Pain in the Neck: Suing for Whiplash
We tend to trust our eyes first and foremost. Things do not seem real if they are not visible. Something that we can see or even touch. However, some injuries are elusive. Whiplash is a perfect example of an injury that has very few visible signs. With its often-delayed onset of symptoms, sometimes the accident victim is not immediately aware that they have been hurt.
But what exactly is whiplash? What typically causes it? What should you look out for if you think you have sustained an injury that could lead to whiplash? And what should you do if you think someone else is responsible for your injury? Read on to find out.
What is Whiplash?
The term whiplash refers to a group of neck injuries that involve sudden distortion and extension. The mechanism of the injury, although sometimes mysterious in nature, is called cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome (CAD). The resulting injuries and symptoms are called whiplash-associated disorders (WAD).
The injury is often associated with car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. Other common sources of injury include extreme activities such as bungee jumping, and slip and fall accidents. Insurance companies commonly report that whiplash is one of the most often claimed auto-related injuries. A 2007 study out of the United Kingdom reported 430,000 whiplash claims and that the cost of paying out such claims accounted for 14% of all insurance premiums that year.
But whiplash injuries pre-date automobiles. The condition was once known as railway spine due to its common association with train collisions.
In the medical community today, there is a broad consensus that acute whiplash is a very real condition. However, support for chronic whiplash is less forthcoming. While there are those who believe these problems can be catastrophic and long term, other academics have tried to discredit chronic whiplash sufferers by suggesting there are financial motivations at play. This is very unfortunate for those who have a lifetime of suffering ahead of them.
Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash
The most common physical symptoms reported by whiplash sufferers include:
- neck/back aches and pains
- shoulder pain
- arm/leg sensory disturbance (pins and needles)
Although, symptoms may appear right after the injury happens, they sometimes go days before being felt. Whiplash usually impacts the neck and the middle of the spine.
Pain between the shoulder and neck is very common, suggesting a missing link toward the inside of the shoulder. This might explain why neck therapy by itself does not give lasting relief in many cases.
Whiplash may also has some associated cognitive symptoms. Patients often report being irritated and easily distracted. Severe CAD cases can lead to brain injury called a Coupcontra-coup injury. This is a result of the brain itself being accelerated back and forth as your head and neck are thrown around.
Common Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash happens when the cervical vertebrae are suddenly extended and flexed, often resulting in sprains to the nuchal ligament and the anterior longitudinal ligament. It can also be caused by impulsive retraction of the spine. This is usually caused by the head snapping forward and back, resulting in a torn or stretched anterior longitudinal ligament.
When an auto accident is involved, the resulting whiplash is usually a CAD injury. From cadaver studies, we know that the spines of vehicle occupants who are struck from behind compress and then hyper-extend at the moment of impact. Motion similar to a rear-end collision might also cause whiplash in situations such as:
- amusement park rides
- sports injuries
- airplane travel
- being hit, kicked, or shaken
Delayed Onset of Symptoms
One of the biggest problems with whiplash is that it usually takes a while before you know that it is there. If you are hurt in a car accident and feel the pain immediately, you can be treated on scene for your injury and it will be properly documented in the police report. However, the chances are that you will not even know you have whiplash while you still have emergency personnel close at hand. Most symptoms of whiplash are slow to appear, therefore you may not know that you have it for a few days.
It can be problematic if you develop signs of whiplash later. Your insurance company or the at-fault third party might use any statements that you may have made indicating that you were not in pain at the scene of an accident against you. To that end, it might be best to decline from commenting on your physical condition until after you have seen a doctor.
If You have Whiplash because of an Accident
If you develop whiplash after being hurt in an accident, you need to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. Filing all the necessary paperwork for insurance claims and lawsuits can be an involved and complicated process. Having a well-versed legal advisor at such a time could prove invaluable. Also, depending on the circumstances, there are various time limits to consider. A good lawyer can make sure you never miss a deadline.
Personal Injury Documentation
It is not easy to prove a whiplash case. For one thing, there is the social stigma attached to it. Film and TV depictions of whiplash victims often show someone perpetrating a fraud. For another, there is no definitive medical test to diagnose the condition with. Medical imaging such as, MRIs and X-rays, do not depict whiplash. Doctor’s diagnose whiplash primarily based on reported symptoms.
For this reason, insurance companies are ready to fight tooth and nail to deny whiplash claims. According to the Whiplash Prevention Campaign, Canadian’s make two million whiplash claims every year. This reality provides incentive for insurers to deny every payout possible.
The best approach to successfully suing for whiplash is a well-documented medical history. A rich paper trail will not only establish a solid history, but it also says a lot about you as a person. When an insurance company’s lawyers are willing to do anything to cast doubt on your personal integrity, documentation can be a real saving grace. When your complaints line up with corroborating evidence provided by medical professionals, it speaks volumes about your personal integrity.
Be sure to keep track of the following in a journal:
- medical appointments
- treatment progress
The High Cost of Chronic Pain
Looks can be deceiving, especially when you consider the invisible, difficult to diagnose aches and pains associated with long-term whiplash. Others may not be able to see that you are injured, and your medical team might be hard pressed to produce evidence of injury. But your suffering is real. If you are not responsible or only partially responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you could be entitled to compensation. The expense associated with medical treatments and therapy for chronic whiplash can really add up.
If you are suffering from chronic whiplash, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to see that you get the compensation you deserve. Consult an experienced lawyer as soon as you can to see if you have a case.
Contact the Team at Mackesy Smye LLP Today
Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Mackesy Smye LLP today by using the form below if you or a loved one is unjustly suffering from a whiplash injury. Whether you were injured in a car accident, a slip and fall incident, or any other means, our dedicated team will offer you a free consultation on your case and advise you on the best way to get the compensation you deserve.