One of the most common injuries suffered by victims of car accidents (especially rear-end crashes) is whiplash, which occurs when a victim’s neck snaps back and forth like a cracking whip from the impact of the collision. This motion compresses and hyperextends or even tears neck ligaments connected to the spine. The strain on the soft tissues of the neck and upper back causes extreme pain and affects the victim’s ability to do anything that requires upper body movement.
Symptoms of Whiplash From A Car Accident
Trauma to the ligaments of the neck and spine can lead to nerve damage or painful herniated discs between the vertebrae. In addition to the pain and stiffness suffered by the victim, there could be other symptoms associated with whiplash:
- Reduced range of motion
- Jaw pain
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Tinnitus (ringing ears)
- Blurry vision
- Lack of concentration
- Memory loss
Such symptoms might not surface immediately after your accident. Even if you don’t feel you’re seriously injured after your car crash, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Some whiplash injuries can be detected right away only by a medical exam, X-rays, or an MRI. Delaying diagnosis and treatment of your whiplash injuries can aggravate them; immediate medical attention documents your injuries for legal purposes and gives you the best chance of a full recovery.
If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury in a North Charleston accident caused by a negligent driver, you’re entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages:
- Property damage
- Wages lost due to time off work
- All medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional/psychological trauma
Factors That Can Complicate Your North Charleston Car Accident Case
While the symptoms of whiplash might clear up in weeks or months for some patients, others could suffer longer, even for life in serious cases. Medical studies show that you’re likely to suffer long-lasting, chronic pain and reduced motion from whiplash if:
- You’ve had a previous whiplash or back/neck injury.
- You’re injured in a high-speed/strong impact collision.
- You have severe neck pain spreading to your limbs.
- Your range of motion is extremely limited.
- You’re over the age of 60.
If you’re one of the patients who suffers ongoing chronic pain due to your whiplash injury:
- Your medical expenses could be very high for an unforeseeable period of time.
- You might be unable to work for months or even years, so your lost wages could add up to a large amount of money.
For these reasons, your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company could be a very expensive one. The more expensive it is, the more likely the insurance company is to dispute or deny your claim. Every day, its adjusters and attorneys use specially designed tactics to avoid paying expensive claims because the company’s primary goal is to remain profitable.
They’re likely to offer you a quick, low settlement that might not cover your expenses and pressure you to accept it before you’ve even consulted an attorney. They know you’re no match for them when it comes to negotiating for a higher award, especially when you’re recovering from your injury, experiencing daily pain, and perhaps taking strong medication.
The Role of Your Attorney
While insurance claims for car accidents resulting in minor injuries, low medical bills, and little time off work might not require the services of a lawyer, expensive claims like those involving whiplash often do. While you’re recovering from your injuries, your attorney can increase your chances of getting a fair settlement in a number of ways you probably can’t:
- Examine the police report of your accident.
- Call in an independent investigator if necessary.
- Organize and present your medical evidence.
- Consult with your doctors about your long-term care/disability needs.
- Hire an accident reconstruction worker to prove the negligent driver’s liability.
- Obtain video footage of the accident from nearby cameras.
- Interview any witnesses to the crash.
- Call expert medical witnesses to testify to the severity and long-term implications of your whiplash injury.
- Put a monetary value on your current/future pain and suffering.
- Demand a fair settlement and negotiate with the insurance company to get you an acceptable award.
- Take your case to trial and fight for you in court if necessary.
For these reasons, you’re apt to get a much higher award with the services of an attorney than without them, so you have nothing to lose and much to gain by scheduling a free first consultation with a car accident/whiplash lawyer who can evaluate your case.
Protect and Strengthen Your Claim
If you’re physically able to do so, there are steps you can take at the scene of a whiplash accident to increase your chances of a successful claim for damages:
- Move to a safe area.
- Call 911 and report the accident to the police when they arrive. Give only required information.
- Take photos of all vehicles involved in the crash.
- Take photos of the accident scene, skid marks, and damaged guard rails, poles, or trees.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) and witnesses, but don’t discuss the accident.
- Don’t admit any fault to anyone.
- Note any nearby security cameras that might have gotten footage of the wreck.
- Don’t sign anything other than documents required by police.
- Don’t leave the scene without reporting the accident.
- Don’t make a cash deal with the at-fault driver or agree not to report the crash.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Notify your insurance company.
- Consult an attorney.
- Avoid communicating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company’s adjusters. If they call, refer them to your attorney.
- Don’t be in a hurry to repair your vehicle. Its wrecked condition might provide evidence of the negligent driver’s liability.
- Don’t post anything about the accident or your injuries on social media.
Have You Suffered a Whiplash Injury in a North Charleston Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our North Charleston, South Carolina law office directly at 843.488.2413 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or Charleston office locations.