If you were to accept the way that television and movies portray whiplash injuries,1 you would believe that they were simply a way for accident victims to scam insurance companies. It has become a common trope for the “injured” victim to claim serious injuries, chronic pain, and an inability to work, only to be later discovered by an investigator taking off his or her neck brace to go dancing or have a workout at the gym.
This portrayal is unfortunate because whiplash injuries can often be extremely serious and have a significant impact on victims’ ability to engage in everyday tasks and their overall quality of life. In addition, the idea that whiplash injuries are somehow “fake” has become pervasive, and many insurance companies view claims involving whiplash with suspicion, often making it difficult for injured victims to get the compensation they deserve. Fortunately, the assistance of an experienced lawyer can often help victims get the help they need as quickly as possible.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs as the result of a forceful and sudden movement of the head back and forth on the neck, as often occurs when a person suddenly accelerates or deceleration. It can often result in serious medical problems, including stiffness, headaches, neck pain, a sensation of pins and needles in the limbs, radiating pain to the neck and shoulders, and back pain.
It is important to note that “whiplash” is not an official medical diagnosis, and may be described by physicians as a neck sprain, hyperextension, hyperflexion, soft-tissue injury, or other names.
What Kinds of Accidents can Cause Whiplash?
Whiplash is commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, particularly rear-end accidents. In a typical whiplash case, the occupants in the front vehicle are unprepared for an impact, so when it occurs the neck muscles are relaxed. As a result, their bodies are suddenly thrust forward while their heads stay in place, causing the head to snap backward and forward violently. Other kinds of accidents can cause whiplash as well, however, including the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents that do not involve a rear-end impact
- Bicycle accidents2
- Slip and fall injuries
- Snowboarding and skiing accidents
- Roller coaster and other amusement park rides
- Intentional assaults
- Sports accidents
- Boating accidents
As mentioned above, many insurance companies are suspicious of claims involving whiplash, making it essential for victims to adequately document and address the injuries they have sustained. Compounding this problem is the fact is that while whiplash is a very real injury, it is not possible to directly observe whiplash, which means that others must rely on the victim’s own description of their pain to determine its severity.
Because of these issues, it is often difficult for people who have sustained a whiplash injury to establish the existence of their injury and its severity. Fortunately, there are certain steps that victims can take to protect their legal rights and ensure that they are able to recover. These include the following:
- See a Physician as Soon as Possible after Your Accident – Many people make the mistake of thinking that their injuries are not that serious and will heal on their own after being involved in an accident. In addition, many whiplash injuries do not become symptomatic for a significant period of time after an accident occurs. As a result, victims may wait for a few days or even weeks to see a doctor after an accident has occurred. When you see a physician immediately, you can make sure that there is a medical record connecting your injuries to your accident and also that your injuries are properly identified and treated.
- Take Notes on How Your Injury has Affected You – As discussed earlier, unlike a laceration or bruise, whiplash is not an injury that you can typically see. For this reason, establishing the severity of a whiplash injury can be difficult. One thing victims can do to help establish the severity of their injury is take notes on how it has affected them. For example, take notes of any pain you experience, activities you choose to forgo due to your injury, headaches you have, sleep disturbances you experience, or any other ways in which the injury has affected you.
Call a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you have sustained a neck or spine injury in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, you should call an experienced lawyer immediately. Attorney Gabriel Levin is a skilled Philadelphia personal injury attorney who is committed to getting the largest settlement or award for each client he represents. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call The Levin Firm today at 215-825-5183 or send us an email through our online contact form.