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What Should I Do If I Get Whiplash from a Car Accident?

Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. Such injuries involve a rapid back and forth movement of the neck and can lead to serious pain if not treated. However, many victims of whiplash don’t realize the severity of their injury or even that they are hurt until enough time passes that their injury has gotten worse. Here our Massachusetts car accident attorneys explain how to recognize the signs of whiplash and what to do if you’ve been affected.

How Long Does It Take Whiplash to Show Up After an Accident?

It depends, but you probably won’t notice it right away. In fact, most people don’t realize they even have whiplash, so they wait to get treatment until they start experiencing serious back or neck pain. After a traumatic event like a car accident, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that prevent pain in order to help you endure an emergency. Until the effects of these wear off, you might have no idea you even suffered internal injuries.

Untreated whiplash can cause painful swelling and damage soft tissue like muscles and ligaments. It can also worsen if you continue to perform your regular day-to-day activities without treatment. For these reasons, seeking medical attention as soon as possible after an accident is always a good idea. A doctor is more likely to pick up on injuries you didn’t realize you had, saving you a lot of trouble in the long run.

If you feel any pain in your neck, back, or head, or clicking in your jaw, immediately after a crash, head to the emergency room right away. If you don’t feel any pain at all, make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible, if not the next day.

Symptoms of Whiplash

In some cases, it can take a few days for the symptoms of whiplash to develop. They can last for a few weeks, several months, or even longer, developing into a condition known as chronic whiplash. Here are some of the most common symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Stiffness and pain in the neck
  • Headaches, particularly at the base of the skull
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Weariness

Symptoms that are less common include:

  • Difficulty with concentration and memory
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, or head

If your symptoms spread to your shoulders or arms, moving your head becomes painful, or you experience numbness or weakness in the arms, you should immediately follow up with your doctor. Even if you feel fine in the aftermath of an accident, you should still see your doctor. You should tell him or her the details of the accident to help better assess any injuries you might have sustained. If you are experiencing any pain, explain where you are feeling it and if it is shooting, sharp, or dull. Your doctor might also conduct a physical exam to check your range of motion and to detect any areas of tenderness. To ensure the pain you are experiencing is not connected to other injuries or degenerative diseases, your doctor might also order an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

How Long Does Whiplash Last?

In most cases, those suffering from whiplash are able to achieve a full recovery within 18 to 24 months. Serious whiplash injuries, however, might result in symptoms that never fully disappear. To address these symptoms, your doctor might recommend physiotherapy or prescription painkillers.

Should I Seek Legal Help Regarding Whiplash After an Accident?

Whiplash is a complicated injury that can range from mild to severe. If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt, you might want to consider taking legal action against the at-fault motorist who caused your car crash.

Most car accident lawyers offer free consultations during which they will listen to your case and determine whether or not you have a viable lawsuit on your hands. We recommend at least taking advantage of this offer, as an attorney can also inform you of your legal rights and provide advice on what you should do to strengthen your claim as well as avoid making your injury worse.

It is best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident for several reasons:

  • The at-fault party’s insurance company will start investigating your claim immediately and will try to build a case against you so you can’t sue their client. Legal advice will help you avoid saying something to an insurance company that will hurt your claim.
  • Insurance companies will also try to persuade you to accept a quick settlement. However, this amount may be far lower than you need, especially if you later find out your injuries were more serious than they at first appeared. An attorney can give you a more accurate estimate of how much your claim is worth, helping you to avoid getting scammed by an insurer.
  • Securing legal representation from an experienced car accident attorney will ensure your claim is done right—and will allow you to focus on taking care of yourself rather than on complicated legal procedures.

Anything you say or do from the moment your accident occurs can be used against you by an insurance company. This is why you should never apologize for an accident, even out of politeness, because this can be twisted into an admission of guilt. Also, never sign anything from or give a recorded statement to the insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first. If an insurance agent calls to ask you questions, tell them you have an attorney and give them your lawyer’s contact information.

This is another reason to seek medical treatment right away. If you don’t see a doctor, the insurance company may claim that you weren’t actually hurt and therefore don’t have need of compensation. Medical records can be used to enhance your personal injury claim. By seeing a doctor right away and following their orders when it comes to treatment, you are protecting both yourself and your claim.

Do you think you have suffered whiplash? The Massachusetts car accident attorneys at Percy Law Group, PC can help you receive the compensation and medical treatment you deserve. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.