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In the aftermath of a car crash, you may very well assume that you don’t have injuries. However, the adrenaline you experience in the immediate moments of a car crash can mask injuries that were a direct result of the other driver’s negligence. This is a particularly common occurrence for whiplash injuries. Often, whiplash doesn’t become apparent until a day or so after you’ve sustained the injuries.
Whiplash can occur for a number of reasons. However, whiplash is most commonly caused by car accidents, specifically rear-end collisions.
Why Is Whiplash So Common After Rear-end Collisions?
When traveling in a vehicle, your body is moving at a set speed. When you are involved in a crash, the vehicle abruptly stops moving; however, your body is still in motion at the same speed it was. The abrupt and sudden stop causes a forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement in the neck or torso, which leads to whiplash injuries.
Whiplash has been observed in the following types of crashes:
- Low-speed crashes, such as creeping along at 5 MPH in bumper-to-bumper traffic on jammed highways
- Moderate-speed collisions, such as service roads with a speed limit of 30 MPH
- High-speed collisions, which can also result in additional serious and fatal injuries
In addition to the speed the negligent driver is traveling, the size of the vehicle can also play a significant role in how serious your whiplash injuries are.
How Soon After a Crash Will I Notice Whiplash?
Symptoms of whiplash usually appear within 24 hours of your car crash, but sometimes it can take a few days for symptoms to develop. A whiplash injury can last for several weeks. However, others may experience chronic whiplash that can linger for years or for a lifetime.
What Does Whiplash Feel Like?
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Headaches, often at the base of the skull
- Worsening pain with neck movement
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Blurred vision
- Tenderness or pain in the upper arms and shoulders
Chronic whiplash can last for six months or more. Signs of chronic whiplash include the following:
- Pain in upper and lower back regions
- Severe headaches
- Blurry vision
- Constant fatigue
- Jaw pain
- Ringing in the ears
Whiplash Injuries Can Have Lasting Effects on Your Quality of Life
Whiplash injuries can result in serious long-term issues that can limit your physical abilities. You can deal with significant lifelong pain and discomfort. These types of injuries can cost you lost wages and decrease your overall quality of life. In fact, according to one study, 7% of people who experience whiplash injuries do not return to work. This risk is especially true for those who work in heavy manual labor industries.
When Should I Seek Medical Assistance After a Car Crash?
You should seek medical attention immediately after a car crash. Even if you feel fine after a car crash, the rush of adrenaline you get after a crash can mask the injuries your body has just suffered. Car crashes are traumatic experiences. You need a swift and accurate examination to ensure that you don’t have any fractures, slipped discs, deep bruising or other injuries that can worsen over time.
What Can I Expect with Whiplash Medical Treatment?
Generally speaking, your medical team’s treatment will largely depend on the severity of your injuries. The three main goals of whiplash treatment are usually the following:
- Manage your pain
- Restore your normal range of motion
- Get you back to your normal activities
One of the most effective treatments to minimize the long-term impact of back and neck injuries is chiropractic care. Manual manipulation of the spine is a procedure chiropractors use to restore the normal movement and position of the spinal vertebrae. Other treatment plans may include mobilization, massage, or rehabilitative exercises.
Chiropractic care can improve the patient’s ability to turn and tilt the head and reduce pain, soreness, and stiffness.
You may also be prescribed over-the-counter NSAIDs or other pain medications.
Protecting Your Rights After a Car Crash
Understand that everything you say and do after a car crash can be used against you, even if you are not at-fault. The insurance company expects you to make certain mistakes so they can pay as little as possible. Injuries can appear days or weeks after a crash, so it’s important that you protect yourself every step of the way. If you’ve been involved in a crash, consider the following steps:
1. Do not apologize.
Be polite, but do not apologize. We are programmed by society to say “sorry” from a very young age. Unfortunately, this works in the insurance company’s favor. An apology can be used to prove that you believed you were at-fault, which could hurt your claim.
2. Never say “I’m OK.”
The insurance company could use this statement to claim that your injuries weren’t the result of their negligent insured driver or that your injuries came through some other means.
3. State that you will be seeking medical attention.
Seeking the attention of a medical provider as soon as possible after a crash will make it difficult for the insurance company to attribute your injuries to anything else but the negligence of their insured driver.
4. Follow your doctor’s orders.
Following the advice from doctors or other medical providers is an essential part of your physical recovery. Make sure you attend all scheduled appointments.
5. Don’t sign anything.
Never sign any documents without having a lawyer review the documents. It’s possible that you may be signing something that releases the insurance company from any future claims.
6. Don’t speak to the insurance company.
Once again, the insurance company is working hard to devalue your claim. Anything you can say can be used against you to devalue or deny your claim.
7. Get a car accident lawyer.
Hiring a lawyer after a car crash is the best way to protect your rights. After a car crash, medical bills will pile up—bills that you shouldn’t have to pay. If you were injured because of another party’s negligence, call a car accident lawyer right away to make sure your rights are protected.
If the insurance company reaches out to you after you’ve hired the best personal injury lawyer for your case, do not speak to them. Your lawyer will have sent a letter of representation, so they should already be aware that you are being represented.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
Our Car Accident Attorneys have seen the gamut of personal injuries and cases. Your attorney will know that while you may not be experiencing any pain in the present, you can develop serious pain over time that may require surgery to correct. Seeking treatment immediately after a negative event can strengthen your claim for compensation. It is much harder for an insurance company to justify its refusal to pay your claim if you received medical care shortly after a car crash.
The Carlson Law Firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations with our attorneys. Our caring and compassionate attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you get the compensation you deserve. We care, and we can help.