Everyone has probably heard of whiplash, but many people might not know exactly what it is or why it occurs so frequently in car crashes. Additionally, if you are suffering from whiplash injuries in Dallas due to a car accident or other incident, you may be wondering what kind of relief you can get, beyond medical care.
In movies, whiplash is often portrayed in a nearly comic fashion. They show people wearing thick neck braces and wincing in pain, and they treat it as though it is a relatively simple injury. Unfortunately, in the real world, whiplash injuries can cause intense pain. Our Dallas whiplash injury lawyers discuss how whiplash can not only cause you pain immediately after an injury, but it can cause chronic symptoms that may stay with you, to some extent, for the rest of your life.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when your head is quickly thrown backward, and “whipped” forward again. There are actually a few different disorders for which we use the name “whiplash;” it is not the actual medical term for the disorder.
Cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) is the technical name for this sudden, whipping direction change that the neck goes through to cause whiplash. The more proper name for the actual diagnosis is “whiplash associated disorders” or WAD. The actual process of what happens in your neck is not actually clear to physicians. There are numerous ligaments and muscles that run through your neck, not to mention your spinal cord and the actual vertebrae of your spine. It may be that certain parts of your neck retract too hard and quickly when your head is sent backward so quickly that the injury occurs when your neck tries to straighten out again. What is clear, though, is that whiplash usually results from a stretching or tearing of one of the main ligaments in your neck.
How Does Whiplash Occur in a Car Accident?
In the context of a car crash, whiplash usually occurs when you are rear-ended. While your body, neck, and head are at rest, the sudden forward movement of the car jerks the back of the seat (along with the rest of the car), and the seat pushes into your back. This causes your head to fly backward. During this time, where your body is being pushed forward and your head is falling backwards, your spine deforms into an S-shape. Then, your spine snaps back into the proper shape, and may actually throw your head too far forward as well. This hyperextension of the neck is one of the iconic ways that whiplash injuries form.
While whiplash symptoms are usually resolved after a few weeks for about half of all whiplash patients, symptoms can continue for six months or more. Others may end up facing neck pain and headaches for the rest of their life. This might mean reliance on pain medication and medical treatment for years to come.
Most vehicles are equipped with head rests, which are very important in preventing whiplash. Head rests are also called “head restraints,” since they restrain your movement and stop your head and neck from bending too far backwards. This helps keep your head and neck in the proper alignment with your back, and helps to prevent whiplash injuries. This is part of why it is important to for drivers and passengers to always have their seats properly adjusted and their seatbelts fastened.
Whiplash may be most commonly associated with rear-impact car crashes, but it can actually occur in many situations. Activities like bungee jumping and roller coasters, where you suddenly stop, start, and change direction, may cause whiplash. The same goes for sporting injuries. There have even been documented cases where a particularly strong sneeze has left people with whiplash symptoms. It is also important to note that while a car crash requires some force to cause whiplash, cars are very heavy, so the momentum of even low-speed (e.g. five mile-per-hour) crashes may be enough to cause whiplash.
Compensation for a Whiplash Injury in Dallas, TX
Like any other injury to the neck, back, or head, whiplash is not something that should be taken lightly. Because it can take a few days after the injury occurs for whiplash symptoms to become obvious, it is best to not only seek immediate medical care, but to follow up a few days after your injury. A Dallas whiplash injury attorney can help you navigate the legal process for recovering compensation for your injuries.
Medical care, though, is expensive today. This means that, even for something that might seem so minor or occurred with a minor accident (such as a five mile-per-hour crash), the medical bills could be expensive. Fortunately, even for small accidents, courts are willing to award damages to injured plaintiffs. There is a rule in the legal system that says you “take the plaintiff as you find him.” That means that, no matter how fragile or prone to injury someone might be – or how healthy and tough they might be – the defendant is responsible for whatever injuries their actions or negligence cause.
This means that whiplash, no matter how severe or from how gentle a car crash, can be compensated in a court of law. All medical expenses brought about by the neck injury, whether they are immediately after the injury or years later, can be compensated. Additionally, especially if your job involves manual labor, a whiplash injury could put you out of work while you recover. Especially severe whiplash injuries could leave you in bed. All of this missed work means lost wages. Luckily, lost wages are recoverable, too.
Courts will also usually award damages for pain and suffering. While the actual pain associated with whiplash might not be as severe as more life-threatening injuries, it still has the potential for prolonged pain and discomfort. That could mean higher awards than expected. Since there is no legal limit or cap on pain and suffering damages in Texas, a jury could award as much money as they think is fair.
Speak to An Experienced Dallas Whiplash Injury Attorney
If your car has been rear-ended or you have been in another type of accident and now suffer from whiplash or other neck pain, you might be entitled to compensation. Dallas whiplash injury attorney Kevin Queenan of Queenan Law represents people who have been injured in accidents, car crashes, and other incidents, and helps them recover the financial compensation they deserve. If you want to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney, contact a Dallas personal injury attorney at Queenan Law today for a free consultation.