury is a crucial part of any personal injury claim. Receiving evidence of your injuries fast is the best method of doing so.
Remember: Never admit fault or agree on a handshake agreement with the other party.
Keep Track of Your Symptoms
Your symptoms can be crucial in pinpointing the nature of your injury and a defining factor in how much compensation you may receive from a personal injury claim.
Note down your symptoms every day, documenting their severity and how they impacted your day-to-day life.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney
If you have whiplash after a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the other party’s insurance company. But it won’t be easy. Insurers don’t give out money on a plate and will do everything they can to blame you for getting hurt. They might even argue that you’re faking your injuries.
You can avoid these tricks. By speaking to an experienced auto accident attorney, you can gain the support of someone who regularly goes up against insurance companies and their teams of lawyers.
Doing so before contacting your insurance company is always advised. One wrong mistake could see you miss out on thousands of dollars. Contact a personal injury attorney for a fair shot and the compensation you deserve.
Can I Be Compensated for Whiplash?
Like all injuries suffered in an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation. People often get cover for a loss of earnings if they’ve had to take days off work due to the pain. Or they can cover medical bills for things like medication, X-rays or doctor’s visits.
Potential damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Potential punitive damages (Where the other party pays you following their negligent behavior)
Why You Need to Act Fast
Florida Statute § 95.11 gives you four years to file a personal injury case after an auto accident. But, you should never wait that long to contact an attorney. The general rule is that the longer you wait, the less your case is worth and the harder it is to prove.
An auto accident attorney will help you beat their tricks while also collecting time-sensitive evidence to prove negligence and negotiate on your behalf. The sooner you act, the more compensation you could receive.
Hire an Auto Accident Attorney in St. Petersburg, FL
If you’re suffering from whiplash after a car accident in Florida, contact us today for a free consultation.
St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas have been providing exceptional legal assistance to Florida residents with whiplash for decades. As partners at a U.S. News and World ReportsTier 1 Law Firm, Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., they give you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.