Did you recently suffer a whiplash injury due to someone else’s wrongful behavior? If so, you might wonder how much compensation to expect if you decide to file a lawsuit. Seek legal assistance from Bakersfield whiplash injury lawyer in your case.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a non-medical term that describes a range of neck injuries. The injuries result from a sudden and forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck.
Whiplash primarily affects the soft tissues of the neck, including the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It commonly occurs in rear-end car collisions, where the rapid acceleration and deceleration cause the head to jerk abruptly.
While the cervical spine can sustain damage in more severe accident cases, it’s often the soft tissues that bear the brunt of the injury. Symptoms of whiplash can vary in severity and include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and fatigue. Some people also experience difficulty concentrating, memory problems, ringing in the ears, and sleep disturbances.
It’s worth noting that whiplash symptoms often take time to appear after an incident and sometimes don’t develop until days or even weeks later. Early intervention and treatment, which might include pain management, physical therapy, and exercises, are essential for recovery and preventing complications.
How Common Are Whiplash Injuries?
Accurate reporting of whiplash injuries is challenging for several reasons. First, the nature of whiplash injuries is inherently complex. These injuries don’t always manifest immediately after an accident.
Symptoms often take days or even weeks to appear, leading some patients to initially underestimate their conditions or dismiss them entirely. As a result, many cases do not get immediately reported or linked to a specific incident.
Moreover, diagnosing whiplash requires patients’ subjective complaints rather than objective findings like X-ray or MRI images, which rarely reveal soft tissue injuries. This reliance on subjectivity leads to considerable discrepancies in diagnosis and reporting.
Regardless, researchers have compiled and analyzed years’ worth of data to estimate just how common these injuries are.
Here are some eye-opening statistics about the incidence of whiplash in U.S. injury accidents:
- A recent analysis of national crash and hospital data reveals that accident reports and medical records tend to severely underreport whiplash injuries.
- According to this analysis, the actual number of crash-related whiplash injuries might exceed 1.2 million cases annually in the U.S. This projection is 50 to 100 percent higher than the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) estimate of about 800,000 per year.
- Among annual crash-related cervical spine injuries, there are approximately 841,000 whiplash injuries, 2,800 spinal disk injuries, 23,500 fractures, 2,800 spinal cord injuries, and 1,500 dislocations.
- The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates there is at least one cervical disk injury for every 17 cases of whiplash.
- Another study that revisited whiplash-exposed patients roughly 12 to 14 years post-injury found that a significant 55 percent reported symptoms associated with their previous whiplash injury.
- Fourteen percent of these patients reported daily symptoms of whiplash-associated disorders (WAD). The most common symptom, even over a decade later, was neck stiffness.
- Other less common long-term symptoms that affect whiplash patients include dizziness, balance issues, nausea, and vision disturbances.
- The study identified that the main health issues correlated with whiplash are stiffness of the neck and pain in the head and neck region.
- High-risk patients had a broader spectrum of symptoms, such as pronounced neck stiffness and pain, worse headaches, and concussion symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash injuries can manifest a variety of symptoms. While these symptoms sometimes appear immediately after the causative incident, they can also develop gradually over a period of hours or days.
Common whiplash injury symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Decreased range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulders, upper back, or arms
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
While many whiplash symptoms are temporary and diminish with proper care, some cause significant complications that persist long after the initial injury.
Here are some potential long-term consequences of whiplash injuries:
- Chronic pain
- Persistent headaches
- Vertigo (feeling like everything is spinning)
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleep disorders
- Visual disturbances
What to Do if You Suffer Whiplash in a Car Crash
If you sustain a whiplash injury in a car accident, it’s important to take the right steps to protect your legal and financial interests.
Here’s what you should do as you navigate the aftermath of your injury:
- Follow all of your doctor’s treatment recommendations.
- Attend follow-up appointments as necessary.
- Document your injuries with detailed progress notes.
- Keep a diary of your pain levels, symptoms, and personal limitations.
- Save medical records, including prescriptions, doctor’s notes, and referrals.
- Save receipts for any out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur.
- Gather statements or testimony from witnesses, if available.
- Keep track of lost income or days off work due to the whiplash injury.
- Resist settling any claims prematurely, especially before you understand the full extent of your injuries.
- Attend support groups or counseling if you’re struggling emotionally.
- Contact an experienced whiplash injury lawyer to review your legal options.
- Inform the insurance company about your injury, but do not admit fault, and be cautious about providing detailed statements.
- Avoid making recorded statements about the injury without legal counsel.
- Refrain from discussing the accident or your injury on social media.
Whiplash Injury Treatments
Whiplash injuries can cause numerous symptoms that range from mild discomfort to severe pain and dysfunction. To alleviate these symptoms and promote healing, physicians typically prescribe a combination of treatments tailored to the patient’s specific needs.
Here are some common whiplash treatment options:
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapists can guide patients through a series of exercises to restore movement, strengthen neck muscles, and improve posture, expediting the recovery process.
- Ice and Heat: Applying ice immediately after the injury can reduce inflammation. After 48 hours, alternating between cold and heat therapies can relieve pain and relax the muscles.
- Neck Braces or Collars: These provide support and limit neck movement to prevent additional injuries during recovery.
- Muscle Relaxants: In cases where muscle spasms occur, doctors might prescribe muscle relaxants to alleviate the discomfort.
- Injections: In severe cases, doctors might administer corticosteroid injections around the spinal cord to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Chiropractic Care: Some patients find relief from whiplash symptoms through chiropractic adjustments that realign the spinal cord.
- Massage: Gentle massage can soothe strained muscles and reduce pain.
- Acupuncture: This ancient practice involves inserting thin needles into specific points in the body, which some find beneficial for pain relief.
The cumulative costs of seeking comprehensive care for a whiplash injury are often overwhelming, especially when prolonged therapies, medications, or specialist visits are necessary. These expenses, along with lost income due to missed work, cause significant financial strain for many whiplash patients.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your medical bills after a whiplash injury, you should consult a knowledgeable injury lawyer right away. An experienced attorney can advocate on your behalf and demand the compensation you deserve to cover your medical costs, lost income, and more.
How Much Can I Get for My Whiplash Injury in an Insurance Claim or Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you’re considering filing an insurance claim or lawsuit for a whiplash injury, you might wonder about the potential compensation you could receive.
In most cases, the types of available compensation include reimbursement for past and future medical costs, lost income, and lost earning potential. Many claimants also seek compensation for subjective losses like pain, suffering, and lost quality of life.
The compensation you can get for each of these categories depends on several key elements that relate to your whiplash injury claim, including:
- Injury Severity: Not all whiplash injuries are the same. A more severe injury that leads to chronic pain or requires extensive medical treatment will generally have a higher claim value than a mild injury.
- Medical Expenses: The total cost of all whiplash-related medical treatments directly affects your claim’s value. This includes doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, medications, and any other related medical costs. The more costly your treatments, the more your whiplash case could be worth.
- Income Losses: If the injury caused you to miss work or reduced your earning capacity, you could claim compensation for the lost income.
- Pain and Suffering: Beyond reimbursement for tangible costs, you could receive compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life stemming from the injury.
- Recovery Duration: A longer recovery period, which implies prolonged suffering and potential complications, could also increase your case’s value.
- Future Implications: If your doctor expects your whiplash injury to have long-term effects or lead to chronic conditions, you could include these potential future costs and suffering in your claim.
- Insurance Policy Limits: The limits of the applicable insurance policies could also impose a ceiling on your potential compensation. Even if your losses exceed the policy limit, you might only be able to recover up to that amount unless you take further legal action.
- Proof of Liability: The clearer it is that another party was at fault for the injury, the stronger your claim. Solid evidence that proves the other party’s negligence could increase the value of your case.
- Legal Representation: Having a skilled attorney working for you can significantly affect your claim’s value. Experienced lawyers can negotiate more effectively and seek fair settlements or verdict awards that reflect your full range of losses.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Whiplash Injury Case?
An experienced attorney can significantly improve your chances of securing full and fair compensation for your whiplash injury case.
Here are just a few of the ways your personal injury attorney could help you:
- Investigating the accident that caused your whiplash injury
- Gathering and preserving critical evidence to support your claim
- Interviewing witnesses and collecting their testimony
- Working with medical professionals to obtain necessary medical reports
- Calculating the full extent of your damages, including future medical costs
- Identifying possible sources of compensation for your injury-related losses
- Handling all communications and negotiations with the insurance company
- Advising you on the potential value of your claim
- Enlisting the help of accident reconstructionists or medical experts, if necessary, to solidify your claim
- Challenging any attempts by the defense to downplay the severity of your injuries or shift the blame onto you
- Reviewing insurance policies to determine the coverage available to you
- Drafting and submitting necessary case documents in a timely manner
- Advising you on settlement offers to ensure they are fair and comprehensive
- Providing professional representation in court if your case goes to trial