In a car accident or other motor vehicle collision, whiplash is a very common injury. Whiplash results when the neck is subjected to hyperflexion (backward movement) and hyperextension (forward movement) in rapid succession. In plain English, the neck is whipped forward and back very quickly, causing injury.

What is Whiplash?

These physical impacts to the neck often cause serious injuries to neck and upper torso, including muscles such as the upper rhomboids and trapezium. The damage caused by whiplash can also include intervertebral joint and disc damage, damage to the ligaments and cervical spine injury, and other orthopedic injuries. In severe car collisions, this type of motion can also cause mild to severe traumatic brain injury.

When intervertebral joints and discs are damage during a whiplash injury, the muscles and nerves of the spine will also often become damaged in such a way as to cause future pain and suffering. Some whiplash accidents may permanently damage the tissues around the neck, making the whiplash injury victim more susceptible to injury in the future. A civil claim for damages for whiplash injuries will include claims for pain and suffering, lost wages, and past and future medical expenses.

Ten percent of all whiplash injuries result in permanent disability in auto accident crash cases. Worse yet, in one out of every seven whiplash cases, the victim's physical and mental symptoms will last longer than three years from the date of the accident.

Studies have shown that rear impact car wrecks, even at speeds as low as 2.5 miles per hour, can cause whiplash. Most of these studies have been written and conducted by the Society for Automotive Engineering (SAE), which has conducted extensive research regarding whiplash injuries. Among these and other respected groups, it is well documented that low-velocity impacts are capable of causing significant injuries. These studies show that vehicles that do not sustain damage in low-speed impacts can produce correspondingly higher dynamic loadings on their occupants to those which plastically deform under the same or possible more severe impact conditions. 

In other words, even a very minor accident, with little or no damage to your vehicle, can result in a severe case of whiplash.

Whiplash: What to do After an Accident 

If you have been in a car wreck and experience any symptoms of whiplash, we strongly advise that you ride in an ambulance and seek medical attention at a hospital. This way, you can ensure that your neck is stabilized by a hard or soft collar, depending on your condition. And you can be sure to get the care you need immediately.

When you arrive at the hospital, you should tell your medical provider how the injury occurred, point out the approximate speed and direction of the vehicles involved in the motor vehicle collision, or relate to the doctor specifically what the mechanism of your whiplash injury was. 

Always tell your doctor how severe your symptoms are. If the doctor asks on a follow-up visit how you are doing, don’t say “better” when you are still experiencing pain. It may seem obvious to you that you meant that you have improved, but a defense attorney will argue that if you were “better” at that time, then something else must have happened to cause your pain. Instead, just tell the doctor the level and type of pain you are having, and leave out vague terms like “okay” and “better”. Obviously, if you are pain free, you can relate this to your doctor. If your pain comes and goes, tell the doctor this, as well.

Contact our whiplash attorneys to discuss your injury, and let our experienced team guide you through your medical treatment. Contact us online or our Atlanta office now at 404-622-5337.

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