Whiplash is an injury to your neck caused by the movement of your head. It is common in rear-end car accidents. When your vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle, the force of the impact causes your head to move back and forth rapidly. Given that a seatbelt restrains your torso, the soft tissue in your neck overextends.
Muscles, ligaments, and tendons stretch beyond their standard capacity, which can do significant damage. Some of these soft tissues can tear in an accident, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain.
If the whiplash is severe, it can extend beyond damage to the soft tissues, and cause injury to the vertebra and disc in your neck. These types of spinal injuries can permanently alter your ability to do any number of activities and leave you with chronic issues that require ongoing medical treatment.
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Are Symptoms of Whiplash Noticeable Right Away?
Not always. In fact, it’s common to miss the symptoms of whiplash at first. A common occurrence in car crashes is an immediate adrenaline surge that can mask the pain from even severe injuries.
Most paramedics and other emergency personnel can tell you stories of arriving at an accident to find someone claiming to be okay, or perhaps even walking around, unaware of a serious or even life-threatening injury. If you are involved in any type of accident, it is always a good idea to have a comprehensive medical examination done as soon as possible after the accident.
Whiplash is not easily detected on imaging, and the insidious nature of the injury means that it can take hours, or sometimes even days, to notice the first symptoms. When you do, please seek immediate medical attention and always let the provider know you were involved in an accident.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash?
If you, or someone you know, has been involved in an Oklahoma car accident, it is crucial to know the signs and symptoms.
These can include:
- Pain in your neck, arms or shoulders
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Decreased range of motion
- Stiff neck
- Memory disturbances
- Chronic pain in the neck and back
Whiplash may not manifest immediately after the accident, so be aware of these symptoms which can arise some time after the accident. Medical documentation is crucial for a personal injury claim, so seek medication attention at the first onset of symptoms.
How is Whiplash Diagnosed?
Whiplash, like many other soft tissue injuries, can be difficult to diagnose.
The initial assessment usually begins with a physical exam. A doctor will ask questions about the accident and have you list any symptoms that you’re experiencing. Then, based on the results of the exam and the information you provide, the physician might order some diagnostic tests. These might include:
- CT Scans, or
Unfortunately, whiplash injuries often occur in structures that are too small to be seen on imaging tests. So, many times, doctors have to rely on a patient’s symptoms to diagnose a case of whiplash.
Are Car Accidents the Only Cause of Whiplash Injuries?
Car accidents are a common cause of whiplash, but it is not the only cause of this type of injury. Any kind of trauma that causes a rapid back and forth or side-to-side movement of your head can result in whiplash.
Other causes of whiplash include:
- Sporting accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Physical assaults
- Other motor vehicle accidents including truck accidents and motorcycle accidents
Given the potential seriousness of whiplash, and how long it can take to recover physically, it is essential to speak with an attorney after an accident. McGuire Law Firm can help you understand what options are available to you if another party was involved in causing your injury.
What Should I Do if I Suspect I Have Whiplash?
The first step is to seek medical attention immediately. If your doctor diagnoses you with whiplash, he or she will advise you on treatment options and physical therapy that are appropriate for your injury.
Whiplash is painful, and it is natural to want to remain still to avoid exacerbating pain. However, that is usually the wrong move. Resting and refraining from movement can make whiplash worse. Your doctor may suggest a light exercise program as part of your treatment.
The treatment protocols used for you will depend on your age, the severity of the injury, and your doctor’s experience with whiplash injuries. Treatment often includes heat or ice, medications such as muscle relaxers, lidocaine injections, physical therapy or exercise, and a neck brace.
What If I Share Some of the Blame For My Whiplash Injury?
Oklahoma is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that you will be unable to recover damages if it is determined you are more than fifty percent to blame for your accident. However, if you are allocated fifty percent or less of the blame, you can still recover damages even if you contributed to the accident.
Your recovered damages will be reduced by the percentage of your contribution to the injury. So, if you are found to have contributed forty percent, then your financial award will be reduced by forty percent.
Insurance companies will attempt to blame you for the accident, even if you had no fault in what happened. You will have to fight back to protect your ability to recover compensation. You will need an experienced Oklahoma City whiplash injury attorney to help you navigate the complicated waters of your injury claim.
McGuire Law Firm will do everything possible to protect you from false claims. We will gather evidence that minimizes your role in the accident and take steps to protect you from being blamed for more than you contributed to the accident.
What Compensation Can I Receive for a Whiplash Injury in Oklahoma?
A whiplash injury can interfere with your life, cause permanent neck damage, or even lead to a permanent disability. Many times, whiplash injury victims are forced to take time away from work, which can cause significant financial stress. Whether your injury is deemed mild, moderate, or severe, you deserve compensation if someone else is to blame for the accident.
Under Oklahoma state law, you can recover damages for:
- Present and future medical expenses, including therapy and rehabilitation
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering, including emotional trauma
We work closely with an array of experts to determine the value of your personal injury case. With this information, we will fight hard to ensure you receive as much compensation as possible for your injury.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Whiplash Injury Lawsuits in Oklahoma?
If you suffered a whiplash injury in Oklahoma, you will have a limited amount of time to make a demand for compensation. In most Oklahoma cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date you discover or should have reasonably discovered the whiplash injury.
Do not wait too long. Even if you file your case within the statute of limitations, it can be harder to win the award you deserve if too much time passes. As soon as you realize that you have been injured, reach out to McGuire Law firm for help.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers Today
Whiplash is a serious injury. Whether your neck injury is the result of a traffic accident or you suffered whiplash at work, the Oklahoma City personal injury lawyers at McGuire Law Firm are here to help. We will do everything in our power to help you secure maximum compensation from all responsible parties. Contact our law office today for a free consultation to learn more.