For Many Accident Victims, Whiplash Is Serious and Lasts a Long Time
When it comes to personal injury claims, there may be no injury so widely misunderstood as whiplash.
That is concerning because whiplash is also one of the most common personal injury claims, and misconceptions have helped to feed some unfortunate stereotypes and stigmas surrounding the whole notion of whiplash.
There are those who assume that whiplash is merely an exaggeration by hypochondriacs or by plaintiffs who are eager to “cash in.”
Others might accept it as a legitimate injury but still think of whiplash as inherently mild — a fleeting bout of soreness that doesn’t stick around long enough to merit complaint.
On the contrary, however, whiplash is a very real medical complication with varying degrees of severity. While most cases resolve in a matter of weeks or months, it is not uncommon for auto accident victims and other injured people to suffer long-term effects from whiplash.
That might sound surprising, but once you understand whiplash from an anatomical, neuromuscular perspective, the medical reality becomes easier to accept.
What Is Whiplash?
When doctors writing in medical journals describe the effects of whiplash, they tend to use terminology like “cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD),” “whiplash-associated disorders (WAD),” or chronic whiplash syndrome — all terms that refer to the traumatic impact that whiplash has on the anatomy of the neck and surrounding areas, as well as the inflammatory responses that some people’s bodies have to the initial injury.
The Mayo Clinic defines whiplash more simply, as an injury caused by “forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.”
The important thing to realize is that when a whiplash injury occurs, it can affect the soft tissue, the muscles, the tendons, and the nerves in the neck — and even the spine itself.
The Most Common Causes of Whiplash
Auto accidents are, by far, the most common cause of whiplash in Nebraska. Rear-end accidents are especially associated with whiplash.
But whiplash can happen in any accident where someone’s head or neck is suddenly and forcefully rocked back and forth. Other common causes of whiplash include:
- Roller coasters and other amusement park rides
- Skiing accidents
- Contact-sport injuries (e.g. boxing, football, extreme sports, karate, etc.)
- Physical abuse / assault and battery
- Horseback riding
- Slip and fall accidents
- Falls from heights
- Bicycle accidents
Short-Term Symptoms of Whiplash
Even the short-term symptoms of whiplash do not always manifest themselves right away. While some victims will experience these symptoms mere minutes or hours after an injury, in most cases, they take days or even weeks to develop.
Common short-term symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain and aching in the neck
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain (known as “referred pain” from the neck)
- A “pins and needles” feeling in the neck and/or surrounding area
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
More serious cases of whiplash might also produce cognitive symptoms in the short term, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling irritated easily
- Becoming easily distracted
While every patient is different, as a general rule, the more symptoms a person experiences (and the more severely pronounced those symptoms are), the greater the likelihood of experiencing long-term whiplash.
Long-Term Effects of Whiplash
Some cases of whiplash resolve within a few weeks or months, especially if the victim receives adequate medical treatment soon after the injury. But in other cases, the pain and restriction of a whiplash injury can go on for years — or even a lifetime.
The long-term effects of whiplash can include:
- Chronic pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders
- Ongoing bouts of dizziness
- Ringing in the ears that is constant or comes and goes
- Upper or lower back pain
- Severe, chronic headaches
- Jaw pain
- Numbness, weakness, or sensory symptoms in the hands, arms, or legs
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty sleeping
- Memory problems
- Ongoing difficulty concentrating; permanent personality changes
Victims are more likely to experience the long-term effects of whiplash if they:
- Are involved in a serious auto accident
- Do not receive adequate medical treatment soon after the injury
- Suffer severe injury to the ligaments, discs, or joints in the neck
- Suffer a spinal fracture or other serious injury near the neck
- Re-injure the neck during the initial healing process
- Already suffer from preexisting neck conditions
- Experience a severe inflammatory response to the whiplash
Long-term whiplash is more common than you might think. A 2005 study found that 71% of people who experience an initial case of whiplash still have at least one significant whiplash symptom seven years after the injury. In the same study, the average amount of time that patients reported for full recovery from whiplash was two years.
WebMD also reported a 2001 Danish study showing that patients who experience particularly severe whiplash are likely to experience those symptoms for at least one full year.
Suffering from the Long-Term Effects of Whiplash? Know Your Rights.
Whiplash can have a substantial impact on your day-to-day routine and your overall quality of life. It also requires ongoing medical care and time away from work.
If your whiplash was caused by someone else’s negligence — a careless or reckless driver, for example — you shouldn’t have to suffer those burdens alone or pay for them out of your own pocket.
Nebraska personal injury law recognizes whiplash as a compensable damage. In other words, people who have suffered whiplash because of negligence are entitled to recover financial compensation from the negligent party (or parties).
In many cases, the party ultimately responsible for providing that compensation is an insurance company. Unfortunately, insurance companies are known for paying out as little as possible, no matter how clearly obligated they might be. But an experienced personal injury attorney can change all that.
If you or someone you love is suffering from short-term or long-term whiplash, we urge you to talk with an experienced Nebraska personal injury attorney right away. You might be entitled to much more than you realize.
Schedule a Free Case Review with an Omaha Whiplash Injury Lawyer Today
Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C. is a Nebraska personal injury law firm with many years of experience and a long track record of getting injured Nebraskans the compensation they deserve.
We realize how serious whiplash is, and we are prepared to take a firm, aggressive stand against the insurance companies on the other side.
Remember, however, that strict time limits apply to most personal injury claims in Nebraska. So please don’t make the mistake of ignoring your whiplash symptoms or putting off a claim for the long-term effects of whiplash.
Seek medical attention and talk with a car accident lawyer right away.
To schedule a FREE case evaluation with an experienced Omaha whiplash injury attorney in our office, please contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C. as soon as possible. We do not charge a fee for our services unless and until you win.
We are proud to offer legal representation to auto-accident victims, and others who have suffered injuries from the negligence of others, all across Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, and beyond. Give us a call today.