If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it is important to get a physical examination by a doctor right away to ensure that you haven't sustained whiplash injuries. The most common type of injury to the neck and back that occurs in a car accident is a whiplash injury. Very often, our Orange County car accident lawyers observe that car accident victims don't seek medical attention or treatment after a crash because they don't “feel” like they've been injured.
Whiplash is caused by a sudden forward, backward or sideways movement of the head, which results in damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and connective tissues in the neck and upper back. Unfortunately, by the time victims begin to feel the symptoms of the injury, permanent damage can be done. We've seen a number of cases where whiplash victims settle their car accident claim without taking into consideration the fact that they will continue to suffer from the symptoms of their whiplash injuries.
How Whiplash Injuries Manifest
Whiplash injuries can manifest in many different ways. The location of the pain and the severity of the symptoms may depend on a number of factors such as the overall trauma, direction of impact, speed of the vehicles involved as well the age and physical condition of the victim. It is important to remember that whiplash symptoms commonly have a delayed onset, which means, it could take days, weeks or even months to manifest. Here are some of the common types of symptoms whiplash injury victims experience in the aftermath of a car accident:
Neck pain: This type of pain radiates across the shoulders to the head and down between the shoulder blades. This is because whiplash injuries tend to affect all of the tissues, ligaments and nerves in the neck area. Disc herniation during a car crash could also cause neck pain. Most victims experience neck stiffness and restricted range of motion in the first few weeks after the whiplash injury.
Headache: Sometimes, headaches are the result of brain injury. Headaches may also be related to muscle injury and injuries to the spinal joints.
Brain injury: A mild to moderate brain injury is fairly common following a whiplash injury. This happens when the brain is forced forward and backward. This could lead to bleeding or bruising of the brain. Symptoms of mild to moderate injuries may include memory issues, disturbed sleep, irritability, depression and confusion. Some may also suffer from dizziness.
Back pain: People who suffer from whiplash also commonly feel pain in the lower back. This is more common in read-end crashes.
Why Insurance Companies Reject Whiplash Claims
Insurance companies are prone to reject almost every claim. Unfortunately, these companies do not have injury victims' best interests in mind during the review process. It's all about limiting the costs they'll have to pay so they can make as much money as possible.
Whiplash injuries and the pain they cause are not easy to explain and prove. This results in denials for most claims in which the only injury is whiplash. Without an attorney, it's easy to accept a settlement amount that is far lower than it should be, causing victims to pay large costs out of their own pockets.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, be sure to get prompt medical attention. Gather as much evidence as you can from the scene including photographs and contact information for eyewitnesses. Document your injuries and the treatment you receive. Save all medical reports, doctor's comments and test results as well as receipts relating to medical expenses. Do not rush into a settlement with the insurance company without first speaking with an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer.