“Whiplash” is an injury that occurs often in certain types of automobile accidents. It may also be called “acceleration/deceleration injury,” “hypertension/hyperflexion,” “neck sprain” or “neck strain.” Whiplash injuries are problematic because they may not appear until well after the accident and it can be tough to determine the exact cause of the whiplash. When rear end collisions occur, the nature of the crash puts the occupants of the front car in great danger of whiplash. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades, low back pain, pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand, dizziness and/or ringing in the ears or blurred vision. If whiplash emerges as the result of an automobile accident, it is a good idea to see a doctor and hire a lawyer to be sure that the insurance company pays due compensation.

When a rear end collision occurs and a car crashes into the back of the car in front of it, the forward car is suddenly thrust from rest into motion. This thrust can have a whipping action on the neck. When the initial impact occurs in a rear end collision, the forward car’s occupants are often unaware of the impending collision and do not have time to brace themselves. The initial thrust of the impacted car is forward and up and the bodies of the occupants typically move with the seats they are belted into. The head, however, rests above the seat and doesn’t move forward with the body at the initial impact, but is thrown back (at 5mph the head pulls 5 g’s of force). The restraints of cars cause a rapid deceleration of the body after the initial impact in an accident and this deceleration slows down the bodies of the occupants which are belted to the car itself. This deceleration is dangerous to the neck because the head doesn’t have anything to restrain it and it goes from being thrown back to being whipped forward. This is typically how whiplash injuries occur.

About 20% of people involved in rear end collisions exhibit symptoms of whiplash. The majority of people don’t experience long term problems, but there are a small percentage of people who acquire chronic conditions that can lead to severe pain and/or disability. If a whiplash injury has occurred because of a rear end collision, symptoms should be evident within a few days. There can be an initial delay of symptoms of whiplash, but they can emerge anywhere from 24-72 hours after an accident. Whiplash injuries are more common in females than in males, and females tend to have symptoms that persist longer and are more likely to become chronic.

In addition to the symptoms listed above, some people experience cognitive, somatic, or psychological conditions such as memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or depression. While we understand the cause of whiplash injuries, the exact damage done to each particular body is often greatly different and, at times, hard to determine. If you experience a whiplash injury, you should immediately seek the help of a doctor. Often, injuries sustained are soft tissue injuries and will reveal themselves with simple x-rays, but sometimes the damage done by a whiplash injury can be hard to determine and extra tests may be necessary. The current movement in the treatment of whiplash injuries is going away from the idea of immobilization, frequently with a cervical collar, and instead moving toward a treatment that encourages early movement. Pain medication or muscle-relaxers are often prescribed to provide relief for whiplash victims and some people require some physical therapy to heal the neck. 75% of people with whiplash injury had their symptoms leave within several months.

If involved in an automobile accident that results in whiplash injury, it is a good idea to retain the services of a good lawyer to ensure that all the claims owed to you are paid in full. It can be difficult to deal with insurance companies when a whiplash injury is sustained. Since whiplash injuries can occur at very low speeds, there may be minimal or no damage to the vehicles, leading the insurance company to claim that no one must have been injured. Frequently, a lawyer is needed to see that the insurance companies pay the required claims in full. To protect your rights under the law, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer if you sustain whiplash injuries.