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If you recently were involved in a car accident in which another driver struck the rear of your vehicle, then you may have suffered whiplash. This is a type of neck injury which can be painful and possibly result in long-term disability. It can have a major impact on your physical and mental health, leading to medical expenses and extended days away from work.
If you have suffered whiplash in any type of accident, you should get legal help in addition to medical care and treatment. You may be entitled to recovery of personal injury damages, workers’ compensation benefits or Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
The lawyers of Marks & Harrison can review your case and guide you through your options. Call or reach us online today for a free consultation. We serve clients in Richmond and communities throughout Virginia.
What Is Whiplash?
As the North American Spine Society (NASS) explains, whiplash occurs when one’s head is suddenly thrust forward and backward while one’s body stays in place. This violent, whip-like motion stretches muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue in the neck. It can also cause nerve damage in the neck, or cervical area of the spine.
A whiplash injury may be immediately apparent to a victim due to severe, stabbing pain. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, many signs and symptoms do not show until a day or so later. These indications include:
- Stiffness in not only the neck but the arms and shoulders as well
- Tingling or numbness that spreads to the arms and hands
- Dizziness and headaches
- Blurred vision
- Difficulties with concentration and memory
- Inability to sleep
- Bowel and bladder issues.
If you experience any of these symptoms after being in a car accident or any other type of accident, you should go to the emergency room or see your family doctor as soon as possible. It is important to be diagnosed and started on a course of treatment.
You should also consult with an attorney who has experience with helping whiplash victims in their pursuit of benefits and compensation. A personal injury lawyer can play a crucial role in your recovery.
How Is Whiplash Treated?
When you see a doctor, make sure to explain how your whiplash symptoms arose. Knowing that you were in a rear-end car accident, for instance, can help the doctor to understand your symptoms and make a proper diagnosis.
The doctor may perform a physical examination of you. The doctor may also order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs or CT scans, which can help to identify the nature of the injury. In some cases, a test called electromyography may be used to identify nerve damage.
The treatment you receive will depend on the severity of your whiplash injury. It could include:
- Heat and ice
- Pain medication
- Muscle relaxants
- Lidocaine injections (a local anesthetic)
- Foam collar (meant to restrict movement)
- Physical therapy.
Some whiplash victims may choose alternative forms of treatment offered by chiropractors.
According to the NASS, the majority of people who suffer whiplash recover within a few days or weeks. However, roughly 10 percent of whiplash victims will experience chronic pain that can cause significant physical and emotional issues, including depression.
What Causes Whiplash?
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of whiplash injuries, the NASS reports. Rear-end crashes, in particular, cause victims in the lead vehicle to suffer this type of injury. This is true for two main reasons:
- In a rear-end crash, a passenger in the lead vehicle will feel his or her neck forced forward at impact. At the same time, a seat belt will keep the passenger’s body from moving. This results in the motion that causes whiplash.
- The body has a way of responding to impending trauma. However, a person in a lead vehicle who doesn’t see a car approaching won’t experience what Spine-Health.com calls the body’s “inherent stabilization response.”
According to the NASS, whiplash can also be experienced by those who are involved in head-on collisions and side-impact crashes as well.
In addition to motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls also commonly cause whiplash injuries. The same unusual movement of the neck that occurs in a crash can happen when one falls (or tries to avoid a fall). These injuries often arise in the workplace or due to dangerous property conditions such as slippery floors, uneven walking surfaces, poor lighting or broken stairs.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your Whiplash Injury?
It is crucial to have your case thoroughly investigated if you have suffered whiplash in a motor vehicle accident. At Marks & Harrison, we can put our experienced investigators onto your case right away and identify why your crash occurred and who should be held liable.
For instance, if you suffered whiplash in a rear-end accident, it may have been due to the negligence of the driver in the trailing vehicle such as:
- Driving while distracted (talking on a cell phone or texting)
- Driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol or fatigue.
We can carefully prepare your case and seek a full and fair settlement of your personal injury claim from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or, if needed, we can pursue compensation through your own uninsured / underinsured (UM / UIM) policy. This compensation can cover:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost income and reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- All other accident-related losses.
Our role as your lawyers is to also explore all other options for you. These options may include:
- Workers’ compensation benefits – If you suffered whiplash in motor vehicle accident, fall or other incident while you were working, you may be eligible to receive medical benefits and lost-wage benefits through your employers’ workers’ compensation insurance. You would not need to establish anyone’s fault to qualify for these benefits, and you could obtain them even if you were at fault. If you were injured by a non-employer, or “third party,” you could pursue a personal injury claim in addition to filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits – If your whiplash injury prevents you from being able to return to your job or work at any other job, you may have a condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s narrow definition of a “disability.” We can help you to go through the process of applying for SSD benefits and help you in any appeals if your application is initially denied.
Contact a Richmond Whiplash Attorney Today
At Marks & Harrison, we take whiplash injuries seriously. We want to play a role in your recovery. Contact us today to talk about your case in a free, timely and confidential consultation. We can meet at our Richmond office or in any of our other offices found throughout Virginia. We will review the facts of your case and go over all of your options for seeking the benefits and other compensation you deserve.
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