Whiplash, or cervical spine injury,  is arguably the most common car accident injury with an estimated 841,000 whiplash injury victims treated in hospitals annually. Whiplash is painful and debilitating, causing limited range of motion, headaches, balance problems, and changes in mood and concentration. Sadly, whiplash is also the most commonly disputed car accident injury by insurance companies. This is due to the misconception that injury victims should notice this serious injury immediately after the crash when in reality, symptoms may take several days to appear and worsen.

What Is Whiplash?

The crash force in a collision is tremendous. An average 125-pound person becomes an over 6,000-pound force in a collision at 55 miles per hour in what’s known as “the deadly equation.” During a crash, the victim’s body is thrust forward and then snapped back against the seat cushion—like the motion of a whip. This causes a sudden, violent jarring and over-extension of the neck due to the weight of the head as it snaps forward and back. This over-extension tears the ligaments and soft tissue supporting the cervical spine—a whiplash injury. Some whiplash injuries are mild and the victims recover after a few weeks of treatment with a neck brace and anti-inflammatory medications, but some whiplash injuries may develop complications or take much longer to resolve. A study in 2016 revealed that many whiplash victims still suffered reduced quality of life even five years after an accident.

Why Do Whiplash Injuries Have Delayed Discovery?

During the adrenaline rush after a highway accident, car accident victims often overlook the earliest signs of a whiplash injury, particularly if they have more immediately obvious injuries or during the endorphin rush commonly associated with post-accident relief when accident victims realize they’ve survived relatively unscathed.

When whiplash injuries tear the ligaments supporting the cervical spine and upper back area, the resulting inflammation and stiffness may take days or even weeks to develop into debilitating pain. Because whiplash victims commonly seek medical attention for whiplash several days or more after an accident, insurance companies routinely dispute the claim and argue that the injury couldn’t have occurred in the accident but occurred elsewhere—or worse—they accuse the injury victim of inventing the injury to claim compensation. 

Whiplash sometimes occurs from minor fender-benders, particularly rear-end and t-bone accidents, resulting in insurance adjusters commonly claiming that the injury couldn’t be serious with such minor damage to a vehicle.

Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash After a Car Accident

Whiplash causes pain and stiffness, often limiting the victim’s range of motion and substantially impacting their ability to work and function. Symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Pain and stiffness in the upper back
  • Headaches
  • Tingling in the shoulders, arms, hands, and wrists
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood changes
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

Because whiplash injuries may take days to develop symptoms, it’s important to seek a full medical evaluation after an accident in addition to treatment for obvious injuries. This documents the problem for a later compensation claim and encourages faster healing by prompt medical attention; however, with a skilled attorney on your side, you can provide a compelling case for compensation even if you sought medical attention weeks after the accident.

How Can a Whiplash Attorney Help My Case?

Whiplash often profoundly impacts the victim’s life, limiting their range of motion, and impacting their ability to function in their daily lives at work and home. A skilled whiplash attorney investigates the accident, documents proof of liability, and consults with the best medical experts to prove the reality of whiplash and its significant effects. Call the Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Cuneo & Leonetti today to begin prompt action on a whiplash claim with the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.