Whiplash injuries are so often associated with car accidents that most individuals assume someone wearing a cervical collar has been in one. The assumption is often true; whiplash injuries are a common result of rear-end collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that the more than 1.4 million rear-end collisions reported in 2020 exceeded each of the other accident types. It’s most likely also true that the individual whose vehicle was hit from behind was not the primary cause of the accident.
When an individual suffers harm as a result of another person’s negligence, the issue of damage compensation often arises. State laws, however, do not all follow one uniform formula when assigning responsibility for negligence. Individuals harmed in vehicle accidents often turn to an attorney familiar with the relevant state’s laws. When someone is legally determined to be the primary cause of an accident, the court could order the negligent party to compensate a whiplash victim for the harm suffered.
A driver or passenger in a vehicle struck from behind may seek compensation for:
Drivers who cause accidents because they failed to operate a motor vehicle with the same level of care that a reasonable individual would use under similar circumstances could be held responsible for their negligence. This is based on the obligation, which is legally referred to as a “duty of care,” to remain aware of and respect the safety of other vehicles.
A driver’s duty of care to others on the road includes:
In many cases, drivers operating the rear vehicle in accidents are assumed to be at fault based on their duty of care to remain aware of other vehicles and keep to a safe following distance. It could, however, require an auto accident attorney to prove that the driver of the rear vehicle was the primary cause of the collision.
Although it’s obvious that high-speed collisions can cause serious or deadly harm to vehicle occupants, a low-speed rear-end impact that causes whiplash injuries can also result in long-term and debilitating medical conditions. Based on accident studies, it’s been shown that significant personal harm could result even in a 5 or 10 mph rear-end impact.
A whiplash injury results when an individual’s head unexpectedly snaps forward or backward. The action of snapping the head and neck back and forth is similar to the action of cracking a whip. The force of the sudden movement exerts considerable strain on the spine and neck. The resulting damage can affect muscles, bones, nerves and ligaments. Spinal cord fractures could also occur.
Depending on the severity and amount of damage that occurs in the upper back and neck, a whiplash injury could cause painful symptoms that could last weeks, months or years. Whiplash injuries can lead to conditions that affect cognitive, body and emotional health.
Some of the long-term physical effects whiplash injuries could bring include:
Some long-term cognitive and emotional effects of whiplash may include:
The extreme pain that can result from a whiplash injury may cause a loss of mobility that makes it impossible to perform at work or carry on with common day-to-day tasks. In addition to covering the cost of the required medical recovery, a personal injury suit could compensate a harmed individual for issues such as reduced quality of life and long-term pain and suffering. Future life plans and career goals could also be disrupted or no longer possible; these are matters that a personal injury attorney could present to a court to show the need for reasonable compensation.
It’s possible for the symptoms and effects of a whiplash injury to not show until days or weeks after an accident. Some individuals may not even be aware they suffered an injury at first. There could be some initial pain and discomfort immediately after the accident, but it may be brushed off as something that will go away on its own over the next few days. This may not be the case, however, and it’s wise to get checked out by a doctor following a vehicle accident. The initial post-accident discomfort could give way to more severe whiplash-related symptoms.
Seeing a doctor after a car accident also provides credible documentation regarding the injuries suffered. Medical documentation helps a car accident attorney obtain the amount of compensation appropriate to the full extent of the harm suffered.
A preventable accident generally refers to one that could have been prevented if not for someone’s carelessness. The negligence behind a preventable accident needn’t be limited to the driver of another vehicle. A whiplash injury could, for example, also result from a slip and fall accident.
If property owners fail to remove snow or ice from their sidewalks or steps, they could become liable for the injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident. The harmed individual could initiate a personal injury premises liability suit to recover from the injuries suffered. The owner of a property or a business owes a duty of care to provide safe areas for visitors and customers.
In some cases, a whiplash injury could also involve a product liability suit if, for example, an exercise device or a defective work tool caused a user to fall or otherwise violently snap their head forward and backward. Product and equipment manufacturers owe a duty of care to their users to take all reasonable steps to ensure no harm occurs.
Because most individuals who are involved in vehicle accidents will suffer from whiplash, the choice of an attorney familiar with these injuries and the state laws regarding negligence can be an important decision. To present a case for the appropriate amount of compensation, an attorney could show the full extent of the injuries sustained along with their impact on the accident victim’s finances, employment and quality of life. It is not reasonable to expect this type of compensation to reflect what an insurance company will offer.
Unfortunately, once an insurance company’s settlement offer is accepted and a release is signed, any remaining options can become extremely limited. If the injury symptoms worsen or continue longer than expected, there may be no hope of obtaining any further compensation.
The auto accident attorneys at Fielding Law are dedicated to fighting for the interests of their clients. If an insurance company does not make a reasonable offer, they will take the case to court. Hundreds of car accident victims have been helped by the Fielding Law team and have received the full amount of compensation they deserved. If you’ve been in a vehicle accident, contact the Fielding Law team at (877) 880-4090 to learn about your options in a no-fee consultation.