Here’s a scenario we see all too often in our line of work: a person walks away from a car crash thanking their lucky stars they weren’t badly injured. Maybe they feel a little tense or a little sore, but they dismiss it all and head home to bed. The next morning when they wake up, or gradually over the next few days, they’re shocked to find they’ve developed shooting pains and stiffness.
Welcome to the wonderful world of whiplash.
Car accident victims sometimes hesitate to pursue whiplash claims, suffering in silence and never knowing how much compensation they’re really entitled to.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you’ve been hurt in a crash of any kind, you need to consult an auto accident lawyer.
Houston streets are the site of numerous accidents every day, many of which involve whiplash. In this post, we’ll explain how whiplash car accident claims work and how you can file a claim to receive the whiplash injury compensation you deserve. Let’s go!
What is Whiplash?
“Whiplash” is the colloquial term for a cervical muscle strain, a neck strain, or a variety of other injuries you may endure in a car accident. These injuries are so common, a car accident attorney might as well be called a “whiplash injury attorney!”
Still, even though it’s common, whiplash is not a minor injury. When whiplash victims forgo treatment, downplay pain levels, and try to grin and bear it, injuries can worsen.
If you think you have whiplash and you avoid doctors, hoping the issue will resolve itself in time, your discomfort can snowball and bring your daily life to a screeching halt. You may be unable to do household chores, lift your children, sleep comfortably, or even look down at a book. You could be dealing with chronic pain or limited mobility for the rest of your life.
Whiplash occurs when a driver or passenger’s head is whipped quickly back and forth by the force of impact in a car accident. These movements are called hyperextension (the head is pushed too far back, with the chin up) and hyperflexion (the head is pushed too far forward, with the chin down). When this happens, vertebrae can be displaced and damaged.
Whiplash also results in the straining or spraining of the neck, back, and shoulders. What’s the difference between a strain and a sprain? Good question!
A strain is the overstretching or tearing of one or more muscles or tendons. Tendons are thick cords of tissue that connect your bones to your muscles.
A sprain is the overstretching or tearing of ligaments. Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect to bones together in a joint. The ligaments of the neck are densely packed with pain receptors, which fire when under stress. Due to this, sprains take much longer to heal.
Severe whiplash complications can lead to:
- Inflammation of other joints, muscles, and ligaments throughout the body
- Soft tissue damage like ruptured discs and torn ligaments
- Fractured vertebrae
- Permanent nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Symptoms & Signs of Whiplash After A Car Accident
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain
- Limited mobility of neck or arms
- Tingling or numb hands
- Sore shoulders and arms
- Back pain
- Blurry vision
Whiplash is especially common in rear-end accidents, traffic jam accidents, and other fender benders. Symptoms of whiplash usually take hours or days to appear. This is due to the rush of adrenaline that courses through the body when it is shocked by a car accident. Adrenaline is a hormone that can mask your pain for quite a while, so you won’t feel the full extent of your injuries until later. Serious problems can go undetected until it is too late.
If you are involved in an accident, even a minor one, you should immediately seek medical attention.
Whiplash Treatment Options
A doctor may recommend you treat your whiplash with a combination of rest, medication, and a supportive device like a neck brace to prohibit re-injury. You may also be referred to a chiropractor or a physical therapist for additional treatment.
Fortunately, whiplash seldom requires surgery. In some rare cases with ruptured or herniated discs, spinal fusion surgery or laminectomy may be the best course of action. If you’re concerned about paying for medical treatment, a dedicated Houston whiplash lawyer can get you on the road to recovery at no upfront cost. Reach out ASAP.
How to Make a Whiplash Injury Claim
After an accident, follow these steps:
- Get out of your car and move safely out of the way of traffic.
- Call the police. They will respond to the scene and write a crash report, which can be important evidence for your case.
- Collect the other driver’s information, including their license, insurance provider, plates, etc.
- Get examined by a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you do not think you are hurt. Soft tissue injuries can be difficult to detect at first but they can impact every aspect of your daily life, even more than a broken bone might. Prompt medical care will ensure the best chances for a complete recovery.
- Call your car insurance company to report the accident and begin filing your claim. Provide them with the information you collected at the scene of the accident. Inform the other driver’s insurance company as well, but do not provide them with a recorded statement until you…
- Get a Houston car accident lawyer. If a reckless driver hit you, why should you pay for the damage they caused? A whiplash lawyer can help you hold them accountable for your injuries. A dedicated Houston insurance lawyer can make all the difference between a satisfactory car accident insurance settlement and a rejected claim.
A case number and a claims rep will be assigned to you, but going forward, your lawyer can communicate with them on your behalf.
Whiplash Car Accident Claim Damages
Whiplash injury compensation amounts will vary depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury and the subsequent medical treatment and physical therapy it requires. How much you can claim for whiplash will depend on your specific medical treatment plan and how the injury affects your life.
Generally, a fair car accident insurance claim settlement will take the following expenses into consideration:
- Doctor visits, diagnostic imaging, and surgeries
- Prescription medication
- Physical therapy sessions
- Lost wages from missing work
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Getting a settlement after a car accident shouldn’t be an ordeal, but stubborn insurance companies will try to stand in your way to protect their profits. A Houston car insurance attorney can help you prove your injuries and obtain compensation for the expenses that come along with them.
Evidence of Whiplash After A Car Accident
Wondering how to prove you have whiplash? Whiplash claims deserve to be taken as seriously as any other car accident injury claim, and your whiplash injury claim amount should reflect your actual expenses, but how do you calculate the true value of your claim and back it up with proof? Collect the following evidence to strengthen your case:
- The police report
- All bills and receipts
- Old medical records showing you were in good health before the accident
- Current medical records, including test results, prescriptions, x-rays, MRIs, and other images
When it comes to lost wages, you can prove this part of your claim by providing old pay stubs and timesheets or other documentation from your employer regarding which days you have missed.
Your attorney can collect statements from your doctor and chiropractor about your prognosis and recommended courses of treatment. These can be used to predict the cost of future medical expenses as well.
A Houston car accident lawyer can help you calculate the value of whiplash injury claim and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Don’t Get Tricked by the Insurance Company!
While you are waiting for the resolution of your whiplash claim, focus carefully on your physical recovery. Every move you make has the potential to negatively affect your case.
When communicating with the insurance companies, you should:
- Stick to the plain facts of the accident, like the date, time, and location.
- Never admit fault or apologize for anything.
- Never see a doctor recommended by the insurance company. Your whiplash lawyer can connect you to the medical care you need at no cost.
Make sure you follow all of your doctor’s recommendations and attend all follow-up appointments. A gap in treatment could be used to disqualify your whiplash claim. Even answering “fine” to the routine question “how are you today?” could land you in hot water. If you are found to be engaging in strenuous activities, insurance adjusters may accuse you of faking or exaggerating injuries. They may even monitor your social media to dig up dirt on you!
Settling a car accident injury claim is never a fun process, but a whiplash lawyer will do their best to make it an easy one. They can handle all communications with the insurance company for you.
Can a Passenger Claim for Whiplash?
Yes, passengers in car accidents can also file personal injury claims.
In fact, since they are usually not liable for any portion of the accident, passengers tend to have even better results when they make a personal injury claim. Passengers are entitled to all of the same damages as an injured driver. In a multi-car accident, a passenger may be able to file a claim against all drivers involved. In a single car accident, the passenger may be able to file a claim against the driver’s insurance.
Sometimes injured passengers hesitate to take legal action because they feel it will ruin their relationship with the driver, who might’ve been a friend or family member. Don’t worry — you are not asking your friend for money, you are asking their liability insurance. That’s what it’s there for!
Passengers can prove their damages the same way we mentioned above. In Texas, under comparative fault laws, the passenger must first complete their medical treatment. Then, they will present their expenses to the insurance companies.
If you were a passenger in a taxi, Uber, or Lyft accident, the same steps apply. Contact a Houston car insurance lawyer for more info.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer for Whiplash?
A whiplash lawyer can compile evidence to support the claims you make and negotiate with the insurance companies to get you the maximum possible settlement amount. In certain whiplash injury cases, you may even need to file a personal injury lawsuit. A whiplash lawyer can protect your rights throughout this entire process, ensuring you get the most out of your car accident claim settlement case.
Luckily, personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay them nothing out of pocket!
Over the last 20 years, we’ve handled thousands of successful whiplash compensation claims throughout the Greater Houston Area.
Let our next victory be yours.
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