A whiplash injury is often referred to as an acceleration-deceleration injury or a hyperextension-hyperflexion injury. As auto accident attorneys here at Russell and Hill PLLC, we see these injuries often resulting from rear-end accidents when the front of one vehicle crashes into the rear of another vehicle. Rear-end collisions might be the most common type of motor vehicle impact, and whiplash injuries may well be the most common type of injury suffered in a rear-end impact.
How the injury occurs
Rarely does the occupant of a motor vehicle have the opportunity to react before it’s rear-ended. Upon impact, occupants are violently thrown forward. That sudden acceleration pushes the occupant’s seat into the his or her back. The head and neck then snap back, and then they snap forward again, all in about a half of a second. The injury might be felt immediately, but sometimes it doesn’t present itself for up to 24 hours.
Symptoms of whiplash
Joint dysfunction caused by torn muscles and ligaments causes loss of range of motion in the neck. With that come stiffness, headaches, blurred vision and shoulder pain. Should a spinal disc in the neck be damaged, one or both of the arms might suffer intermittent tingling, numbness or even pain. Grasp, hand strength and motor function might also be adversely influenced, and surgery might be in order.
Mayo Clinic advises that a doctor’s examination of a whiplash patient will consist of determining:
- Range of motion of the head and neck
- At what degree of motion pain results
- Limb reflexes, strength and sensation
- Neck and shoulder tenderness
After the physical examination, the doctor will likely order one of the following radiological studies:
- CT scan
- MRI study
Of these, an MRI study of the neck is likely to be the most definitive radiological test. It can show injuries to the spinal cord, discs and ligaments. It’s also the most expensive of the three.
A wide variety of treatment alternatives are available for these types of injuries. Conservative treatment ranges from over-the-counter medications with ice and heat to prescription medications. Chiropractic care and physical therapy are not at all uncommon. Most whiplash injuries resolve within 90 days with appropriate care and treatment. Some can last a lifetime, especially if surgical spinal fusion is involved.
If you’re able to prove that your whiplash injury was caused as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, you’re eligible for an award of damages. Those damages might include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
We represent injured clients across Washington and Oregon. Once you retain us, we start work on your case immediately. If you suffered injuries in a car accident as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, contact us right away at 888-379-9517 for a free consultation and case evaluation. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.