Whiplash, also known as neck sprain or strain, is a common injury that often results from a car collision from any direction, not just from behind. Even a slow-speed crash can lead to a whiplash injury.
Although there are no exact estimates regarding the number of neck injuries in US automobile accidents each year, research indicates that more than 869,000 traffic-related cervical spine injuries occur annually. Of these, 841,000 involve whiplash injuries.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury that happens when the neck is bent forcibly backward and forward or vice versa. Many whiplash injuries result from rear-end car accidents that cause sudden acceleration or deceleration. The common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion
- Shoulder or lower back pain
- Headaches, often starting at the base of the skull
- Arm or hand pain or numbness
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Sleep problems
Because these symptoms might resemble those of other medical conditions, someone who thinks they might have sustained a whiplash injury should visit a healthcare provider and receive a diagnosis.
How is whiplash diagnosed and treated?
When diagnosing whiplash, medical professionals will typically conduct a complete medical history, physical examination, and possibly run the following tests:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
Once a whiplash diagnosis has been made, a healthcare provider will provide specific treatment options based on the patient’s age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the injury, and tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies. Common treatments include:
- Ice packs during the first 24 hours
- Cervical neck collar
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin
- Muscle relaxing medications
- Physical therapy
- Osteopathic manipulation
Most people who sustain a whiplash injury recover within a few weeks or months, while others might experience persistent pain for an extended period.
What should I do if I think I suffered whiplash in a Houston car accident?
Knowing what to do for a whiplash injury sustained in a car accident can help safeguard your health, prevent complications, and protect you if you file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages to compensate you for your injury. Here are some steps you can take:
- Seek medical treatment. Left untreated, whiplash can lead to chronic pain and even further injury. Whether your accident was severe or relatively minor, you should get medical help at the scene, visit an emergency room, or set up an appointment with your physician to be evaluated as soon as possible. Since whiplash is considered a soft tissue injury that might not become apparent until hours or days after an accident and may not show up on an x-ray, your doctor might need to perform other tests to diagnose your injury and come up with a treatment plan.
- Follow your doctor’s advice. If you are experiencing mild symptoms, your doctor might advise you to:
- Take over-the-counter pain medication
- Ice the injury to reduce inflammation, followed by heat to relieve the pain
- Wear a soft cervical neck collar for a few weeks to prevent further injury
- Participate in range of motion exercises and physical therapy to strengthen your muscles and reduce pain
- Engage in occupational therapy to help you return to work
- Obtain chiropractic care, massage therapy, and other treatments as directed to help your neck and spine move without pain
- Seek treatment for any psychological symptoms you might develop
To protect your health and give yourself the best chance to make a full recovery, try to make every effort to follow your doctor’s advice. If you later decide that it is necessary to make a personal injury claim for your damages, following your doctor’s advice as much as possible will also help to mitigate your damages and avoid a scenario where the insurance company tries to argue that your injuries are partially your fault because you failed to follow your doctor’s instructions.
- Collect documentation. While you are obtaining treatment, it is critical that you save all the medical records and other information pertaining to your injury to offer proof of the extent of your harm. Be sure to retain copies of the following:
- Ambulance and paramedic records
- Emergency room treatment notes
- Hospital admission forms
- Laboratory results
- Radiology test results
- Doctor’s notes
- Prescription receipts
- Any letters written by medical professionals that pertain to your injury
- Physical therapy records
- Billings related to all treatments
Although it can seem like a lot of work to gather all your medical documentation following a whiplash injury, the information will be essential to receive fair compensation for your damages.
What’s the value of my Houston whiplash injury?
Texas law says you may be entitled to compensation for losses you suffered due to another person’s negligence. Most car accidents occur because of another party’s negligent or unreasonable actions, which is often true in the case of rear-end collisions that lead to whiplash. Although rear-end accidents are a frequent cause of whiplash, other types of crashes involving trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians can also result in whiplash injuries.
Whiplash injuries can be severe, and treating them can be expensive, particularly if you cannot return to work. However, if you make a personal injury claim or file a personal injury lawsuit, you could recover compensation for your damages, which might include:
- Medical expenses – accident-related medical treatment, current, and future
- Physical or rehabilitative therapy – expenses related to strengthening your muscles so you can return to day-to-day activities
- Lost wages – income you lost because your injury prevented you from returning to work
- Diminished earning capacity – a decrease in your income resulting from your inability to continue performing your current job
- Pain and suffering – emotional, mental, psychological, or physical damage you sustained
- Loss of enjoyment of life – your inability to engage in specific activities that you previously enjoyed
- Permanent injury – disabling physical or mental damages that cause irreversible harm
- Property damage – the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Punitive damages – compensation that may be awarded in cases involving egregious and gross negligence or intentional behavior
All accidents and injuries are unique. Our experienced Houston personal injury lawyers can help you investigate how the accident happened, determine who should be held liable, build a strong case, and calculate the compensation you might be entitled to recover. Schedule a free initial consultation with the experienced legal team at The Kishinevsky Law Firm by calling 832-529-1111 or fill out our contact form today.
In April 2015, Leonid Kishinevsky started the Kishinevsky Law Firm, focusing his practice primarily on personal injury litigation. As a personal injury lawyer providing representation to clients throughout the greater Houston area, he assists people who have suffered economic and noneconomic losses and harms due to the fault of other people or companies.