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Whiplash 101: Learn More About This Common Injury

Chad West Oct. 19, 2021

In the world of personal injury causing car collisions, whiplash is among the most common types of injuries clients may experience. It is most common after a rear-end collision, but whiplash can be caused by your head jerking in a forward or backward motion causing a strain or damage to your neck. Certain kinds of traumatic experiences can cause whiplash, including sports trauma, physical abuse or a hard fall. By far the most common whiplash cause is getting rear-ended.

What is whiplash?

The term “whiplash” describes sudden acceleration or deceleration movements and their impact on the body. The term is often used synonymously to describe the resultant injuries typically characterized by neck pain and stiffness usually because of a soft-tissue injury which can be expected to heal within a few weeks or months with appropriate medical treatment. Sometimes, whiplash can cause more lasting pain and injury and even neurological issues. Many whiplash-related injuries may only be seen with an MRI or sometimes a CT scan or X-ray. The collection of ongoing symptoms one may experience after a whiplash injury is called Whiplash Associated Disorder. Whiplash Associated Disorder may be limited to physical symptoms such as:

  • Neck pain

  • Stiffness

  • Shoulder and back pain

Neurological impairment may also result. Here are some of the other symptoms of WAD, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

  • Abnormal burning or prickling sensations known as paresthesia

  • Memory loss

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Sleep disruption

When to seek medical treatment.

As with all injury-causing collisions or events, we recommend our clients seek medical attention as soon as possible. We don’t want you to be in pain, so we advocate for our clients to receive treatment as soon as they can after an injury.

Whiplash is usually a soft-tissue injury, meaning it causes damages to the muscles, ligaments, nerves or tendons. It can also cause damage to the discs and bones in your neck or back. Pain is most commonly present immediately after the event but may gradually lessen or progress. Stiffness, headaches, dizziness, insomnia and even depression can all be related to a whiplash injury.

How long does it take to heal?

Most of the time, whiplash will subside within a few weeks to a couple months. Some people feel better within a few days. As with most things related to our health, a patient’s age, overall health and medical history will all be factors in how long it takes a person to heal and what that process looks like. Even if it has been a few weeks since your injury, if you are now in pain, don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. 

It is not uncommon for whiplash injuries to worsen after initially starting to improve. If you have other complicating medical issues such as an old back or neck injury, these can be aggravated by whiplash. In such instances, medical treatment earlier is highly recommended so that soft-tissue damage from the most recent event can be accurately assessed thus helping you avoid this common objection from the insurance companies.

When to seek legal help.

Whiplash is one of the most common reasons car wreck victims may seek the help of a qualified legal team. In Texas, you have two years to file a claim from the date of your initial injury. If you need to make a personal injury claim for a financial recovery, waiting too long after an injury-causing event can raise questions about the legitimacy of your claims during the progression of your case. In whiplash cases, the most important factor will be proving that the negligence of the other party caused your injury. Our legal team will gather evidence including police reports, witness statements if available, medical records, evidence of time missed work time, photos and other information that shows how the other party was negligent and caused your injuries.

If you were rear-ended, insurance adjusters may attempt to place blame on you to avoid financial responsibility. The insurance company may try to undermine your claims by blaming past injuries or stating that you waited too long to seek treatment and therefore could not have been as badly injured as you claim. Our qualified legal team knows the tactics insurance companies use, and we have the skill to help overcome the most common and uncommon objections to get you the financial settlement you deserve.

Call us to discuss your case.

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