Whiplash/Neck Injuries and Car Accidents – Collecting Damages
Our Denver car accident attorneys have extensive experience handling injury cases. It doesn’t matter if you have a minor scrape or a major collision, we are here for you.
Many car accidents that occur in Denver and across Colorado seem minor at the time of the accident. Perhaps you were waiting at a red light when you were rear-ended by another vehicle that wasn’t able to stop in time. While this scenario may sound minor on the surface, a whiplash injury caused by a collision of this nature can have long-term impacts.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe a sudden jerking motion of the head. It’s most often associated with car accidents but can occur in just about any situation where the head and neck undergo a sudden violent motion.
In addition to neck tissue, whiplash can cause damage to joints, discs, muscles and nerve roots as well. It’s often the source of long-term pain and can even develop into a disorder known as degenerative disc disease.
One more important point to understand—many mistakenly view whiplash as an injury when, in fact, it’s actually the cause of an injury.
The injuries themselves have several names, including neck strain and neck sprain.
Signs of a whiplash injury
Whiplash can be a serious injury, and its most common symptoms may not show up for several days.
Headaches are one of the most common signs of a whiplash injury. Usually, headaches after an accident stem from damage to the spine, ligaments or muscles, but in some cases, they can be a sign of a serious brain injury.
Other common signs of a whiplash injury include the following:
- Neck stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder blades
- Back pain and tenderness
- Muscle Spasms
- Pain or numbness in the arms and hands
- Ringing ears
- Blurred vision
- Memory loss
- Poor concentration
- Nervousness or irritability
- Difficulty sleeping
Common serious whiplash injuries
While most injuries caused by whiplash heal quickly, other injuries are more serious, such as fractured or dislocated vertebrae (which can cause temporary paralysis and nerve damage) or degenerative disc disease.
Other common whiplash injuries that can be severe in nature include the following.
Neck and upper back injuries
Neck and upper back injuries are common after a car accident, often leading to discomfort and limited neck mobility. These symptoms can arise from muscle and ligament injuries, a herniated disc or compressed nerves. Pain from injuries to these areas often extends from the neck to the shoulders, between the shoulder blades and across the shoulder area.
Lower back injuries
The upper back is not the only part of the back that may be injured. Although the lower back is not whipped back and forth as violently as the upper back, the discs in the lower back can also become compressed, particularly in side-impact collisions.
Traumatic brain injuries
If the car accident is more severe in nature, the violent whipping motion can lead to mild or even traumatic brain injury. The brain simply hitting the inside of your skull during a collision can lead to an injury of this nature.
A few signs and symptoms of a brain injury are mental confusion, forgetfulness, concentration problems, trouble sleeping and mood changes. Sometimes, a person who has a brain injury may notice vision disturbances and an altered sense of taste and smell.
Likelihood of whiplash injury
Certain people are more likely than others to develop this type of neck injury including:
- Children and teenagers
- People who have had a neck injury in the past
- Those who are hit while their car is at a stop
- Those whose car is hit from the rear
How long do whiplash symptoms usually last?
For many people, the pain from a whiplash injury lasts anywhere from several days to 3 months. However, some people still experience neck pain for a year or more after a car accident. The signs and symptoms of this neck injury can also take up to a few months to present themselves.
By the time a victim realizes the full extent of their injuries, they may have already settled their personal injury claim with the insurance company without the help of an attorney, losing out on a significant amount of compensation for their pain and suffering and medical expenses.
How is whiplash treated?
Treatment for whiplash varies depending on the severity but may include pain medications, muscle relaxants, physical therapy and surgery. In the past, patients were given a cervical collar that prevented them from moving their necks. Recently though, doctors have started to recommend that patients begin to move their neck muscles as soon as possible to promote faster healing.
Filing a lawsuit and collecting damages
If you’ve sustained an injury caused by whiplash from someone else’s negligence, you should seek legal advice immediately.
The statute of limitations (how long you have to file a case) for car accident cases in Colorado is 3 years.
As we said earlier, many injuries caused by whiplash are relatively minor and heal quickly. But there are some instances where the full impacts of the injury will not appear for months or even years.
This is why documentation matters so much.
If you’re in a car accident and sustain an injury caused by whiplash, you should see a doctor immediately and keep careful records. These records will be instrumental in demonstrating your costs and lost time from work, among other things.
What if I had neck pain before my car accident? Will my pre-existing condition disqualify me from obtaining compensation?
In a general sense, a person who is negligent is only liable for the damages they caused. If you can prove the accident aggravated the old injury and caused pain to return or worsen, you can seek compensation. Of course, records from any prior injuries will be instrumental in proving this should you decide to pursue a claim.
The best way to determine if you have grounds for a claim is to contact a car accident attorney to discuss your case.
Importance of consulting a car accident attorney
After a car crash, whiplash sufferers face a painful recovery while worrying about expensive medical bills and lost wages. The first step after being in an automobile accident is to seek medical attention, and the second step is to contact an experienced accident attorney in Denver.
An attorney can help hold the responsible party accountable for their actions by filing a lawsuit so you can receive the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact The Babcock Law Firm. We have the determination and the know-how to help you get the compensation you deserve. We represent accident victims across the state of Colorado, so contact us today for a free consultation of your case.
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**NOTE – this article and all content at Injurylawcolorado.com is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.