Whiplash injuries can cause severe neck, shoulder, and extremity pain and can be debilitating. The most common cause of whiplash is a motor vehicle accident that whips the head back and forth. Television shows and movies sometimes stereotype whiplash as a fake injury, with actors in neck braces faking pain for sympathy. But, if you have whiplash, you know that the pain is real and you are not faking the injury’s disabling effects. Our team of Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Whiplash symptoms can be so severe that you can’t work, participate in activities you enjoy, and handle day-to-day living. If someone caused an accident that gave you whiplash, you deserve compensation for your injuries. The Oklahoma City whiplash lawyers of Abel Law Firm can assess your case and pursue the money you need from the at-fault party. Call our Oklahoma City whiplash attorneys today at (405) 239-7046 for a free confidential consultation.
What Is a Whiplash Injury and How Does It Occur?
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when the neck bends forcibly in one direction and then in the opposite. The violent back-and-forth movement to the neck is similar to when a whip cracks. The force during a whiplash injury damages the neck’s muscles, discs, nerves, ligaments, or tendons.
The Spine Research Institute of San Diego estimates that more than 3 million whiplash injuries occur in the U.S. each year. Whiplash occurs most often in sudden acceleration or deceleration accidents, such as in rear-end accidents. Whiplash can also occur in contact sports, such as when a player is unprepared for a football tackle. Physical abuse can also cause whiplash. This can occur in instances when a person is punched or shaken. Sadly, whiplash often occurs in shaken-baby syndrome. Whiplash can result from any event in which the neck whips back and forth.
What Are Whiplash Symptoms?
Sometimes whiplash symptoms appear immediately. Sometimes, symptoms do not appear for weeks or months after an accident. Whiplash symptoms may include:
- Neck pain, particularly with movement
- Neck tightness and reduction in range of neck movement
- Shoulder pain
- Pain, tingling, or numbness in the arms or hands
- Headaches, particularly at the base of the skull
- Ringing in the ears
Whiplash can also cause cognitive or psychological conditions such as irritability, dizziness, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also cause sleep disturbances like tiredness or insomnia.
What Is the Treatment and Prognosis for Whiplash?
Doctors will treat whiplash conservatively with pain medication and exercise. Immobilization, such as with a neck brace, and physical therapy are also commonly prescribed. Most whiplash victims feel better within a few weeks while following a conservative treatment plan.
Unfortunately, some people have chronic neck pain or other complications that can last for several months or years after the injury. Recovery, if it is going to occur, tends to happen within the first three months of the injury, with only slight improvement after this period. Ten to twenty percent of individuals with whiplash injuries develop long-lasting symptoms that negatively affect their ability to work and enjoy life.
Predicting any individual’s recovery time from whiplash is difficult. Doctors do not know why some people recover from whiplash more quickly than others. But a person may be more likely to have chronic pain if symptoms begin quickly and severely, including severe neck pain, pain spreading through the arms, and limited range of motion. Further, a person is more likely to have long-lasting whiplash effects if:
- They previously had whiplash or another preexisting neck or back injury,
- The person is older, or
- A high-speed collision caused the injury.
Long-lasting whiplash symptoms typically affect the ability to work.
What Damages Can You Recover for Whiplash?
You can seek compensation from the at-fault party for your injuries through settlement negotiations or pursuing a trial in a lawsuit. In Oklahoma, you must file a lawsuit against the at-fault party within two years of the date of the accident. After that deadline passes, you lose the opportunity to hold the negligent party liable in court and lose any leverage to try to obtain a settlement from the insurance company.
The compensation you can legally recover will vary with the circumstances of your claim. Severe whiplash, which causes life-long work disability and the inability to enjoy daily activities, can result in much more compensation than minor whiplash, in which the victim fully recovers in a few weeks.
You can pursue compensation in Oklahoma for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Medical bills for whiplash can include care from physicians, chiropractors, or physical therapists. You can also seek recovery for medication costs. Lost wages include the value of the wages and benefits you could not earn because of the injury. You may also obtain compensation for lost future earnings if your whiplash injury prevents your return to work. Pain and suffering can be hard to quantify, but an experienced attorney can assess the value of the stress, anxiety, and depression the whiplash injury has caused.
Punitive damages might also be available. Punitive damages are designed to punish the negligent party for their wrongdoing and to prevent them or anyone else from committing that act again. Juries award punitive damages at trial only after deciding that clear and convincing evidence showed that the negligent party’s actions were malicious and intentional. Punitive damages are rarely awarded.
What Should I Do If I Have a Whiplash Injury?
If you have been in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you believe you have whiplash, seek immediate medical care. Prompt and proper whiplash treatment increases your chances of a swift and complete recovery.
Contact Our Oklahoma City Whiplash Attorneys Today
Once a doctor has diagnosed and treated you, seek help from the experienced Oklahoma City whiplash attorneys at Abel Law Firm. Especially if you are one of the many victims who suffer significant and long-lasting whiplash symptoms, you need experienced legal help to get you the compensation you need to recover and move forward with your life. At Abel Law Firm, our Oklahoma City personal injury attorneys have handled many whiplash cases and know how to build your best claim for compensation. Contact Abel Law Firm today at (405) 239-7046 for your free consultation, and let our attorneys help you protect your rights.