Whiplash is sometimes referred to as a minor car accident injury. While whiplash is not life-threatening, the pain and suffering you experience after suffering whiplash in a car accident may be significant, and you may be able to recover damages for your whiplash injury.
How Whiplash Happens
Whiplash occurs when the head suddenly moves forward or sideways in a rear-end car crash or another type of accident. The sudden movement of the head resembles the movement of a whip and causes ligaments in the neck or upper back to stretch or tear before they snap back into position.
Living With Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms may not appear immediately or even in the first few hours after a crash. Instead, in the days following the accident, you may experience:
- Pain. The majority of the pain caused by whiplash will be focused in the neck area. It can cause pain to radiate down the shoulders and arms. It may also cause back pain.
- Headaches. Many whiplash victims suffer from headaches. After neck pain, headaches are the most common reported symptom.
- Decreased range of motion. Sore and stiff muscles can cause it to be difficult to turn the neck in a way that would be considered normal.
- Unusual nerve sensations. Victims of whiplash have reported having burning, prickling, and tingling in the arms. You may experience a pins and needles feeling in your arms.
- Other symptoms. Sleeplessness, dizziness, jaw pain, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and psychological difficulties sometimes accompany whiplash.
Whiplash can’t be seen on standard diagnostic tests such as x-rays. Instead, Doctors may diagnose whiplash according to a rating system based on your symptoms. Various rating systems exist. For example, one system grades the injury from zero to four:
- Grade 0: No neck pain, stiffness or any physical signs.
- Grade 1: Pain is noted in the neck, along with stiffness or tenderness, but the doctor notes no physical signs of injury.
- Grade 2: The same neck complaints as above, and the physician finds decreased range of motion and areas of tenderness on the neck.
- Grade 3: Neck complaints with neurological signs such as decreased deep tendon reflexes, weakness, and sensory deficits.
- Grade 4: Neck complaints along with fracture or dislocation of the vertebrae or an injury to the spinal cord.
Treatment often takes time. Depending on the severity of your whiplash injury, your doctor may suggest physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, pain medication, and a neck collar or cervical traction.
You may recover fully from your whiplash injuries. Unfortunately, some people suffer permanent neck and spine injuries that restrict head movement and cause persistent pain. People with chronic whiplash may experience ongoing shoulder pain, neck pain, and migraines. You may be unable to work or participate in your regular daily activities.
Recovering for Whiplash in a Car Accident Case
As with any injury claim, you must prove that you are hurt before you recover damages. Some helpful evidence may include:
- Medical testimony. If you believe you have suffered from whiplash, you need to have your doctor confirm this diagnosis. It is essential to see a physician who will explain the extent of your injuries and how you have suffered. Your doctor should also order appropriate imaging tests to document the damage done to your body and establish that the whiplash was caused by the accident.
- Your journal. After you have been injured, you should begin to keep a daily journal. In the journal, you should keep a detailed account of the pain you are suffering from and how it affects your daily living.
- Expert testimony. Expert witnesses may establish how your whiplash may impact your future and allow you to recover future damages.
As you navigate a fair recovery, you should be cautious about speaking with insurance adjusters. Insurance companies are not on your side, despite how friendly and cooperative your insurance adjuster may seem. Insurers maximize their profits by paying out as little as possible in insurance claims. Since whiplash diagnoses are not easily confirmed with medical tests, insurance adjusters may try to deny or decrease your settlement by claiming that you don’t have whiplash or that your whiplash does not impact your life in the way that you claim it does.
Insurance companies know that our experienced car accident lawyers mean business and that we will not settle your case for less than it’s worth. If the insurance company refuses to enter a fair settlement agreement, we will not hesitate to go to court to protect your rights. This often encourages insurance companies to make fair settlements to avoid the uncertainty and financial risks of trial.
Your fair recovery should include compensation for past and future:
- Medical costs, including but not limited to doctors’ visits, medications, and physical therapy
- Lost income if you can’t work at all or if you can work fewer hours or for less income than you earned before the accident
- Out-of-pocket expenses for any property damage or other costs incurred because of the accident
- Physical pain and emotional suffering that you experience because of your accident injuries
You have a limited amount of time to pursue a recovery. Typically, you have three years in Wisconsin, two years in Iowa, and two years in Illinois to file a lawsuit after a car crash. However, there is no benefit to waiting until the statute of limitations is about to expire. Instead, you can begin gathering evidence and working toward your recovery today.
Contact an experienced Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin car crash attorney today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Let’s discuss your rights, potential recovery, and our Win or It’s Free Guarantee. You can reach us any time by starting a chat, completing our contact form, or calling us directly. We would be pleased to schedule your initial consultation in any of our 11 personal injury law offices, in your hospital room or home, or by phone or video conference.