More than 6 million car accidents happen every year in the United States, and more than 3 million people are injured in these crashes.
While these accidents often cause many types of injuries, including broken bones, lacerations, bruised ribs, neck and back pain, soft tissue injuries, and concussions, whiplash is one of the most commonly reported neck injuries, according to a National Library of Medicine study.
Just because whiplash is common doesn't mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. In fact, whiplash can become a major setback if you don't take appropriate action after the automobile crash or accident that caused it.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when the neck rapidly snaps back and forth. This common condition gets its name because the forceful snapback is similar to the cracking of a whip. Whiplash may also be referred to as a neck strain or sprain, which is actually a broader term that encompasses a wide range of neck injuries.
Though whiplash can result from contact sports and/or physical assault, its most common cause is rear-end automobile accidents. Other common causes of whiplash include motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall accidents, pedestrian accidents and boating accidents.
According to a study published in the Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine, crashes at higher speeds can increase the number and severity of whiplash. Under certain conditions, the effects of whiplash can last more than a month after the incident occurs.
What Are the Consequences of Not Treating Whiplash?
With treatment, most whiplash cases will resolve within a few weeks. However, if the victim experienced a previous whiplash incident, is older, or had existing lower back or neck pain, the whiplash outcomes may be worse. Additionally, if a victim suffers multiple injuries in the accident, long-term effects of whiplash may be experienced.
Whiplash can lead to long-lasting complications and chronic debilitating neck pain that can interfere with everyday personal and professional commitments, such as cooking, caring for kids and working. In some cases, the following symptoms may also be indicative of more serious injuries:
- Blurry vision
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
Seeking Medical Attention After a Car Accident
It is always advisable to see a doctor after a car accident, especially if your injuries result in pain or symptoms that cause health concerns. An accurate medical diagnosis can rule out other problems and complications, such as traumatic brain injury, broken bones, or a spinal injury. Prompt medical care also sets you on the path to healing sooner through treatment, and can help validate any insurance claims you may pursue down the road.
If you start experiencing signs and symptoms of whiplash days after your accident, it’s important to follow up with a healthcare professional, and to preserve your medical records and documentation in case you need proof of your injury later.
Why You Need an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
Depending on the details of the accident and who is at fault, compensation for your injury may include lost wages lost earning capacity, transportation costs, psychological distress, pain and suffering, property damage and medical costs.
The amount of compensation you are entitled to is impacted by many factors, including the severity of your whiplash injury, and its long-term impact on your life in the future. Ultimately, the amount of compensation you receive is directly impacted by something else - the knowledge, experience, and skill of the auto accident attorney negotiating on your behalf.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in California and you’re living with whiplash or another painful or debilitating injury, you can’t afford not to take immediate and comprehensive steps to safeguard your future and the future of those who depend on you.