Mayo Clinic defines “whiplash” as “a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” This type of injury is an incredibly common result of rear-end automobile accidents. Such car accidents are generally considered relatively “minor” as far as car-on-car collisions are concerned, thus whiplash is often written off as a relatively “minor” injury.
However, whiplash can be a serious medical condition and can lead to months of headaches, neck pain, bodily stiffness, spinal pain, and an overall reduction in mobility. In especially bad cases, whiplash can lead to chronic pain, tinnitus, dizziness, concentration problems, lapses in memory, difficulty sleeping, and other issues. Needless to say, these problems can have a marked negative effect on the lives and lifestyles of injury victims.
The Whiplash Personal Injury Claim
If you have suffered a whiplash injury in a recent car accident and the other driver was at fault (or mostly at fault) for the collision, then it might be in your best interest to file a personal injury claim. The possible long-term effects of whiplash can lead to lost productivity, medical and physical therapy costs, and personal suffering. Depending on the severity of the injury and your personal career path, whiplash can even impede your ability to do your job adequately. All of these factors have been used to make personal injury claims for other types of cases, and they can substantiate a case for whiplash as well.
However, while whiplash is a legitimate personal injury claim for you to make following a car accident, making and defending such a claim can be complicated and difficult. Here are a few factors you need to know as you go through the claims process.
- Insurance adjusters will be skeptical: If you are dealing with the other driver’s insurance company, their adjustor is already looking for ways to assign blame for the accident to you. Adjusters will be particularly skeptical about whiplash claims, because such claims have an undeserved reputation for being “frivolous” or “fake.” (You can thank the movies for this gross misconception.) Bottom line, the less you can say to the other driver’s insurance adjustor—and the less you say at the scene of the accident—the less opportunity the other side will have to pick apart your claim.
- You shouldn’t just assume you are okay: If your neck got thrashed around at all during a car accident, you might have suffered whiplash—even if you don’t experience symptoms right away. Luckily, a doctor can look for signs of whiplash even if you aren’t feeling them. If you think you might have suffered a neck or spinal injury, get a doctor’s opinion so that you can make a claim.A doctor can also rule out more serious spinal injuries. Start documenting your medical expenses with this first appointment and continue to do so going forward.
- Not all states are the same: Your ability to chase down the other driver’s insurance company or to file a lawsuit over whiplash varies depending on where you live. Both steps are more difficult to take in no-fault states. To learn if you have a case for your personal injury claim, consult a local car accident attorney. Your lawyer will be familiar with the rules and thresholds in your state and can help you decide which course of action offers the best path forward.
Whiplash can be a painful and disruptive injury, affecting everything from your work productivity to your ability to play with your kids. If you think you’ve suffered a serious whiplash injury, you might be entitled to medical expense reimbursement or other damages. By keeping the factors listed above in mind, you can be ready for the claims process and give yourself a better chance at getting the compensation you deserve.