“Whiplash” refers to a specific type of injury to the muscles and ligaments of the neck. When the neck’s soft tissues extend beyond their typical range of motion, commonly in the back-and-forth motion of a car accident, they can sustain injuries. An individual could also get whiplash while playing sports, on an amusement park ride, or from physical abuse.
The nature of a whiplash injury can lead to immediate or delayed symptoms. Some accident survivors may not realize they have whiplash until days or even weeks after the fact – potentially affecting a personal injury case.
Understanding Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash is common in rear-end collisions when the head and neck move rapidly backward and then forward with immense force. This sudden movement can overextend the soft tissues in the neck, straining them to the point of stretching and tearing. Some people can feel the effects of a whiplash injury right away.
Others may not experience or recognize symptoms for days after the collision. On average, whiplash symptoms will appear within 24 hours of the incident that caused the neck’s tissues to tear. Symptoms of whiplash may include:
- Neck pain
- Stiff neck muscles
- Headache at the base of the skull
- Blurred vision
If you experience ringing in your ears, memory loss, or chronic pain in the head or neck, you might have chronic whiplash. It can be easy to mistake whiplash for a different type of injury or believe your symptoms are “normal” for someone who has been in an accident. Don’t make the mistake of downplaying your symptoms or thinking they’ll go away on their own.
While whiplash isn’t an extremely serious injury, it can result in long-lasting pain, discomfort, and loss of range of motion. Seek medical attention after any type of incident regardless of whether you think you’re injured.
Whiplash and Personal Injury Lawsuits
The timeline for your medical care after a whiplash injury can significantly impact your personal injury claim. It is important to go to a doctor as soon as possible after any incident involving your head or neck. You could have undiagnosed whiplash in need of medical attention.
Delaying treatment could not only worsen your prognosis for healing, but it could also signal to a judge or jury that your injuries weren’t very serious. The defense could use your delay in treatment to argue that you must not have been in a lot of pain if you didn’t see a doctor right away. This is why it’s important to get medical attention even if you aren’t experiencing immediate symptoms.
If at any time you feel pain in your head, numbness or weakness in your arms, or whiplash symptoms that are spreading into your shoulders and arms, go to the doctor immediately. These are signs of a more serious whiplash injury. Scans, tests, and x-rays can help diagnose whiplash even if the patient isn’t feeling any symptoms.
Since every whiplash injury is different, the best way to protect yourself and your rights is to go to the hospital right after any type of personal injury accident. A swift diagnosis can help you heal faster and potentially recover more in a personal injury lawsuit.