Whiplash is a type of soft tissue injury that affects the neck and upper back. These injuries are typically caused by violent forces that abruptly “whip” the neck back and forth, straining or tearing the muscles, ligaments, nerves, and other tissues in the neck. The bones in the spine and the discs between them could also be damaged.
Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that nearly one million Americans, suffer from whiplash injuries every year. Researchers also noted that the most common cause of whiplash is motor vehicle accidents, especially rear-end collisions.
Although whiplash is often considered a minor car accident injury, it can have serious effects. Severe whiplash injuries may cause long-term pain, disruptions to your daily life, and ongoing health effects. These injuries may even force you out of work. If your whiplash is the result of a California car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to pursue fair compensation for the damages you have suffered.
The personal injury lawyers of Custodio & Dubey LLP have 40 years of experience fighting for the rights of California accident victims. We understand that you may feel overwhelmed by your whiplash injury and unsure about how to move forward. Let us concentrate on pursuing a successful whiplash injury claim while you focus on your recovery. Contact us today for a free, confidential case review to get started. Our attorneys and staff speak Spanish.
Symptoms of Whiplash Injury
In a collision, the initial impact can thrust your body forward while your head takes a split second to catch up. This sudden forward and backward whiplike movement can damage your neck and soft tissues. Whiplash injuries caused by this kind of forceful motion are also sometimes known as “cervical muscle sprains” or simply “neck strains.”
The following whiplash symptoms often develop soon after an initial car accident injury, typically within several days:
- Stiffness and pain in the neck
- Neck pain that worsens with movement
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, especially those originating at the base of the skull
- Pain in the shoulder, upper back, or arms
- A tingling or numb sensation in the arms
- Fatigue and other sleep disturbances
- Blurred vision and dizziness
- Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears
- Depression, irritability, and other mood problems
- Difficulty with concentration or memory
In most cases, whiplash injury victims who follow treatment programs involving medication and exercise see improvement in their conditions within a few weeks. However, if whiplash injuries are severe or left untreated, it’s possible for victims to suffer from chronic pain and other long-term complications.
Whiplash affects every person differently, but you’re more likely to experience long-lasting consequences if:
- Your initial symptoms were severe.
- Your initial symptoms included intense neck pain, an extremely limited range of motion or pain that affected your upper arms.
- You have previously suffered whiplash injuries.
- You are an older adult.
- You suffer from existing pain in your lower back or neck.
- Your whiplash was caused by a high-speed collision.
How to Prove a Whiplash Injury
To recover compensation for a whiplash injury, you will need to show proof of the damage that was caused by your car accident. Since whiplash is not a visible injury, it can sometimes be difficult to demonstrate. Car accident victims typically need evidence in the form of medical documentation, which is why it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident.
When you visit your healthcare provider for a checkup, be honest and direct about your symptoms so your doctor can reach an accurate diagnosis and recommend the treatment you need. Do your best to follow through on your doctor’s recommendations regarding rest, prescription medications, or work restrictions. This will ensure that your whiplash injury is recorded as an official part of your medical history and also demonstrate that you are taking your injuries seriously if any questions arise during your claim.
In the meantime, it’s a good idea to maintain documentation of the following as supporting evidence for your whiplash injury claim:
- Medical records – Maintain documentation of any prescriptions, tests, diagnoses, or other medical records related to your whiplash treatment.
- Pain journal – Begin a journal to record how your whiplash injury affects your day-to-day life, your sleep patterns, and your ability to carry out your usual tasks.
- Bills – Keep records of any medical expenses, lost wages from missed time at work, and even travel costs from travel to appointments to demonstrate the financial costs associated with your whiplash injury.
- Evidence of the accident – Keep any evidence that you have of the wreck in a safe place. Your evidence might include photos of the crash, video, or witness statements.
Process of a Whiplash Injury Claim
It’s always better to start the claims process sooner rather than later. This can ensure that your claim is taken seriously and that your attorney can get to work before important evidence expires or witnesses forget the details of the accident. The typical process for a whiplash injury claim involves:
- Seeking medical attention for your injuries and receiving a whiplash diagnosis
- Notifying the at-fault driver’s insurance company in writing of your intent to file an insurance claim or lawsuit for the estimated value of your losses
- Waiting for insurance adjusters to conduct an investigation of your accident
- Participating in settlement negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Accepting a settlement from the insurance provider or taking them to court, if they refuse to offer a reasonable settlement amount
Keep in mind that just because you begin your whiplash injury claim promptly does not mean that you need to rush the settlement process. It’s important to understand the severity of your whiplash injury and how it is likely to affect your life going forward before you accept any settlement offers. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can assist you with each stage of the claims process and help estimate a reasonable value for your claim.
Proving that another party was negligent is an essential component of any California car accident claim or lawsuit. This is because California is a fault car accident state, which means that parties who are liable for crashes are also financially responsible for victims’ injuries.
Strong whiplash injury claims rely on your ability to demonstrate that the driver who caused your accident was behaving in a negligent manner. This means that their actions were dangerous and careless in a way that put you at risk.
Many whiplash injuries are caused by rear-end collisions. In most rear-end collisions, occupants of the leading vehicle sustain whiplash injuries because the driver of the following vehicle was negligent and failed to stop in time to prevent a collision. Your lawyer can help you demonstrate that another driver’s negligence caused your whiplash injuries with evidence such as:
- Photos of the accident scene
- Video footage from nearby security or traffic cameras
- Damage to the back of your vehicle and the front of the other vehicle
- Accident reconstruction diagrams from expert witnesses
- Police accident reports
- Statements from eyewitnesses and other vehicle occupants
Who Is Liable for a Whiplash Injury?
Liability is an important component of any personal injury claim. Under California law, the party who is liable for an auto accident is financially responsible for the damages caused by that accident, including the injuries suffered by anyone else involved. Liable parties are those who should have taken reasonable actions to prevent the accident but failed to do so, such as a driver who followed your car too closely.
If you suffer whiplash from a California car crash, you must prove that your injury was caused by the accident. Additionally, you must demonstrate that another person was liable for the crash. The other driver who was involved in the accident could be liable for your whiplash injury. Other parties may bear responsibility as well. For example, a manufacturer who developed or sold a defective car component could be partially or fully liable for the accident and the resulting injuries.
If more than one party is at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, you may be able to file claims for compensation against each liable party.
How an Attorney Can Help
An experienced California whiplash injury lawyer can help your case by:
- Explaining the laws that apply to your situation
- Helping you identify and collect valuable supporting evidence
- Putting you in touch with medical providers who can accurately diagnose and treat your whiplash injuries
- Starting and managing the process for your whiplash injury claim
- Negotiating with insurance providers of at-fault parties to demand the compensation you deserve
- Representing you in court, if insurance providers fail to offer a fair settlement
The legal team at Custodio & Dubey LLP offers free consultations and collects no up-front fees to get started on your case. You will never owe us a dime unless we win money for you, so you have nothing to lose when you contact us for an initial case review.