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What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is an injury of the neck that most commonly occurs in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. When kinetic forces whip the head and neck roughly back and forth, the ligaments, tendons, and muscles can suffer injuries such as tears, strains or sprains. Whiplash can be painful and temporarily debilitating for a victim. It could also cause chronic problems. If you suffered whiplash in an auto accident, fall, sports incident, amusement park ride or another circumstance in Virginia, find out if you have grounds for an injury claim by consulting with a Richmond car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash can damage the tissues and nerves of the neck, pull muscles, tear ligaments, damaged spinal cord disks and injure the bones in the spine. Whiplash could be a major injury that disables the victim, or it could be a minor injury that goes away in a few days. Each case is unique. A physician may diagnose whiplash using a patient’s reported symptoms, a physical examination, a range of mobility tests and imaging tests. If you notice any possible signs of whiplash, see a doctor right away.

  • Neck pain or tenderness
  • Neck stiffness or loss of mobility
  • Upper back or shoulder pain
  • Shooting pains down the arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Headaches, especially at the base of the skull
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Fatigue

Whiplash could also cause behavioral and mood changes such as depression and irritability. The symptoms of whiplash may not appear right away. It could take hours or even days for a victim to notice the signs of a neck injury. Once they appear, whiplash symptoms may persist for weeks or even months in serious cases. While most victims fully recover from whiplash over time with treatments and therapies, others suffer chronic neck pain and long-lasting lack of mobility.

Whiplash Treatments

The goals for whiplash injury treatment threefold: relieve pain, restore range of motion in the neck and enable you to return to normal activities. The specific treatment plan will depend on the nature of the injury, as well as your pain tolerance and medical history. For pain management, while whiplash is healing, doctors may recommend hot or cold compresses on the neck, over-the-counter or prescription pain medications, muscle relaxants, and numbing injections.

Most physicians will also prescribe rehabilitative therapies to help your neck return to its normal mobility. You may need physical therapy to strengthen your neck muscles, restore normal movement and prevent further injury. Daily exercises at home can also help you restore full range of motion. In some cases, a physician may tell you to use a neck collar in the first few days after a whiplash injury. Extended collar use, however, could decrease muscle strength and impede recovery.

Can You Recover Financially for Whiplash?

Whiplash could lead to expensive and ongoing medical costs, time home from work during recovery, and the temporary inability to perform work due to a disability, on top of physical pain and suffering. If someone negligently caused your whiplash injury in Virginia, you may be eligible to recover a financial award for all these damages and more. The at-fault party could owe you compensation for your economic and noneconomic losses related to the whiplash injury. Identifying the defendant is step number one in bringing a claim.

  • An at-fault vehicle driver
  • A property owner for a slip-and-fall accident
  • A sports coach or school
  • An employer for a workplace accident
  • A physician or surgeon
  • A manufacturer of a defective product

Determining the defendant(s) and proving a whiplash injury could be difficult. Since it is a soft-tissue injury, it may not appear clearly on x-rays. Going to the doctor immediately after an incident in which you suffered a neck injury could help you collect proof. A physician can sign off on an official diagnosis and give you copies of imaging scans and treatment plans to show an insurance company. If you wish to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party as well, you will need proof of the party’s fault for causing your injury. You may need to hire a lawyer to help you bring a strong claim for whiplash against one or more parties in Virginia.