According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common type of car accident is a rear-end collision. And one of the most common types of injuries resulting from a rear-end collision is whiplash. Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) are caused by the neck bending forcibly forward and backward severely. It’s an injury that involves the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in the neck. WADs often go undiagnosed. These injuries typically resolve themselves quickly but can turn into something more serious. If someone is suffering significant neck pain following a car accident, they should visit a medical professional.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks and don’t seem to have any lasting effects from the injury. However, some people continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury occurred. These are the most common symptoms associated with whiplash:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Pain in your arm or hand
- Numbness in your arm or hand
- Ringing in your ears
- Blurred vision
- Concentration or memory problems
How is Whiplash Diagnosed?
Whiplash injuries include damage to soft tissue that can’t be seen on X-rays. Tests for whiplash may include the following:
- X-Ray. Electromagnetic energy beams produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Large magnets and a computer make detailed images of organs and soft tissue structures in your body.
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan. X-rays and computer technology make horizontal, or axial, images of your body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of your body, including your bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
What are the Consequences of a Whiplash Injury?
It’s a common misconception that whiplash is a minor injury. The truth is whiplash can cause chronic pain and serious consequences. A driver doesn’t need to be speeding to sustain a whiplash injury. Many whiplash injuries occur in accidents at speeds as slow as 10 mph. Up to one-third of people who sustain a whiplash injury are left moderately to severely disabled. WADs can cause neurological and physical symptoms that may be chronic. Researchers have found that the symptoms of a whiplash injury can last for more than a decade for some victims. Consequences of this type of injury include:
- Central hypersensitivity
- Difficulty with memory and concentration
- Mood changes
What Damages Can I Recover After a Whiplash Injury?
If a claim is successful, a whiplash injury victim may be entitled to many forms of compensation for the damages they have sustained. These damages are designed to make them as whole as possible after their accident and may cover economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the details of the case, a client may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses, both current and future, related to the accident
- Lost wages
- Disability or reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
How is Whiplash Treated?
Some treatments for whiplash are most helpful right after an injury, while others are best if used to treat the long-term effects and chronic problems from a whiplash injury. The most common treatments for whiplash include:
- Cold application for the first week followed by heat application
- Exercise/physical therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy
- Radiofrequency nerve ablation
- Spine surgery
How Can I Prevent or Reduce My Risk for Whiplash?
There are several actions people can take to reduce the risk of developing whiplash. Whiplash happens unpredictably, so there’s no way to prevent it entirely. The best ways to reduce risk include:
- Adjust Vehicle Seat
Putting a car seat into the right position and using the headrests can reduce the risk of developing whiplash from vehicle-related situations. There are also orthopedic seat cushions that can help adjust height or posture.
- Properly Fasten Seatbelt
If a seatbelt isn’t worn correctly across the shoulder or it isn’t snug against the body, it might not be able to stop a person’s forward motion before the momentum causes a whiplash injury.
- Drive Safely
Being cautious with driving can help avoid situations where the driver travelling behind can’t stop in time. An example of this is not driving too close to the car ahead. They could slam on the brakes, which might not leave the person behind enough time to stop.
- Position Head Against Headrest
If you see or hear something that indicates your vehicle is about to be rear-ended and there’s time, place your head against the headrest and face straight ahead. Having your head against a properly placed headrest keeps your head, neck, and body from moving at different speeds.
- Play Contact Sports Safely
Avoiding dangerous contact during sports can help avoid a whiplash injury to another player.
- Avoid Roller Coasters and Amusement Park Rides
A primary care provider can advise a person on whether they can or should ride roller coasters or participate in other high-movement activities that could lead to injury.
If you or someone you love has suffered a whiplash injury due to the negligence someone else, you may benefit from the assistance of a Board Certified Personal Injury attorney. Give our office a call at 817-440-3888 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help you.