If you are suffering severe neck pains after a Tampa car crash caused by another driver, you are legally entitled to seek financial compensation. The blowing force of a motor vehicle collision can cause a serious neck injury called Whiplash, and you can get coverage for physical and other losses, like pain and suffering, with the help of a Tampa personal injury lawyer.
In this article, we’ll talk about Whiplash, its causes and symptoms, treatment, and the legal claims process for seeking compensation.
Whiplash: One of the Most Common Auto Accident Injuries in Tampa
The Sunshine State continues to rank as one of the highest states for auto accidents each year, resulting in at least 300,000 injuries.
Whiplash is a neck injury that is caused when your head rapidly “whips” back and forth, causing tears in the neck. This is a complex injury that can affect the neck muscles, discs, nerves, tendons, and even surrounding areas such as the shoulders and back.
The Cleveland Clinic describes Whiplash (also known as neck strain) as a neck injury that is caused by a jerking motion that strains your neck and spine. The movement that causes Whiplash can be compared to the cracking of a whip – a forceful back-and-forth movement. It can cause damage to bones, ligaments, muscles, and nerves. Most cases of Whiplash are caused by motor vehicle collisions. Depending on the crash impact, the injury victim could have a short court of treatable Whiplash or chronic pain that lasts for months or longer.
Rear-end automobile collisions most frequently cause whiplash injuries. And while they are not considered “catastrophic injuries,” they can still be debilitating and negatively affect a person’s day-to-day life. For many Whiplash victims, recovery is a long and arduous process that requires specialized treatment, rehabilitation, and sometimes medication. Even so, some patients end up experiencing persistent pain after exhausting all treatment options.
What Are the Most Common Ways People Get Whiplash?
The leading cause of Whiplash injuries is from auto collisions where the vehicles rapidly accelerate or suddenly brake. They often occur in rear-end accidents but can also occur with contact sports.
Common Symptoms of Whiplash From a Tampa Auto Vehicle Accident
The side effects of Whiplash can vary greatly and usually occur with other injuries, mostly that of the head, back, and shoulders.
The severity of your whiplash injury will be directly correlated with the severity of the crash impact, so if you get into a high-speed crash, you’ll have a worse case of Whiplash than if you get into a mild fender bender. But even accidents at slow speed can cause Whiplash. Whether or not you were wearing a seatbelt will also affect the degree of severity of your whiplash injury.
If you experience a few or all of these symptoms, there’s a good chance you have Whiplash, but you’ll need to go to a doctor to get official testing and a proper diagnosis.
- Headaches – headaches are probably the most common symptom of Whiplash, with the pain often originating at the base of the skull. You should never ignore headaches that are caused by Whiplash because these are often associated with a very dangerous type of traumatic brain injury called Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI), wherein the brain gets aggressively shaken inside the skull.
- Cognitive issues – brain fog and cognitive fatigue frequently occur with Whiplash but are often mistaken for regular stress of life and work. If you feel like you have cognitive functioning problems that feel out of the ordinary, be sure to inform your doctor of this.
- Dizziness – neck pain can cause dizzy spells, commonly triggered when you move or get up too fast. This can also be a sign of a traumatic brain injury and co-occur with nausea. If you experience dizziness with neck pain after a car accident, you need to get medical attention.
- Lower back pain- Whiplash manifests as neck pain, but it is, in fact, a spinal cord injury. Since the spinal cord stretches from the base of the neck to the lower back, it’s possible to experience lower back pain as a side effect of Whiplash. If you have a previous history of lower back pain, you’re more susceptible to experiencing it after a car accident from Whiplash.
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, neck, shoulder, hands, or fingers. This symptom with Whiplash can suggest a compressed or inflamed spinal nerve root.
- Shoulder Pain – some may experience frequent pain between their shoulder blades or around the shoulders. In very severe cases of Whiplash, one may require surgical intervention or physical therapy.
- Stiff neck – have you ever woken up feeling like you slept the wrong way and can’t move your neck all the way or that there’s a “kink” in your neck? This stuff feeling is similar to what Whiplash feels like, making it difficult and painful to rotate the neck.
- Muscle Spasms – Whiplash can cause short, sharp cramps in the neck, known as spasms. They occur due to the stretched or torn muscles being unable to relax.
- Sleep disturbances – insomnia and difficulty sleeping occur when you have neck pain and discomfort. In addition to the pain of the injury, the post-traumatic stress of the crash can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. This becomes a vicious cycle wherein sleep deprivation hinders the healing process. Tell your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping at night due to your neck discomfort.
- Depression – depression is a common side effect of traumatic events like car accidents. More specifically known as “PTSD” or post-traumatic stress disorder, this mental health condition affects up to 40% of car accident victims. One study reported that Whiplash injury victims experienced depression within six weeks of finding out about their injury, with an additional 20% experiencing depression in the year following the accident.
When Should I See a Doctor for Whiplash Injuries?
You should see a doctor immediately after a car accident; even if you are unsure of how bad your injuries are, the sooner you go, the better chance you have at a faster and full medical recovery. If you don’t notice symptoms until later, visit your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms.
How to Diagnose Whiplash
Your doctor may first want to check for broken bones, fractures, or dislocations in the neck. If you do have any of the above injuries, which are urgent and serious, you will likely receive emergency medical care at the accident scene. Generally, when you have severe to life-threatening injuries, medical care is not optional, and EMTs will treat you whether you want them to or not.
If you didn’t realize Right after the accident that you dislocated or broke a vertebra in your neck or spine, the symptoms will eventually show up, and you’ll need to see a doctor.
Your doctor will first ask you about your medical history and conduct a series of physical exams.
One way to test for Whiplash is with X-rays, which use electromagnetic imaging beams. However, while X-rays can detect internal issues like broken bones and organ damage, they cannot detect other injuries such as soft tissue damage.
MRIs (also known as magnetic resonance imaging) is a type of large magnet that takes detailed images of internal structures like organs and soft tissues. Other tests that a doctor may use to diagnose Whiplash include CT scans, which can show detailed images of bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Whiplash?
Your doctor will develop a tailored treatment plan for you, taking some critical considerations into factor. For starters, they will assess your overall health and medical history. Other considerations your doctor will use to determine your specific treatment plan include:
- How bad your injury is
- Your pain tolerance and if you have had similar injuries in the past
- Expectations or indications for the course of your injury
- Specific preferences you have for treatment or medication management
Once all of these precursors are appropriately assessed, your doctor may prescribe the following treatments:
- Ice (usually applied within the first 24 hours of injury)
- Pain medication
- Muscle relaxation techniques
- Physical therapy
- Nerve stimulation therapy
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Gentle stretch and movement
Tampa Insurance Providers Often Challenge Whiplash Claims
The reason why it’s crucial to see a qualified physician immediately after a crash is that your claim has a better chance of ending successfully with early medical documentation. By having a confirmed diagnosis from a whiplash or other medical specialist, you have solid evidence to support your claim.
But, even with that evidence, the opposing attorney or insurance company might challenge your claims if your case ends up going to trial.
Whiplash has many symptoms that are not immediately obvious and may only be felt by the injured person but invisible to others. Therefore, it’s a wifey misunderstood injury and often scrutinized closely, more so than other injuries, in Tampa car accident claims. Insurance companies most often suspect fraud with whiplash cases as opposed to other types of injuries. While you can see a Broken bone or witness the changes in a person who experiences a TBI, you can’t really see the side effects of Whiplash.
Even if tests for Whiplash are accepted in the medical setting, insurance companies don’t always accept them. For example, let’s say that in your initial doctor visit, you say that your neck doesn’t hurt that much, but later you say it hurts much more; the insurance company might call this an inconsistency in your story. Even if it’s true that your whiplash injury was not initially very bothersome, but days later developed into a debilitating pain and drastically reduced your neck’s range of motion, the insurance company may interrogate you aggressively to try and make it seem like your story lacks integrity.
How to Seek Compensation for a Tampa Whiplash Injury
Insurance companies come down hard on whiplash settlement offers because, unfortunately, there have been people who have tried to cheat the system and fake injuries or exaggerate the degree of their injuries. But what about the injury victims who really suffer severe pain and symptoms from whiplash injuries?
Insurance providers’ bias towards whiplash injuries creates a demanding burden of proof for the claimant to prove their injury is real and the evidence satisfies the insurance company’s satisfaction. With other injuries, there may be a certain amount of inherent trust granted to the claimant, such as if a person had an amputated limb or some other obvious catastrophic injury.
This is why you need a skilled and experienced Tampa Car Accident Injury Lawyer. They can help you avoid roadblocks in your claims probes and make sure you’re prepared for all of the insurance company’s tactics.
Insurance companies often hear Whiplash and automatically assume it’s a fraudulent claim or have a bias towards the plaintiff. Just because whiplash claims have a stigma with insurance companies, it doesn’t mean you can’t win a fair payout for your whiplash inútiles. It’s a real and serious injury, and a good lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
There’s is No Fixed Value for Whiplash Injury Settlement Awards
Insurance companies see so many whiplash claims that some have created a “standard scale” within their internal company policy but make no mistake, there is no “industry-wide” average or standard value for a whiplash injury settlement.
They might offer you a very low settlement and try to convince you that’s the average or the limit for neck injuries, but that isn’t true. You could be entitled to get a much higher settlement than they initially offered if your injury is interfering with your life and you’ve endured a great degree of pain and suffering.
How Much Is a Fair Settlement After Getting a Whiplash Injury Caused by Another Driver in Tampa?
That will depend on how severe your injuries are. You also need to consider how your life has been affected and if you are able to return to work or live your life normally like you did before the accident.
While there’s no average for a whiplash settlement, you can refer to precedent (previous whiplash claims) to compare values and see if you’re getting a fair offer. That said, e tones case is unique and different and requires an experienced lawyer to assess your case to help identify all damages and what you’re eligible to recuperate.
Contact a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Our Tampa Personal Injury Lawyers are ready to fight for you to win you the compensation you deserve. If you have suffered a whiplash injury and are having trouble dealing with insurance companies, you need strong legal representation that they will take seriously.
Call us today for a free initial consultation.