Whiplash: A Common Yet Severe Neck Injury in Rear-End Accidents

A low speed rear-end collision might seem like “not a big deal” compared to most other car accidents. What many people do not realize is that this seemingly mundane type of crash can cause whiplash in anyone who was in the front vehicle at the time of the crash. If left untreated, whiplash can cause serious issues and potentially permanent side effects, as well as a stack of expensive medical bills later on.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by the neck being shaken suddenly and harshly back-and-forth. It is common in rear-end collisions, especially those that occur when the front vehicle is stopped completely at a light. The impact of the rear vehicle slams the other car forward, which yanks back the driver’s neck. A split second later, the front vehicle stops abruptly, throwing the driver’s neck forward. In particularly violent crashes, a driver’s neck may whip back and forth multiple times due to the severe force and shaking caused by the impact.

How Do You Know If You Have Whiplash?

One of the biggest dangers of whiplash is that it can trick people into thinking they don’t have it at first. In mild to moderate whiplash cases, the initial symptoms are usually soreness and stiffness of the neck, which people might attribute to aches expected after any crash. The full extent of a whiplash injury’s symptoms will probably not become clearer until 24 to 72 hours after the collision.

Some of the worst symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Migraines
  • Arm numbness
  • Bodily fatigue
  • Dizzy spells
  • Blurred vision
  • Tinnitus
  • Insomnia
  • Amnesia

Since whiplash to some degree is likely after any rear-end car accident, it is highly advised that you see a medical professional as soon as you can after a crash. A same-day appointment or going to urgent care to see a physician is ideal. You might feel completely fine or only a little sore after an accident, but there could be underlying whiplash complications that will not become noticeable until later. Catching those issues sooner with an accurate diagnosis can make treatment easier and more effective.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from Whiplash?

X-rays, MRIs, and range of motion tests can all help them diagnose the severity of your whiplash and predict when you will recover. Your doctor might be hopeful that your whiplash symptoms will dissipate in several weeks with regular rest and care. For moderate cases, whiplash can cause frequent neck pain for several years.

Can Whiplash Be Permanent?

A severe whiplash case might cause lifelong complications, even with the best medical care available. If whiplash damages a nerve, tears a muscle or tendon, or strains the spinal cord, then it could result in permanent symptoms ranging from chronic pain to limited movement. People who are older or have preexisting neck and back complications are more susceptible to severe and permanent whiplash symptoms.

What is the Best Treatment for Whiplash?

It is up to you and your doctor to decide how to best treat your whiplash as every patient is different from the next. Although, there are a number of common treatment methods that you will likely be instructed to explore.

In minor to moderate cases, frequent rest, iced or heated compresses, careful exercises, and painkillers – either over-the-counter or through a prescription – will likely be prescribed. In severe whiplash cases, though, more intensive treatment methods might be brought up when speaking with your doctor. Surgeries, injections of specialized medicine, and years of directed physical therapy could all help control your whiplash symptoms. In any situation, whiplash treatments can get expensive, especially if your healthcare insurance does not cover all the recommended methods.

Filing a Claim Against Those Responsible for Your Whiplash

Have you been diagnosed with whiplash after being in a rear-end car accident? To get the full extent of medical treatments you need to alleviate your whiplash symptoms, you might need to bring an injury claim against the negligent driver that hit you. Through a successful injury claim, you can recover compensation that pays for all of your treatments, including those that you will need to schedule years into the future.

Depending on where you live and the details of your accident, you might also be able to demand noneconomic damages from the liable party. Noneconomic damages are costs paid to accident victims to more or less make up for their undue pain and suffering. Since the top symptoms of whiplash are prolonged suffering and discomfort, noneconomic damages would seem to be certainly justifiable.

Car accident survivors living in Chicago can come to McHargue & Jones, LLC for legal counsel and representation to pursue damages from the party that caused their crash and whiplash. We have decades of combined experience managing complex personal injury cases both in and out of court. See what our legal team can do for your case, too, by dialing (312) 739-0000 and arranging a no-cost consultation.