Whiplash: no, it’s not an official medical term, but it’s a very real condition nonetheless. Whiplash refers to neck injuries that typically occur in rear-end auto collisions that cause victims’ heads to violently jerk forward and backward from the sudden acceleration of being struck.
Before the widespread use of personal automobiles, this same condition was referred to as “railroad spine,” and was used to describe the injuries sustained by victims of train collisions, so it’s safe to say that doctors have known about this type of injury and how it can happen for a long time.
Unfortunately, while whiplash is an extremely painful and even debilitating condition, there are often no visible symptoms. Additionally, symptoms may not begin to show until days after the crash that caused it, which makes it difficult to prove and gives insurance companies even more reason to be skeptical of injury claims.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash usually show within 12-24 hours after a crash, but may not show until several days later. The main symptoms include:
- Stiffness and pain in the neck
- Pain with head or neck movement
- Loss of range of motion in the neck (side to side, as well as backward and forward)
- Muscle spasms
- Pain in the shoulders and upper back
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Headaches, particularly those that originate at the base of the skull
- Jaw pain when talking, chewing, or swallowing
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Fatigue and/or difficulty sleeping
Symptoms can last for several weeks and may grow considerably worse over time rather than improving. Some victims of whiplash suffer from chronic pain and long-term complications.
How Do I Get a Diagnosis for Whiplash?
As soon as you suspect you may be suffering from whiplash, see a healthcare professional immediately and tell them that you were recently injured in a car accident. The longer you wait to get checked out by a medical provider, the harder it will be to connect your injury to the accident.
Doctors can check for spinal cord damage using X-rays, while MRIs may be used to identify slipped disks and severe damage to ligaments. Unfortunately, most soft tissue injuries like the kind you get from whiplash can’t be clearly seen on these types of scans.
However, your doctor may provide a whiplash diagnosis with a physical exam alone after you describe your symptoms. During this exam, your doctor may test your range of motion in your neck and shoulders, as well as the strength, reflexes, and sensation in your limbs.
Can I Get Compensation for Whiplash?
Yes, although it can be extremely difficult to get it without an attorney arguing your case.
Whiplash can cause severe pain, limit your mobility, and may require expensive prescription medication and physical therapy to treat. If you were injured through no fault of your own by a reckless or distracted driver, you don’t deserve to have to suffer through that alone, while paying out of pocket for the treatment.
Although insurance companies and juries are often skeptical when hearing whiplash claims, our Georgia and Alabama auto accident attorneys are experienced at building cases that prove the other driver was behaving negligently, and that your life has been worse since your accident. We know you deserve compensation, and we can make sure the jury and the insurance company know it, too.
Are you experiencing neck pain after a car crash, but have been unable to get the insurance company to take your injury seriously? We want to hear from you. Call the Law Offices of Gary Bruce for a free consultation.