I Think I Have a Whiplash Injury — What Should I Do?
Last Updated on September 28,2023
Six months after a devastating head-on crash, Officer Nicholas Hamaker continues to recover from the injuries he suffered in the collision, including a dislocated foot, shattered bones, and severe whiplash. Those injuries have made physical therapy a full-time job–a far cry from an officer who previously spent his days investigating the cause of car accidents.
Hamaker is not alone in his extended recovery time. Each year, more than 2 million Americans suffer whiplash injuries, many of them in car accidents. An accident at just 12 miles per hour may have enough force to cause whiplash injuries.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck that occurs due to a rapid back-and-forth movement. It gets its name from a motion like the cracking of a whip, which the neck is not designed to support. Whiplash can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:
- Neck pain
- Stiffness, or numbness in the arms and fingers
Whiplash frequently occurs as a result of a rear-end car accident. However, it can also result from other types of accidents, including sports injuries.
Many people assume that whiplash represents only a minor injury that will recover with rest and time. Unfortunately, some patients may have a much more severe prognosis. Some reports suggest that as many as 56% of whiplash victims will have continuing symptoms a year or more after the accident. Others may report ongoing back pain or auditory symptoms like ringing in the ears long after the accident. Chronic whiplash can create a multitude of damaging symptoms, including ongoing movement difficulty.
What Should You Do If You Think You Have Whiplash?
Whiplash pain and stiffness often set in during the hours and days after a car accident. Patients may notice unexpected headaches, tenderness, or tension in the neck and shoulders. Sometimes, they may wake up the morning after a car accident to discover significant loss of motion in the neck and shoulders. The steps they follow after determining that they have symptoms of whiplash can help protect them.
Patients May Want to Start with a Visit to the Doctor
Whiplash symptoms often resolve on their own, with relatively little intervention. However, having a medical diagnosis can offer a number of potential advantages.
- A medical diagnosis can make it easier for patients to get accommodations at work, which can mean that they can focus more energy on recovering instead of having to handle work responsibilities that could make whiplash pain worse.
- Having a medical diagnosis can help support any later legal claims.
- A doctor can evaluate symptoms of whiplash to make sure that they do not include any further injuries or require any type of intervention. Because many types of injuries can cause neck pain and stiffness, including sprained or strained muscles, patients may want to have a full medical evaluation to rule out further injury.
A doctor can also provide more information about the steps a patient needs to take next.
Patients with Whiplash Should Follow Medical Instructions
A medical care provider can issue specific instructions about how to best recover from whiplash injuries. Instructions usually include things like:
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications
- Applying heat or cold to the affected area
Care providers may also recommend that patients suffering from whiplash avoid specific types of activities that could worsen those symptoms. A care provider may even issue recommendations regarding what work patients can complete while recovering or specific activities they may need to avoid. Furthermore, in the case of some whiplash injuries, patients may need to go through physical therapy in order to maximize their recoveries. Failure to follow those instructions can have significant consequences for some patients with whiplash. First and foremost, failure to follow medical instructions can extend the patient’s recovery. Second, it can make it more difficult for patients to recover any compensation for the damages they may have had to deal with.
Can I Sue If I Got Whiplash in a Car Accident?
In many cases, people who suffer whiplash in a car accident due to another party’s negligence have the right to pursue compensation for those injuries. Car accident victims who carry MedPay insurance may need to use their own insurance coverage before turning to the other party’s insurance company for assistance.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive for a Whiplash Injury?
The compensation victims with whiplash can recover for their injuries may depend on a variety of factors.
1. What Medical Expenses Occurred Due to Whiplash Injuries?
Medical expenses often shape the foundation of a whiplash claim. Patients with whiplash may have unexpected medical costs, including:
- Braces or supports to help limit movement
- Pain medications
- Numerous scans to check for further injuries
- Physical therapy
- Ongoing visits with a care provider
Patients who have experienced significant whiplash injuries should provide all their medical costs to their lawyer so that the lawyer can help them understand what compensation they have the right to pursue for those losses. However, if patients carry MedPay insurance, they will need to use that coverage to help take care of whiplash before moving forward with an injury claim.
2. How Did Whiplash Injuries Limit Income?
Often, care providers will recommend staying out of work for some time following whiplash injuries. Both sitting behind a desk in a stationary position, the neck pointed in an uncomfortable direction, and taking care of responsibilities that involve a great deal of movement can interfere with recovery from whiplash, so victims may miss out on considerable income while recovering from their injuries. Victims should notify their attorneys about their lost income resulting from whiplash injuries, including any time lost at work due to the accident.
3. What Suffering Did Whiplash Cause?
Not only does whiplash cause considerable physical suffering, it may cause emotional anguish, too. Many patients with whiplash may have to miss out on activities they would have preferred to enjoy. In addition, they may have to miss out on specific plans, or suffer from loss of independence during recovery. In many cases, a lawyer can help include that anguish and suffering as part of a comprehensive whiplash claim.
After enduring the physical and emotional challenges of whiplash, it’s not uncommon for individuals to face other severe injuries in car accidents, such as broken bones or even burn injuries. These injuries can exacerbate the trauma and complications, making it even more essential to get the right legal representation to navigate the complexities of personal injury claims.
Dealing with whiplash injuries can prove incredibly frustrating and painful. By pursuing compensation through an injury claim, patients can at least get some financial help with payments for whiplash treatment and the other financial losses they may have sustained. Our team of car accident specialists in Las Vegas is dedicated to providing expert legal advice and representation for your case. Contact us or call call 702-680-1111 today for a free consultation.