Whiplash Injuries Can Be Serious – When to Seek Monetary Damages
We all know or have met someone, a friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger, who has experienced whiplash from an automobile accident. Sometimes we see that person wearing the familiar collar used to stabilize the neck during recovery. Sometimes we hear or are told about the pain, discomfort or stiffness someone is experiencing in his neck, shoulders, low back, arms or hands. Depending on how well you know the person, we are sometimes sympathetic, sometimes skeptical, about the existence or extent of their injury. Is this person really suffering from whiplash or is he or she just gaming the system?
Whiplash is a frequent and serious consequence of an automobile accident, particularly, but not necessarily limited to, a rear-end collision. While not a technical term, whiplash is one widely recognized as including one or more symptoms that result whenever a person experiences an abrupt backward and/or forward jerking motion of the head. Medical experts typically describe this as hyperextension of the neck, or rearward bending beyond its normal range of motion. However, in many cases, damage to the soft tissue and nerves in the neck can result even if a person's neck is not full-out hyperextended but bent back only slightly.
People who experience whiplash typically report symptoms that may include: neck pain and stiffness; pain in the shoulder or shoulder blades; headaches; dizziness; ringing of the ears; memory loss or impairment; low back pain; pain or numbness in the arms or hands; sleep disturbance; and fatigue. Physicians and other medical personnel who treat persons involved in automobile collisions typically diagnose injuries ranging in severity from mild muscle strain and minor tearing of soft tissue to full-out fractures of the cervical vertebrae or risk damage accompanied by painful nerve impingement.
The existence and extent of a whiplash injury, if any, resulting from an auto accident depends on a multitude of technical factors about the circumstances of the specific collision and the pre-accident health of the person involved. Experts of all sorts---automakers, crash re-constructionists, physicists, physicians---have extensively studied how drivers, front-seat and rear seat passengers, can be injured or killed in an automobile collision. Given the basic physics of an automobile collision, most experts agree that whiplash in one form or another is an understandable consequence.
Doctors and other medical providers utilize a host of techniques to diagnose whether a person is truly experiencing whiplash or is exaggerating the existence of an injury. In most cases, physicians and chiropractors can affirmatively diagnose mild whiplash, including strains to the soft tissues in the neck, muscles, ligaments, and discs, by way of a thorough physical examination. Often, however, the full extent of soft tissue injuries cannot be seen on standard X-rays. In cases where a medical provider considers the symptoms sufficiently severe to merit further study before a final diagnosis, the provider may order specialized imaging tests, like CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to confirm the extent of the injuries.
Depending on the severity of the injury, medical providers may prescribe different courses of treatment. Mild strains are generally treated with over-the-counter pain relief medications such as Motrin, Advil, Aleve, or Naprosyn. If the provider believes that there was actual soft tissue injury or tear, he may prescribe a more intense pain medication and muscle relaxant, together with a course of exercises, physical therapy, and/or massage using heat and ice. In cases where the symptoms are even more severe and indicate muscle tear or mild disc displacement, the medical provider may also include steroid injections and ultrasound as additional therapy. Recently, medical providers have been discouraging immobilization in a cervical collar since they have found that it tends to magnify rather than alleviate muscle stiffness. In the most serious of whiplash injuries involving fractures or dislocation of one or more discs, surgical intervention may be required.
Put Our Law Firm's Over 37 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Accident Claim!
If you or a loved one are experiencing whiplash after being involved in a car wreck caused by negligence, the Atlanta car accident law firm of Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, can examine the facts and circumstances of what happened and advise you on your legal rights and options.
Our law firm has over 37 years of experience in representing car accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
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