When you think about common injuries sustained in a car accident, whiplash is usually the first thing that comes to mind. While whiplash is often thought of as a minor, or temporary inconvenience, it can actually result in long-lasting problems that greatly impact your quality of life. These problems increase if whiplash is not diagnosed soon after the accident.
If you’re worried you may have undiagnosed whiplash after a car accident, read on to learn some of the signs that indicate you may be suffering from whiplash. We’ll cover what you need to ask your doctor, and how you can ensure you receive the proper compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck that occurs after the neck is forcefully and rapidly moved back and forth. The severity of the whiplash injury will depend on the speed and force involved in the accident. Whiplash is most commonly diagnosed after a rear-end car accident, but can occur due to other trauma such as falls or sporting accidents.
Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash often has no outwards signs or symptoms, which is why it is so easy to let it go undiagnosed. After a stressful incident like a car accident, our bodies release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that mask our pain. Because of this, you may not even realize you are in pain until hours after the accident. This is why it is critical that you immediately seek medical attention after an accident, even if you feel fine at the moment.
Some whiplash symptoms may not develop until a few days after the initial injury. These symptoms include:
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
How Long Do Whiplash Symptoms Last?
A few weeks after the initial accident is normally when the symptoms of whiplash begin to go away. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to feel the effects of whiplash for months, and sometimes even years after their accident. You are more likely to have severe symptoms if you had whiplash before, or were involved in a high-speed accident.
What Happens if Whiplash Goes Untreated?
When left untreated, whiplash can cause a wide array of issues, including, but not limited to:
- Problems sleeping
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory problems
While most symptoms subside quickly, between 12-50 percent of people have persistent neck pain after one year. These long-term problems are more likely to occur if you had severe initial pain immediately after the accident, pain that shoots into your arms or fingers, or neurological symptoms such as memory loss.
Can You Have Whiplash and Not Know It?
After any car accident, you should immediately be assessed by a qualified physician. You should let your doctor know what kind of accident you were involved in, so they can appropriately monitor you for symptoms of whiplash. You can also ask your doctor to order an MRI, CT, or x-ray to determine if you may have signs of whiplash, even if you don’t feel any symptoms immediately after the accident.
Unfortunately, whiplash injuries are often too small to be seen by any of these tests, even if you are experiencing pain. Being on the lookout for symptoms, and reporting them immediately to your doctor is your best chance of diagnosing whiplash in a timely manner.
Compensation for Whiplash Injuries
If your whiplash was caused by an accident that was due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, physical therapy bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, depending on your case. It is critical that you receive a full medical evaluation and assessment after your accident to determine the extent of your injuries, as well as to report any new symptoms to your doctor as soon as you notice them.
The next most important step is to contact an experienced whiplash lawyer, who can help you determine the appropriate compensation for your injuries. If you suffered whiplash due to someone else’s negligence, call the lawyers at Thistle Law today for a free consultation on your case. We can be reached at 215-525-6824 or by filling out our form here.