One of the most common, but most controversial, results of an auto injury, permanent whiplash can debilitate a victim for life. While only a small percentage of accident victims suffer permanent damage from whiplash, many thousands suffer weeks or even months because of this painful injury. When someone else causes an auto accident that result in a whiplash injury, victims have a right to file a lawsuit to recover any damages they have suffered.
A whiplash injury occurs when some trauma causes the head to move suddenly in one direction, then reverse, and recoil in the opposite direction. It is often a soft-tissue injury that does not appear on x-rays, causing many insurance companies and defendants to doubt whether it exists at all. Most whiplash injuries heal within a few days or months. However, as much as twenty percent of whiplash injuries can last years or a lifetime. Those injures can involve damage to joint facets or discs.
The symptoms of a whiplash injury may not immediately appear, but the patient should watch out for any of the following indications:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Blurred vision
- Pain or unusual sensations in the shoulder, back, or arm
- Decreased range of motion
- Inability to sleep, fatigue, or lack of concentration
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries, with statistics indicating about 120,000 incidents per year. However, not all whiplash injuries occur in auto accidents. There are a number of other causes:
- Sports injuries, especially in contact sports such as hockey, soccer, and football
- Skiing and snowboarding accidents
- Work-related repetitive stress injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Assaults, especially those that cause head trauma
- Shaken baby syndrome or other types of child abuse
While whiplash can be a minor injury, it may result in costly damages. Any time a victim incurs medical costs, lost income, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and more because of such an injury, they have a right to compensation. Insurance companies have a system for calculating those damages that generally follows this pattern:
- The total of the actual costs, such a medical expenses, lost income, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and more – called “medical special damages”
- Times the severity of injury multiplier, which can range from 1.5 to 5 in most cases; up to 10 in extreme cases – the total is called “general,” or non-economic damages for pain and suffering
- The total value of an injury should equal the sum of those two figures
That total, however, will then be modified depending on the percentage of fault that is attributed to the victim, if any. Most states allow a victim to recover an amount proportionate to the liability charged to the defendant, though some states do not allow any award if a victim is more than fifty percent liable for their own injuries.
Getting Legal Help with Whiplash Compensation
Because whiplash can be a controversial injury claim, it can be vital to contact a personal injury attorney to help pursue this kind of claim. The first advice a lawyer often gives these days is to discontinue the use of the word “whiplash.” It has become associated with fake injuries and lawsuits, and has been replaced with the proper medical term that applies, such as hyperextension or hyper flexion injury, neck sprains or strains, or cervical strains or sprains. The case can then be pursued for the best settlement a personal injury attorney can obtain.