Whiplash is the most common term used for a category of injuries that result from a sudden back-and-forth motion of the neck—something that’s quite common in car accidents.
However, whiplash has gotten something of a bad rap in popular culture, thanks to depictions in movies and television shows of money-seeking plaintiffs exaggerating their injuries with a neck brace to try to win pity points from juries. The truth is that whiplash is a common and potentially serious injury that can have some harsh, long-term consequences for a victim.
If you decide you want to pursue a personal injury claim after suffering whiplash, you stand a much better chance at succeeding in your case if you received medical treatment immediately after the accident occurred. That’s not always simple, however, as the symptoms of whiplash sometimes do not show up for days after an accident. For this reason, you should seek medical treatment immediately after any type of crash, even if you believe any injuries or discomfort you suffered are relatively minor.
Physicians will be familiar with the signs of whiplash that would otherwise go unnoticed by a person without the same training. Having a physician be the individual to disclose your medical diagnosis will help avoid suspicion being cast on you should you eventually choose to seek compensation.
While it is a good idea to get a record of your injury or discomfort in a police report created at the scene of a motor vehicle accident, it’s much more powerful to have a statement from your doctor supporting the fact that you’ve experienced whiplash.
What happens if you don’t get treatment?
The importance of seeking immediate medical treatment for your whiplash is not just that it could help with a potential injury claim. It can also prevent you from experiencing some significant long-term health problems that could dramatically hamper your quality of life.
Within the first several days after the accident, you may experience symptoms that include the following:
- Neck pain that extends into the back or upper shoulders, likely accompanied by stiffness, a lack of mobility and swelling
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Tinnitus, a condition in which you hear nonexistent noises, such as ringing, hissing, humming or static
- Vertigo, a condition in which you constantly feel as if you are falling or spinning
The longer the injury goes untreated, the more likely it is the pain you experience will become chronic. Fortunately, most whiplash patients see improvements in their conditions within the first few weeks or months, but in severe cases, that discomfort can stick around for years. Many sufferers of serious whiplash injuries are unable to return to their usual work or activity for months or even years—if at all.
To that end, if you have been involved in a car accident and believe you’ve suffered whiplash or another significant injury, you should seek medical care right away. You should also contact an experienced New York personal injury lawyer with Robinson & Yablon to learn more about your legal options.