Whiplash from Car Wreck Can Have Long-Term Effects

Whiplash is a type of neck injury often caused by rear-impact car accidents. The term comes from when a whip is used, it curls at the end and snaps back making a loud cracking sound. Your neck does the same thing when your car is rear ended. Many people think that suffering a whiplash injury means taking a day off work, resting and wearing a neck collar. While that may be true in some cases, whiplash resulting from car accidents can often have serious consequences.

According to medicinenet.com, whiplash is often ignored or mistreated due to a general lack of understanding of the condition. Whiplash occurs following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force that causes unrestrained, rapid forward and backward movement of the head and neck.

A rear-impact car accident causes the head and neck of the person hit to be forced into hyperextended (backward) position as the seat pushes the person’s torso forward and the unrestrained head and neck fall backwards. After a short delay, the head and neck then recover and are thrown into a hyperflexed (forward) position.

While most people involved in minor accidents recover from whiplash injuries without chronic symptoms, some continue to suffer for years. Range-of-motion exercises can help lead to a more rapid recovery, but failure to properly recognize or treat whiplash can result in long-term injuries including disability and significant medical costs.

Whiplash results in approximately $30 billion in economic expenses in the United States every year due to medical care, disability, sick leave, lost productivity and litigation. It is a real condition with real symptoms, including:

  • Arm pain
  • Arm weakness
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Visual disturbances

In the past, victims would wear a soft cervical collar for a few weeks to reduce range of motion. However, recent studies show that it is better for a victim to increase range of motion early to avoid chronic neck pain or disability.

3 Million Injured Each Year

According to the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, more than 3 million Americans suffer from whiplash injuries each year and approximately 10% become permanently disabled. Sadly, nearly half of all chronic neck pain in the United States is due to injuries from traffic wrecks – most of which result from low speed, rear-impact collisions.

Whiplash injuries (sometimes referred to as CADs or cervical acceleration-deceleration injuries) are generally soft tissue injuries that result in sprains, strains, muscle tears and nerve damage. Your muscles, ligaments, tendons and the shock absorber disks between your neck bones are all considered soft tissue. Athletes know that a torn ligament takes much longer to heal than a broken bone. These can be difficult to document medically and can hinder a victim from obtaining fair compensation. For example, a car accident victim with a broken leg will have an X-ray to prove the injury; however, a victim who suffers from a sore neck – and may be in extreme pain – may not have the same type of proof. That’s where an experienced car accident lawyer can help.

The lawyer can analyze your situation and determine whether you are entitled to compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, permanent disability, mental impairment, earning capacity impairment, loss of profits, medical bills and more.