Attorney at Law

What To Do If You Think You Have A Whiplash Injury

Daisy Rogozinsky
April 11, 2022
Last reviewed by
Boruch Burnham, Esq.
February 16, 2023

If you are in a motor vehicle accident and have pain in your neck afterward, you may be wondering if you might have whiplash. After all, whiplash is the most common injury caused by car accidents. If you do have whiplash, it’s important to have it properly treated so that you can make a complete recovery. 

It’s important to note that, if you do have whiplash, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and any time you had to take off of work to heal. Properly verifying if you have whiplash will help you understand whether or not to begin the process of making an insurance injury claim, or pursue other avenues of legal recourse against responsible parties. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through what you should do if you think you might have whiplash injuries. 

1. Know the Causes of Whiplash

Whiplash is a type of neck injury caused by forceful, back-and-forth movement of the neck. It happens when the structures in your neck, including the discs, ligaments, nerves, and muscles, are damaged. In some situations, a blood vessel can tear, releasing inflammatory substances and causing swelling and pain. 

Whiplash is most often caused by car accidents in which the individual is hit from behind. However, there are also other things that can cause whiplash. These include:

  • Sports injury
  • Physical abuse
  • Assault
  • Falls

In short, any situation in which your head moves rapidly back and forth might cause whiplash. 

2. Know the Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash

If you have been in one of the situations listed above, you should know which symptoms of whiplash to look out for. Because it can occur even in minor accidents at low speeds and symptoms may take days and weeks to appear, people don’t always realize they have whiplash. That’s why it’s so important to familiarize yourself with the signs.

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain
  • Muscle spasm
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, usually starting at the base of the skull
  • Stiff neck
  • Tenderness, pain, tingling, or numbness in the shoulders, upper back, or arms
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

In the most severe cases, whiplash can also cause neurological damage, trouble concentrating, memory problems, sleep issues, and even depression.

3. See a Medical Professional

If you have some or all of the symptoms of whiplash following a motor vehicle accident, it’s highly recommended to see a medical professional as soon as possible. Visit your doctor, an urgent care clinic, or another emergency department. The professionals there will be able to diagnose whether or not you have whiplash through examinations, hearing your description of your symptoms, and running diagnostic tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. 

Don’t hesitate to go to the doctor even if it’s been days and/or weeks since your car accident; it’s totally normal for whiplash symptoms to be delayed.

If you are diagnosed with whiplash, your doctor will most likely recommend that you take pain relievers and/or muscle relaxants depending on the severity of your muscle spasms and other symptoms. They might also suggest you apply heat to the affected area and perform certain physical therapy exercises. To increase your chances of healing as quickly and completely as possible, follow all of your doctor’s advice, showing up for follow-up appointments and physical therapy if necessary. 

One more reason why it’s important to see a doctor after your car accident is that it can help you document the extent of your injuries so that you can obtain fair compensation for them, and it is  generally much easier to obtain compensation from insurers if you can show that you  sought medical treatment for it. Another important factor to take into account is that if you fail to take steps to seek treatment as soon as , and your conditions worsen due to such failure, you may not be entitled to compensation for injuries and damages attributable to those worsened conditions.

4. Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer

If you do decide to seek compensation from an insurance company for your whiplash injury, it’s important to do so with the guidance of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. They can help you navigate the process of filing an injury claim and being paid damages. This can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages like pain and suffering

 The compensation you receive is likely to  ultimately depend on your ability to present a strong claim , which  can be difficult to do independently. A lawyer experienced in pursuing car accident injury claims and negotiating settlements with insurers  can help you navigate the challenges of pursuing your claim and negotiating with an insurer  whose interests are  to pay you as little as possible.

5. Recover

The final thing you should do after a whiplash injury is focus on your recovery. Thankfully, most people who experience whiplash recover within a few months. That being said, it can sometimes take six months or more to recover. This is especially the case if you were in a serious, high-speed car accident or if you had a pre-existing issue with your neck. 

We wish you a full, rapid recovery and a fair insurance payout!

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