What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that primarily affects the neck and cervical spine. It can occur as a result of many different types of accidents that involve blunt-force trauma to a person’s upper body, such as car crashes, sports accidents, and commercial truck collisions. Annually, more than 2 million people in the U.S. are treated in emergency rooms for whiplash injuries.
If whiplash goes untreated after an accident, it can lead to chronic neck or back pain, cervical spine issues, and long-lasting mobility and coordination problems. While there are several types of treatment available to reduce the effects of whiplash injuries, there isn’t a cure for catastrophic whiplash injuries that affect the spinal cord or other parts of the body.
If you or someone you love has prolonged back pain, difficulty walking, or other complications after a severe accident associated with whiplash, you could be entitled to compensation. The STL car accident lawyers at The Dixon Injury Firm are committed to fighting for the rights of car accident victims and recovering the maximum amount of damages available on their behalf.
Common Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash is a common term used to describe an injury to the soft tissues of the neck. The soft tissues of the human neck are made up primarily of the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Unusual forces applied to these soft tissues, such as the forces involved in a car accident, force the neck to move outside of its normal range of movement. Forcing the neck outside of its normal range of movement often results in tears, strains, and other types of injuries to the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Whiplash is a non-medical term covering a variety of injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the neck. Doctors will often use more specific terms—such as cervical sprain, cervical strain, or hyperextension—to describe an injury which could otherwise be known as whiplash.
One of the most common causes of whiplash is auto accidents. The belted occupant of a motor vehicle is seated with his or her back pressed against a hard seat. When a person is buckled into a motor vehicle, his or her neck is a highly vulnerable support system for the head. The rapid front-to-back and side-to-side forces involved in a car crash are responsible for countless neck injuries.
Whiplash is often caused by a sudden crash or impact from behind. A seatbelt may have prevented a person’s body from being thrown forward, but it cannot stop the individual’s head from moving forward as a result of the force of the impact. In these types of accidents, the person’s head typically moves forward and then backwards, making an S-shape deformation on the neck area.
Aside from vehicular accidents, whiplash injuries can also be caused by rollercoaster rides, extreme sports, or even assault. It is also associated with shaken baby syndrome.
Symptoms of Whiplash
In the first few days after the accident, the victim may feel gradually increasing pain and stiffness, mainly on the posterior part of the neck. These symptoms can also radiate to the head, shoulder, and/or arms. If discomfort is felt, medical consult must be done to prevent further injury. Problems in the bowels and bladder are also indications of a severe form of whiplash.
Confirmation of whiplash injury can be seen in imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, depending on if the bones, muscles, and/or ligaments are affected.
What to Do If You Think You Have Suffered Whiplash
It is extremely important to note that the physical damage to a vehicle may not relate to the intensity of an injury. It should also be noted that wearing a seatbelt will not prevent a whiplash injury. Additionally, the signs and symptoms of whiplash following a car crash may not present themselves until hours after the accident; you may not even fully notice your injury until the next day. The adrenaline following a crash often causes victims to overlook neck injuries.
That being said, be on the lookout for common signs of whiplash, including swelling of the neck, neck pain, tenderness around the back of your neck, muscle spasms, limited movement of the neck, and shooting pain from your neck into your shoulders. Radiating or shooting pain is also the sign of a much more serious injury and should be treated carefully.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of whiplash after a crash, you should call 911. Do not attempt to move. Seek medical attention and follow all of your doctor’s orders regarding treatment and ongoing care.
If you or a loved one suffered a neck injury, including whiplash, in an auto accident, you should also contact a personal injury lawyer to request information regarding your right to reimbursement for your injury. Whiplash is often the first sign of a more serious injury, and it is important you do not accept any offer from an insurance company before you are aware of the full extent of your injury.
Insurance companies pressure accident victims to accept low settlements immediately after a crash to avoid future liability for the actual injury. Allow our legal team to stand up to the insurance adjusters and seek the full, fair compensation you are owed.
The Effects of Whiplash
Most whiplash injuries heal within one to two weeks after an accident, but severe whiplash often leads to chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain that can inhibit a person’s overall life. According to U.S. whiplash statistics, out of the thousands of people living with whiplash injuries after an accident, 60% require long-term care to manage symptoms.
Treatment for whiplash can include medication, physical therapy, and surgery, all of which can be costly and significantly contribute to a victim’s stress after the accident. When you hire The Dixon Injury Firm to represent your whiplash claim, you are choosing a team of attorneys that has the experience and knowledge required to recover the maximum amount of compensation for your harm and losses.
If you suffered severe whiplash in a motor vehicle accident and have chronic pain or are struggling with medical expenses, mental or emotional distress, or other damages, our St. Louis whiplash lawyers can help.
Call us today at (314) 208-2808 to schedule your free and confidential consultation.
- Do’s & Don’ts of a Car Accident
- Types of Car Accidents
- Common Car Accident Injuries
- Compensation For Car Accidents
- Insurance Policy Claims
Certain first-aid procedures can be done if whiplash injury is suspected. These include:
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (up to 1.8g daily), acetaminophen (up to 4g daily), and mefenamic acid (up to 1.5g daily) until the pain is relieved. These adult dosages should not be taken all at once and must be in divided doses and intervals. If allergic reactions occur, discontinue use and seek immediate medical attention.
- Apply ice over the affected neck area (or where the pain is felt the strongest) for the first 48-72 hours. Thereafter, a warm compress or a warm bath can help reduce the inflammation.
- To reduce the pain and swelling, reduce body movements and physical activity as much as possible. Slow ROM exercises can be performed to reduce spasms and promote good circulation. A physical therapist can also assist you on these proper stretching exercises.
- A gentle massage on the area can soothe the pain. Never apply deep pressure on the affected area to prevent further injury.
- Maintaining a good posture and keeping the back supported is also important. Also, sleeping on a firm bed mattress without a pillow or a neck pillow can help normalize the shape of the neck.
- When discomfort is more frequent, a soft neck collar can be used to relieve the discomfort but only for a short period of time as it may cause immobility of the area.
If the whiplash injury is severe and the pain lasts for more than six weeks, medical consult and possible surgical intervention can be done, most especially when the intervertebral discs in the spine are affected or herniated. Radiofrequency neurotomy had promising results of reducing the chronic pain caused by this injury.
The outlook for recovery for those with whiplash injuries is high, with only around 6 to 18% of whiplash victims suffering permanent disability.
Preventing Whiplash Injuries
There are several ways to reduce the risk of suffering a whiplash injury. First and foremost, take proper precautions to avoid a motor vehicle accident when driving. Always follow all traffic laws and rules of the road.
Additionally, head rests in your vehicle can help reduce neck injuries from a car accident. It should be positioned properly according to height.
If you have already sustained a whiplash injury, regular and proper ROM exercises on the neck with guided medical consult can reduce the chance of the discomfort returning.
Filing a Whiplash Injury Lawsuit in Missouri
Unfortunately, because whiplash symptoms do not always appear right away, many car accident victims unknowingly accept low settlement offers from the liable insurance company without realizing the full extent of their injuries. Because of this, it is absolutely critical that you speak to an attorney first, before talking to anyone from the other person’s insurance company.
Whiplash settlement amounts vary based on the specifics of each case and whether the victim’s claim is represented by an attorney. A St. Louis whiplash lawyer from our firm can quickly assess your case, gather evidence to support your whiplash injury claim, and submit a strong claim against the at-fault party’s insurer.
Contact The Dixon Injury Firm Today
When you choose The Dixon Injury Firm to handle your whiplash claim, you are choosing attorneys that have your best interests at heart and who will do everything in their power to recover the most compensation for your claim. To date, our St. Louis injury accident lawyers have successfully secured more than $50 million for injured clients throughout Missouri, and we are ready to fight for you, too.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132
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