If you have been involved in a vehicle accident, especially one where you were hit from behind, you may have experienced what’s called a “whiplash” neck injury. A whiplash injury to the neck is due to forceful, very rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. Imagine the cracking of a whip – whiplash injuries are similar to that.
Symptoms of a Whiplash Injury
This type of injury normally involves damage to either the nerves, tendons, discs, or muscles in the neck. People can have a variety of conditions related to the injury. The most common indications and symptoms of a whiplash injury include:
- Blurred vision
- Concentration or memory problems
- Low back pain
- Loss of range of motion
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Pain in your hand or arm
- Numbness in your arm or hand
- Ringing in your ears
How Long Will the Symptoms Last?
It is important to see a doctor right away and get a complete exam and diagnosis to see if you have a neck injury, such as a fracture, nerve injury, muscle damage, or other injuries. A whiplash injury can include damage to soft tissue that can’t be viewed on standard X-rays, so other diagnostic tests may have to be performed:
- X-ray – Electromagnetic radiation beams produce photographic images of internal tissues, bones, and organs. These can diagnose fractures, arthritis, or dislocations.
- MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging – Large magnets and radio waves are used to make detailed images of bone, organs, and soft tissue structures in your body. The images are transferred onto a computer for viewing to detect specific damage.
- CT – Computed tomography scan – Computer technology to take a series of X-rays in horizontal, or axial, images of your body. It consists of detailed images of any part of your body, and are more detailed than typical X-rays.
Treatment for a Whiplash Injury
It is imperative that you get examined and treated by a physician specializing in whiplash trauma without delay. Not only will you ensure your health is protected and any pain can be brought under control, but your injuries and medical condition will be documented. These documents, as well as your doctor’s testimony, will be needed to help prove your damages.
Depending on the physician’s diagnosis and findings, as well as the extent of pain you may be experiencing, treatment for your neck injury may include the following:
- Neck collar
- Muscle relaxing or pain medications
- Ice applications for the first 24 hours
- Physical therapy
- Injections of Lidocaine
- Gentle, mild movement after 24 hours
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as Aleve or Motrin
- Osteopathic manipulation of the neck or back
Complications from the Accident and Injuries
While many victims who sustain whiplash injury usually recover within a few months, some have chronic pain or significant physical problems for many months or even longer. Some require expensive, ongoing care and medical visits that you may be entitled to be compensated for by the insurance company of those responsible for your injuries.
If you have suffered injuries from an automobile accident, you contact an experienced and successful personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings and mental and physical pain.
Protecting Your Rights to Compensation
In addition to hiring an attorney, there are important steps to take right away to document and gather key evidence relating to the accident and any injuries you may have suffered. Many victims lose all or part of their rights to be compensated because of the failure to gather the following information and evidence that could prove their case:
- Names and addresses of the driver and any passengers
- Names and addresses of anyone of any witnesses to the accident
- Insurance information so a claim can be filed
- Photograph and document damages to the automobile
- Photograph and document any injuries to you and others
- Promptly document details of the accident, including how it happened and where it occurred
Types of Damage That Are Recoverable
There is one main category of damages and whiplash injury compensation your attorney may file for, to compensate you for your injuries.
Compensatory (Actual) Damages: Financial compensation for losses that you have actually suffered from your injury. These damages are subdivided into:
- Economic damages – Financial losses, such medical bills, expenses for damages or replacement of your vehicle, lost income, and more.
- Non-economic damages – losses that don’t have a specific dollar value, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and disability.
How to Make a Claim for Whiplash Injury Compensation After a Car Accident
If you have sustained whiplash and other injuries which caused a loss of income and medical expenses, you may be eligible for PIP or personal injury protection benefits under Massachusetts law, even if it was your fault. This includes up to $10,000 compensation. Your attorney can claim any additional damages beyond the PIP payments for which he may have to file a lawsuit in court.
He or she can also pursue a third-party claim against the responsible party’s insurer and any excess damages against the insured for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. The following are the normal requirements to be entitled to non-economic damages for any continuing loss of income and ongoing medical expenses.
Injuries involving whiplash claims are sometimes not taken as seriously by insurance companies as there are no visible fractures or visual damage apparent on X-rays or CT scans. This can sometimes cause a claim denial initially. Nonetheless, whiplash injury can cause significant pain, and in some cases, long term medical bills that you should be compensated for. The statute of limitations to file a claim in Massachusetts courts for your whiplash injuries is only three years.
That’s why it is so important to get your facts and evidence about the accident together without delay and hire an experienced personal injury attorney to get the whiplash injury compensation you deserve.