When someone suffers a neck injury in a car accident, a whiplash settlement is often the result.
What Is Whiplash
Because it involves stretching and damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the neck, and not the bones, whiplash is considered a “soft tissue injury.”
The injury is caused by an abrupt jerking of the head forcing it beyond the limit of its normal motion. The name comes from the fact that the motion of your head resembles the motion of the tip of a whip being cracked.
Whiplash injuries are the most common injuries in car accidents.
The actual medical diagnosis is either hyperextension/hyperflexion injury (extension is the movement of your head backward and flexion is the movement of your head forward), hyperflexion/hyperextension injury, cervical sprain or cervical strain.
Here’s a question for you. When your vehicle is hit from the behind, does you head initially go forward or backward?
It seems logical that it would be knocked forward since that is the direction of the force.
However, it actually goes backward first. Your torso, being more attached to your vehicle, goes forward with the vehicle. However, your head, resting on top of a narrow column of bones (your neck or “cervical spine”), is “left behind” and actually snaps backward. This is the hyperextension that I told you about.
Then your head rebounds and goes forward. This is the hyperflexion. It all happens very quickly.
If you have a head-on collision, the opposite occurs. Your head initially goes forward and then backward.
Both rear-end collisions and head-on collisions often cause whiplash neck injuries.
Symptoms of Whiplash
These are the most common symptoms of whiplash:
- 1. pain in your neck.
3. pain in your shoulder, arm or hand.
4. reduced range of motion in your neck, or stiff neck.
5. numbness, weakness and slower reflexes in your arms and hands.
6. muscle spasms in your neck.
Diagnosis And Treatment of Whiplash
Because they involve soft tissues and not bones, most whiplash injuries do not show up on x-rays.
Your doctor may order more sophisticated imaging tests such a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
More often, though, s/he will make a whiplash diagnosis based on your history and symptoms, and by ruling out other possible injuries.
After diagnosing a whiplash injury, your doctor will prescribe treatment that could include such things as pain medication, muscle relaxers, rest, ice, heat, immobilization through by cervical collar (although this is used less often these days), chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. Most often, a combination of treatments is prescribed.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), most neck and head pain symptoms resulting from a whiplash injury clear up within a few days or weeks. For many others, the recovery can take up to 3 months.
However, about 1 of every 4 people with whiplash report symptoms for up to a year, and about 1 in 10 patients report permanent symptoms as a result of their whiplash injuries.
That’s right, whiplash can cause long-term, even permanent, symptoms.
How To Maximize Your Whiplash Settlement After A Car Accident
Do not settle your whiplash claim until you completely recover from your injuries. You want to be absolutely sure you don’t have a more serious injury such as a pinched nerve (cervical radiculopathy) or a herniated disc.
When you reach full recovery, follow the advice at this website for making car accident injury claims.
If you follow that advice, and the advice I offer concerning car accident settlements, you should do fine.
4 Insider Tips For Maximizing Your Whiplash Settlement
Use these whiplash settlement tips to your advantage:
1. If you need even more help than is available at this website, check out my e-book, The Car Accident Claims Kit. Its 178 pages are crammed with information and advice and include all the forms and checklists that you will need to settle your claim. It costs less than dinner out and comes with a 60 day money-back guarantee.
2. Be prepared for the insurance representative to scoff at your whiplash injury. Insurance adjusters often sneer that you have “only a soft tissue injury,” implying that it is minor and unimportant and that you are exaggerating or, perhaps, making the whole thing up.
Resist your instinct to be angry at any insurance dolt that acts like this. But stand up for yourself. Stick with the facts, including what your doctor has written in her report. Emphasize how long you suffered from your whiplash symptoms and the various ways they impacted your life.
3. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” If the whiplash settlement offer is unfairly low, say “no.“ Besides, the first settlement offer made to you is rarely the highest offer that the insurance company will make. So, “play the game.” Reject their unfair offer and then reduce the amount that you previously told them you would accept. Normally, there will be 2 or 3 exchanges of offers and counter-offers before you get their highest offer. Once you have that, you can decide whether to accept it or take your claim to court.
4. Every case is different and the your whiplash injury settlement will depend on the facts of your case; however, most whiplash settlements are between $5,000 and $15,000.