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Whiplash: The Garden-Variety Injury

Whip-Lash Car Accident.jpg

Whiplash ranks as the most frequent injury in auto accident insurance claims, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute. Based on National Analysis Sampling System (NASS) data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated 805,581 whiplash injuries occurred in the United States alone from the years 1988 and 1996. Furthermore, of these incidents, about 272,464, resulted from rear end collisions. That's a lot of people with whiplash!

Whiplash, a sudden forward and backward movement of the neck, is a common injury many suffer from at least once in a lifetime. It usually occurs in a rear-end auto collision, but it can also result from sports injuries, amusement park rides or even physical abuse. Unfortunately, whiplash injury is so common, it's typically ignored, overlooked, mistreated, or misdiagnosed.

Whiplash is defined by Mayo Clinic as a "neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip." Whiplash is also known as "neck sprain" or "neck strain" and is one of the most common types of neck injuries in the United States. It results from a forceful impact when a person is pushed forward suddenly. This causes the muscles and ligaments around the spine and neck to move quickly and beyond the typical range of motion.

Neck strains are often confused with neck sprains. They're a bit different. Neck strains are caused by damage to the muscle or the tendons, bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Neck sprains are caused by tearing of the ligaments, the tissues that connect the bones to each other. --Web MD

People who suffer from whiplash could also suffer from other, more obvious injuries, such as bruising, contusions, concussion, lacerations, broken bones, headache, confusion, stiff neck, sore shoulders and arms. But whiplash, if left untreated, can lead to missed work days, partial disability, and chronic pain. Within the first 24 hours of any accident, symptoms of whiplash tend to manifest and can include, but are not necessary limited to the following, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Pain in the neck, which worsens with movement.
  • Limitations in movement of the neck.
  • Headaches which begin in the base of the head.
  • Pain and/or tenderness in one or both shoulders.
  • Tingling sensation in the arms.
  • Numbness in the arms.
  • Fatigue and dizziness.

In addition to these common symptoms of whiplash, some people also experience blurry vision, disturbances in their sleep, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, irritability, trouble concentrating, problems with memory, and even depression. Luckily, whiplash is rarely a life-threatening injury. Whiplash symptoms can last for a few hours or become a chronic condition and it is crucial to seek medical treatment if you have experience whiplash from an auto-accident or other trauma. Motor vehicle accidents are commonplace on California's busy roads and unfortunately, so is whiplash. If you or a loved one has suffered whiplash from being in a motor vehicle accident, you should consult an experienced lawyer right away. Contact Vititoe Law Group for a free case evaluation. There are time limits on filing a claim so it's imperative speak with an attorney immediately to learn all about your legal options.

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