In the blink of an eye, you might find yourself the victim of a car accident. It only takes a second for two cars to collide. Whether there was something in the road or a driver was not paying attention, or any other reason, when an accident happens on the road it often leads to serious injuries. One of the more common injury that often gets overlooked by people and insurance companies, but is an injury that can have a major impact on your life and is whiplash injuries.
What Is the Cause of Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury that can be suffered when a person’s head suddenly moves backwards and then forward abruptly and with great force. Whiplash can occur due to a variety of events and occurrences, but it is probably most commonly associated with rear-end car accidents. Other commonly reported reasons for sustaining a whiplash injury to the head or neck include:
- Suffering physical abuse such as being punched, pushed, or kicked
- Playing a contact sport like football, soccer, boxing, or MMA
- Bicycling accidents
- Horseback riding
Whiplash is an injury that occurs due to soft tissue damage in your neck and back. Soft tissue includes the muscle, ligaments, and other tissue. Sudden movement can cause a whiplash injury because tendons and ligaments can stretch and tear.
What are Whiplash Injuries?
Whiplash is a relatively common injury that occurs to a person’s neck following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force. This term describes an injury to neck that is usually the result of being hit from behind and causes unrestrained, rapid forward and backward movement of the head and neck is often ignored or mistreated. When a person is hit from behind in a car or in any other type of car accident it is possible for the delicate tendons and ligaments in the neck to become strained or even torn, which can result in long lasting and debilitating pain. Whiplash injuries can be quite complex and may include a variety of related problems, such as:
- Joint dysfunction – The neck has several important joints that allow the head and torso to move freely, one of the more common issues related to whiplash is when the joints in the spine or limbs lose their normal resiliency and ability to absorb shock. This is often referred to in the medical community as joint play, possibly leading to a restricted range of movement and pain.
- Disc herniation – A disk herniation is another common whiplash injury that can lead to severe complications and may even require surgery. Because of the force that goes into a whiplash accident, the discs between the vertebrae, lead to small tears and cause the inner core of the disc to extrude through its outer core. If the disc’s inner core comes in contact with and irritates a nearby spinal nerve root, a herniated disc occurs, with symptoms possibly including sharp, shooting pain down the arm and even neurological symptoms like numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.
- Bone fractures – Broken or fractured bones are extremely serious and can take months or years to recover from. Injuries of this type can limit your mobility and ability to handle tasks of daily living. Surgery and therapy are often required as part of the recovery process.
- TBIs – Traumatic brain injuries can be inflicted by blunt-force that acts on the closed skull or penetrating forces that can pass through the skull. Regardless of whether the injury is closed or penetrating in nature, the type of problems experienced is related to the structures of the brain that suffered damage.
Anyone who has ever slept on their neck wrong knows how intense and debilitating the pain can be but imagine if you had to live with that pain every day for the rest of your life. If you had to live with a joint dysfunction or a herniated disk then you might want to consider filing a lawsuit.
Signs and Symptoms of a Whiplash Injury
The signs and symptoms of whiplash can differ for each individual affected by the condition. In many cases, the injured person may feel no symptoms of a whiplash injury for 24 hours or more following an accident or incident. However, in most cases, the sufferer of a whiplash injury will begin to express certain complaints within the first several days after the injury. He or she may complain of frequent and recurring headaches after the incident. In other individuals, neck stiffness and neck pain may also be present. Other people may experience whiplash as pain in the shoulders, pain between the shoulder blades, or low back pain. Still other people may not experience whiplash as pain but rather as a tingling, numbness, or burning in the arm or hand. Others may have an array of neurological impacts including memory issues, concentration problems, increased irritability, and sleep disturbances.
If it wasn’t already clear, the effect of whiplash can vary significantly from person to person. While some people may experience whiplash as physical pain, other people may face more neurological issues. Others people may experience both pain and neurological problems brought about by whiplash. Thus, if you are in an accident and something just doesn’t feel right, it’s always wise to seek the opinion of a medical professional as soon as possible.
Damages Available to Whiplash Victims in Pennsylvania
Whenever you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence you generally have the right to be fully compensation for all past and future damages that you may suffer as a result of your accident. One of the biggest problems with whiplash cases is that pain and suffering can be a difficult element to prove. However, when you have been injured and you are no longer able to enjoy the things that you once enjoyed this may serve as a good reason for a court to award pain and suffering damages.
Why Is it Important to Go to the Doctor or ER After a Suspected Whiplash Injury?
To start with the more obvious reason as to why it is important to seek medical treatment following a suspected whiplash injury, your foremost concern should be your health. The fact of the matter is that a whiplash injury is frequently an injury that will resolve on its own, severe whiplash injuries frequently require medical care. Furthermore, the symptoms of whiplash injuries include symptoms associated with extremely serious injuries. For instance, whiplash has many of the same symptoms that can be sustained when a moderate to severe concussion. Furthermore, whiplash has symptoms in common with neck fractures and other serious injuries. Therefore, the most obvious reason you should seek medical attention is to get the medical attention and all-clear that you need.
However, should you suffer a whiplash injury in a car accident or in other circumstances where the injury is caused by another person’s carelessness or negligence, getting medical attention can protect your ability to sue. By getting a medical opinion immediately following the accident, there is a clear record of your injury and its extent. If the other party later tries to claim that you were not injured or suffered the full extent of damage in a subsequent incident, the medical records will protect your ability to hold the other part accountable for your life-altering injury.
Can Insurance Cover My Injuries?
In general, there are 3 kinds of car insurance that Pennsylvania drivers are required to have, plus other kinds you can choose to buy or not. You can also choose different limits or amounts on each of these parts of your insurance.
- Personal Injury Insurance (PIP)- This type of insurance, which is commonly known as PIP for short or sometimes referred to as the medical expense benefit, is designed to cover the medical benefits for you and others included in your policy. PIP insurance does not consider fault, as the no-fault policy requires your own insurance company to cover your medical expenses. Under the laws in Pennsylvania, each Pennsylvania driver must carry a minimum of $5,000 of PIP coverage. However, in today’s day and age of rapidly escalating medical costs, carrying additional PIP coverage is recommended.
- Bodily Injury Liability -This type of vehicle insurance coverage pays for the medical and rehabilitation expenses of others who may be injured. Thus, if you are in an accident and the court decides that you are the reason for the injury, their damages will be paid out of this type of coverage. The minimum limit is $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident. The $30,000 number is the total available to all the people injured in one accident. As discussed above, medical costs have inflated extremely quickly. When there are multiple occupants in a vehicle or when multiple cars are involved in an accident, this limit can quickly be eclipsed.
- Property Damage Liability – This required coverage covers the cost of repairing or replacing property that you damaged in an accident for which you are found liable. The minimum is $5,000 of coverage. Again, consider the value of a vehicle and other property in today’s day and age. $5,000 in coverage will not go particularly far. If you do not have other assets to cover damages, you may be forced to sell off assets or property or face wage garnishment.
Additionally, certain all-purpose policies are acceptable coverage in Pennsylvania provided that, like above, it meets certain minimum coverage limits.
Let Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Fight for You
For more than 34 years the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm have worked to protect the rights of the seriously injured. We always prepare thoroughly and strategically for all matters to maximize the likelihood of the greatest possible settlement. To schedule your free and confidential consultation with an experienced The Reiff Law Firm personal injury attorney call (215) 246-9000 or contact us online.