One of the most common injuries suffered by car crash victims is whiplash, which is usually caused by the head being abruptly jerked backward or forward following an impact. Whiplash symptoms can range from mild to severe, but all are painful. If you or a loved one were recently injured in a car crash in Charlotte and are currently suffering from whiplash, it is critical to speak with an experienced car accident attorney who can help you seek compensation for your medical expenses.
When the neck is jerked forward or backward quickly and forcefully, the muscles and ligaments of the neck may extend beyond the typical range of motion. This can cause the ligaments to stretch and even tear, resulting in an injury that is referred to as whiplash. Unfortunately, many victims do not immediately seek medical care following a car crash because whiplash often manifests more than 24 hours after the traumatic event. However, as soon as a person begins to experience some or all of the following symptoms, he or she should seek medical attention as soon as possible:
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Headaches, usually starting at the base of the skull;
- Loss of range of motion in the neck;
- Lower back pain;
- Neck pain and stiffness;
- Numbness or tingling in the arm or hand;
- Pain in the shoulder, shoulder blade, or upper back; and
- Sleep disturbances.
In some severe cases, injured parties may even experience more serious symptoms, including:
- Blurred vision;
- Chronic pain;
- Memory problems; and
- Ringing in the ears.
Most whiplash victims recover within a few months of their accident, although some may struggle with chronic pain for years after the crash.
Diagnosing whiplash can require a number of expensive tests. This is in large part due to the fact that injuries to soft tissues, such as ligaments and muscles, do not show up on standard x-rays. As a result, most patients will need to utilize specialized imaging tests, which include computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CT scans are a specialized type of x-ray that produces multiple cross-sectional images of the bones. MRIs, on the other hand, uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create 3D images and can detect soft tissue injuries.
A patient will also be required to undergo an examination by a licensed physician who will most likely need to observe him or her move the head, neck, and arms. This can help the doctor evaluate:
- The patient’s range of motion in the neck;
- The degree of motion that causes pain;
- Whether there is tenderness in a specific part of the neck, back, or shoulders; and
- The patient’s reflexes and strength in the limbs.
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed, the doctor can begin to create a treatment plan for the patient.
There are a number of possible treatment options for those with whiplash, including:
- Administering pain relief medications;
- Performing gentle exercises and stretching;
- Physical therapy, which may be used to help patients strengthen muscles, improve posture, and restore normal movement;
- Using a traction device;
- Receiving injections of lidocaine to numb the muscles;
- Professional massages; and
- Icing, especially within the first 24 hours after sustaining the injury.
The course of treatment recommended for a whiplash victim will depend largely on the person’s age, sex, physical health, and the severity of the injury. Initially, many doctors recommended that patients suffering from whiplash wear foam collars to immobilize their necks. Recent data, however, has revealed that this can actually decrease muscle strength and so delay recovery and patients should instead, slowly resume movement in the affected area. Exercise has also proven an effective method of treatment for many patients, who are primarily urged to focus on:
- Rotating the neck in both directions;
- Tilting the head from side to side;
- Bending the neck towards the chest; and
- Rolling the shoulders.
Applying moist heat to the muscles prior to exercise can help increase the effectiveness of these types of limbering exercises. However, those suffering from particularly severe whiplash may be unable to exercise or stretch. Instead, these individuals may need to rely exclusively on physical therapy and pain relievers.
MRIs and CT scans are notoriously expensive, even with insurance coverage. As a result, merely diagnosing whiplash can cost car crash victims thousands of dollars in medical bills. Treatment, which could include doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, prescription medications, and purchasing traction devices can all be expensive and quickly overwhelm an injured party’s finances. Fortunately, whiplash victims can obtain compensation for their economic losses, including medical expenses. In certain cases, injured parties may also be eligible to receive compensation for the pain and suffering they endured as a result of their injury.
Establishing that an injury was caused by a defendant’s negligence can be difficult, so it is important that accident victims retain all of their medical records, including physician reports, MRI and CT scans, and examination results. This documentation can be pivotal in demonstrating that a defendant was responsible for the injury. It may also be necessary to seek the advice of a medical expert who can testify in court as to the cause of the injury.
Contact a Dedicated Car Accident Lawyer
Many car crash victims who suffer from whiplash will suffer from chronic pain and a limited range of motion for years after the accident. This can take an extreme physical, emotional, and financial toll on the injured parties and their families. For instance, patients suffering from whiplash are often unable to work for days or even weeks after their injuries, which can add to their financial burdens. Car crash victims can and should collect compensation from the liable parties, so if you live in Charlotte and were recently diagnosed with whiplash after being involved in a car crash, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. today by completing one of our contact forms or initiating a live chat with a member of our experienced Charlotte car accident legal team who can help you schedule a free consultation.