An increasing number of people are turning to the internet for all sorts of advice. Fashion advice. Medical advice. Marriage advice.
Here are Premium Law, we certainly won’t dissuade you from getting fashion advice online, but we strongly recommend that you don’t turn to Google for legal advice. Because it could end up costing you a whole lot more than you expected.
1. Which Types of Accidents Cause Whiplash?
Many individuals assume that serious injuries, such as injuries causing long-term pain or permanent disability, can only occur during high-speed or multiple vehicle collisions. However, certain injuries, including whiplash, can occur during any type of accident, including seemingly minor fender benders.
In fact, a 1998 Australian study on the impact of whiplash on the head, neck, and jawbone showed that collisions at as slow as 8 kilometers per hour, or just under 5 miles per hour, could result in whiplash. Numerous studies since then have confirmed these findings.
Whiplash happens when the inertia of your vehicle changes directions suddenly, moving your torso with it but not your head. This change throws your head first backward and then forward. Whiplash can move vertebrae, strain muscles and ligaments, injure nerve roots, and occur simultaneously with brain injuries like concussion.
You are more likely to sustain whiplash if your headrest is in a lower position or if you do not have a headrest since your head has a broader range of motion during the collision. If you have back problems, are a senior citizen, or have experienced whiplash before, you are more likely to sustain whiplash and suffer secondary complications.
2. What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
If you notice the symptoms of whiplash after any type of traffic collision, seek medical care. Look for the following symptoms:
- Pins-and-needles feeling in your arms
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Headaches at the nape of the neck
- Neck pain or reduced range of motion
- Persistent exhaustion
- Shoulder or back pain
- Vision changes
Many drivers do not notice the effects of whiplash immediately. In some cases, this delay occurs due to the shock of the collision, but whiplash can also be a late-appearing injury that may take a while to develop. In most cases, you will begin to notice symptoms within a day.
3. What Long-Term Effects Can Whiplash Have?
If you suspect that you have developed whiplash after an accident, visit your primary care doctor or seek emergency medical care as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will use interview questions, a physical examination, and imaging technology to determine if you have whiplash and to what severity.
This initial visit is a critical step in your treatment. Undiagnosed whiplash can have serious potential complications, especially when the whiplash is particularly severe. A number of injuries commonly occur at the same time as whiplash or develop as whiplash is left untreated, including:
- Chronic headaches or jaw pain
- Issues with memory and concentration
- Muscle weakness
- Neuropathy (loss of feeling or tingling in certain bodily regions)
- Permanent or chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, or back
- Poor quality sleep and feelings of fatigue
- Spinal cord compression
- Spinal disc rupture
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, chiropractic care, muscle relaxants, pain relievers, or massage therapy to help you recover. In some severe cases, you may need further medical treatment such as epidural injections of anti-inflammatory medication or relaxants.
4. When Is Whiplash Legally a Personal Injury?
Some drivers assume that any injury sustained during a traffic accident could potentially be cited in a personal injury claim. However, whether or not an injury constitutes a personal injury under the law depends on a number of factors.
The most fundamental question asked in an auto accident personal injury claim is whether a specific person can be held accountable for the collision. This question probes farther than determining the at-fault driver. In order to be liable for your injuries, the other party must have behaved in a reckless or negligent manner.
For example, if the accident occurred because another driver was traveling well over the speed limit in an obviously reckless manner or neglected to obey traffic signals, you may have a personal injury claim.
Your attorney will consider the facts of the accident as well as supporting evidence like witness testimony, law enforcement reports, and your medical records to determine the validity and chances for success of your personal injury claim.
If you experience the symptoms of whiplash, seek medical care as soon as possible. Not only can prompt treatment minimize the risk of complications, but the medical records generated during this process serve as essential evidence should you file a personal injury claim against the responsible party.
Wondering if your whiplash qualifies as a personal injury? Schedule a consultation at Baumgartner Law.