What to Do for Your Whiplash After A Car Accident
Getting hurt in a car accident can be devastating, especially when the injury results in a temporary or permanent disability.
Depending upon the severity of the crash and the specific facts of the accident, you may have sustained injuries that require multiple follow-up visits, surgeries, and treatments from your physician. Moreover, if you are undergoing treatment for your injuries, you may be unable to return to work until you have healed.
Recovering from a car accident can be a lengthy process, even if you were involved in a rear-end accident with minimal property damage. In many rear-end accidents, vehicle occupants sustain serious head and neck injuries, including whiplash.
If you were recently involved in a motor vehicle collision and suffer from whiplash, you are likely wondering what to do for whiplash after a car accident. We want to provide you with some information about seeking medical care for your injury, as well as details about seeking compensation for your whiplash injury.
What is Whiplash?
Before you can understand what to do for a whiplash injury after a car accident, it is important to learn more about this type of injury and how it often affects individuals who are involved in auto collisions.
According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is defined as “a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.” It occurs most frequently in rear-end auto accidents. In most cases, people who suffer a whiplash injury will experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Neck pain;
- Neck stiffness;
- Neck pain that gets worse with movement;
- Loss of or limited range of neck motion;
- Tenderness or pain in shoulders, back, or arms;
- Tingling or numbness in the arm;
- Fatigue; and/or
In some cases, people who sustain a whiplash injury also experience blurred vision, tinnitus, and other emotional or memory problems. For most people, symptoms start within 24 hours of the accident, but it may take much longer for symptoms to appear.
Seek Medical Treatment for Your Whiplash Injury
Now that you know more about whiplash, it is important to learn about treating it. The first thing you should do for your whiplash injury is to see a healthcare provider. When you see a healthcare provider about your injury, you should anticipate an exam and imaging tests to determine the severity of the injury.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the exam likely will include some or all of the following:
- Testing the range of motion in your neck;
- Determining the degree of motion that causes pain or increased pain;
- Identifying tender areas in the neck, shoulders, and back; and
- Testing your reflexes, including the strength and sensation you have in your limbs.
In all likelihood, your healthcare provider will order imaging tests to ensure that your condition has been caused by a whiplash injury. Those imaging tests may include one or more of the following:
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan; and/or
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
For treatment, your healthcare provider ultimately may prescribe one or more of the following:
- Take prescription pain relievers or prescription muscle relaxants;
- Get an injection of lidocaine in order to decrease pain to allow you to benefit from physical therapy;
- Work with a physical therapist to learn exercises to strengthen your neck muscles;
- Use transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which “applies a mild electric current to the skin” to ease neck pain;
- Have acupuncture;
- Seek chiropractic care; and/or
- Obtain a neck massage from a licensed massage therapist.
In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain additional medical treatment or even surgery.
Treat Your Whiplash Injury at Home
With advice from your healthcare provider, you also may be able to take steps to treat your whiplash injury at home. The following at treatment options that may be effective, according to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD:
- Icing your neck for 15 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days to reduce pain and swelling in the area;
- Applying moist heat to the neck after an initial 2-3 days of icing
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen;
- Wear a soft foam cervical collar for short periods of time based on your doctor’s recommendation; and
- Perform exercises that can help to restore the range of motion in your neck, such as rotating your neck, tilting your head from side to side, bending your neck forward toward your chest, and/or rolling your shoulders.
Take Legal Steps to Seek Financial Compensation for Your Whiplash Injury
The first legal step to take for your whiplash is filing an auto insurance claim. Under South Carolina auto insurance law, you may be able to file a claim either with the negligent driver’s insurance company (a “third-party claim”) or with your own insurance company (a “first-party claim”).
There are benefits and limitations to each, and you should discuss your strategy for negotiating a strong settlement offer with your car accident attorney.
If you cannot obtain the compensation you deserve through an auto insurance claim, you should work with an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney to file a car accident lawsuit. You should keep in mind that the statute of limitations for most car accidents in South Carolina is three (3) years.
As such, you likely will need to file a lawsuit within three years from the date of the collision that caused your whiplash injury if you want to be eligible to obtain compensation through a civil suit. If you do not file a lawsuit within the time period, you will have a “time-barred” claim and will not be able to file a lawsuit.
Contact a South Carolina Car Accident Attorney About Your Whiplash Claim
Nobody should have to suffer the consequences of another party’s negligence without seeking financial compensation. If another driver struck your vehicle from behind in a rear-end accident and you were diagnosed with whiplash, you may be able to file a claim for compensation.
An aggressive yet compassionate South Carolina car accident lawyer at our firm can speak with you today and can answer any questions. Contact Peace Law Firm to learn more about the services we provide to plaintiffs and their families in South Carolina.