While it is most often associated with car accidents, especially rear-end collisions, whiplash and other types of neck trauma can arise from many other types of accidents. For example, a neck injury can happen in a slip and fall accident, in a sports or recreational accident, or in jobs in which repeatedly turning the neck is required, leading to a repetitive stress injury. Many people believe that whiplash is not very serious and can be easily resolved. While this is sometimes true, there are also situations in which, like other soft tissue injuries, whiplash can have significant consequences for a victim’s health and quality of life.
The term "whiplash" has developed a negative connotation. An injury described as whiplash may sometimes be better described as hyperflexion or hyperextension.
The term “whiplash” has acquired negative connotations linking it to claims that lack merit. You may not want to use this word in your claim or lawsuit, instead choosing a more scientific term to describe your neck injuries. Whether this type of injury is called whiplash, hyperflexion, or a neck strain or sprain, however, it involves an extreme extension and flexion of the neck that occurs when the victim’s body moves suddenly while their head stays fixed. Whiplash may or may not be proportionate to the speed at which a motor vehicle collision or a fall happened. The victim’s height, physique, and posture, as well as the size and weight of any object striking the victim, can have just as great an effect as the force of impact.
Diagnosing and Treating Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries
A wide range of symptoms can be associated with a blow to a victim’s neck. In addition to pain, stiffness, and decreased function in that area, they may suffer from vision problems, headaches and vertigo, or pain in surrounding areas of their body, such as their shoulder or back. Some victims report a psychological impact or challenges in concentration, as well as an inability to sleep that leads to excessive fatigue. You should seek care from a doctor if you believe that you have suffered neck injuries in an accident, and you may want to go to the emergency room if your symptoms are serious. Even if the doctor or emergency room staff determine that your condition is stable, you should not hesitate to seek further diagnosis and treatment if your symptoms persist or change.
Building a Claim Based on Whiplash or Neck Injuries
As noted above, you should be prepared for the possibility that an insurer will downplay the value of your claim. Neck injuries can be more ambiguous and easily challenged than something that is plainly visible, such as burns, lacerations, or fractures. To fight back against an insurer that is suspicious of your claim, you should collect documentation of the accident and your injuries, including medical reports and bills.
Proving a Whiplash or Neck Injury
A plaintiff may have a better chance of persuading an insurer or a jury of the extent and effects of their whiplash or neck injuries with comprehensive medical records and expert testimony.
You may need to retain an expert to describe the mechanics of the accident and the type of strain that it would have placed on your neck. Other experts may be able to explain to an insurer or jury why your harm has a more lasting impact than some types of neck injuries. If you can no longer work in your current job or occupation after suffering this type of injury, a vocational rehabilitation specialist can discuss its impact on your earning capacity. Testimony from friends and family members can describe the pain and suffering that you endured. These are just some examples of how to build evidence for a neck injury claim.