We usually associate car accidents that cause injuries with property damage to the vehicle. Some of the most serious accidents leave cars crumpled. Their occupants are cut out of the wreckage by the emergency services. The victims may be critically injured or unconscious. However, you can get whiplash from a car accident with no damage.
Orthopedic problems and soft tissue injuries like whiplash injuries may not show themselves for several days. Often victims will believe they escaped the incident with no consequences. No damage was caused to the car and they appeared to be unharmed. In the days after the crash, their symptoms will likely get worse. Baltimore car accident injury attorney Randolph Rice is here to explain the signs and symptoms of whiplash and when you can sue for it in Maryland.
Ways to Get Whiplash in a Car Accident
Whiplash is the non-medical term given to a neck injury caused by forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. It refers to cervical hyperextension and hyperflexion injuries to the soft tissue around the cervical spine. It’s associated with a sudden movement similar to the cracking of a whip. Often whiplash injuries occur in rear-end car accidents. People hit from behind often suffer a sudden jolt to their neck. The neck is very fragile. Even a low-speed impact can cause a whiplash injury.
Minor fender benders or even incidents that involve sudden stops but no impact can place acute pressure on the necks of occupants. Take a situation where you are driving at 50 mph. A driver emerges unexpectedly from a side road in front of you. You slam on the brakes. You stop inches away from the car in front of you. However, the sudden deceleration caused your head to be jerked backward and forward. Later, you start to feel the symptoms of whiplash.
In this case, the driver who slammed on the brakes and any passengers who suffered whiplash might have grounds to file a claim against the driver who pulled out in front of them.
Whiplash is also associated with low-speed accidents. These accidents typically occur at 15 miles-per-hour or less and entail minimal or non-existent property damage. Insurance companies often dismiss low-speed accidents as inconsequential.
Common Signs and Symptoms of a Whiplash Injury
The most common symptoms of whiplash include stiffness, neck pain, and headaches. Most people with whiplash make a full recovery in a matter of weeks by following a treatment plan that includes medication to treat the pain and exercise. Some people experience chronic neck pain and other ongoing problems.
Whiplash symptoms usually set in more than 24 hours after a car, truck, or motorcycle accident. Look out for:
- Stiffness and pain in the neck;
- Increased fatigue;
- Sharp pain associated with neck movement;
- Loss of range of neck motion;
- Shoulder pains or tenderness in the upper back or arms;
- Headaches emanating from the base of the skull
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
According to the Mayo Clinic, other less common symptoms of whiplash injuries include.
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Blurred vision;
- Poor sleep;
- Anger and irritability
- Memory issues;
- Concentration problems;
- Depression and anxiety.
How Are Whiplash Injuries Diagnosed?
Many people who suffer whiplash injuries fail to get a proper diagnosis. They may not realize a car accident caused what they are going through because there was no property damage.
People who believe they suffered whiplash injuries after a car wreck in Maryland should undergo a complete medical history and a physical exam states Johns Hopkins Medicine. Health professionals will usually carry out the following tests.
- X-Ray – When a patient undergoes an X-ray, electromagnetic energy beams provide images of bones, internal tissues, and organs onto film. An X-ray may fail to diagnose whiplash which is a more subtle injury than a broken bone.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Magnetic technology is used to produce detailed images of soft tissues and organs onto a computer screen.
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan – CT scans use X-rays and computer technology to compile horizontal images known as slices of the patient’s body. A CT scan gives a very detailed picture including muscles, bones, fat, and organs.
What to Do After Suffering Whiplash in a Car Accident with No Damage in Maryland
If your head jerked back and forward violently during a car crash you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible. The lack of damage to the car or the speed of the accident should not be the deciding factor.
If you don’t feel symptoms from the outset but experience headaches, stiffness, numbness or other signs of whiplash after 24 hours, seek medical attention. Often insurance companies try to penalize motorists who delayed treatment or claim that their injuries were not serious.
Will the Lack of Vehicle Damage Impact My Maryland Whiplash Injury Claim?
Insurance companies may use the lack of damage in a car wreck to argue your injuries were not serious. The insurer typically points out forces that were not strong enough to damage a bumper could not have caused lasting injury to your neck. However, the human body is built differently from an automobile. The best indicator of your likely payout in a whiplash case is the extent of your injuries and how they will affect your life.
Recent studies suggest whiplash is more serious than previously thought. While the link between whiplash and damage to the cervical spine is well established, recent research links whiplash to brain injuries. One study that examined the MRI scans of 1,200 neck pain patients, found brain injury occurred in 23 percent of the cases studied.
People who suffer whiplash are more likely to experience anatomical changes to the brain called Chiari malformation in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal.
This condition goes undiagnosed in many motorists who suffer from whiplash. The research suggests whiplash suffered after a car accident in Maryland or elsewhere may be more serious than previously thought.
Doctors really don’t understand enough about spinal injuries to know why serious injuries can result from relatively low-speed car accidents that cause little damage. In these cases, it’s important for our Maryland injury lawyers to build up evidence of a serious injury and to prove the culpable driver caused it, even if the wreck occurred at a low speed and left little or no property damage.
Call Baltimore, MD Whiplash Injury Lawyer Randolph Rice Today
Clients who contact us after suffering from whiplash injuries are often exasperated. A driver hurt them in a low impact collision and little property damage was reported. However, their injuries are at odds with the accident details. They suffer severe pain, ongoing headaches, fatigue, and dizziness and can’t sleep. The other driver’s insurance company is not receptive to their concerns or has offered a pathetically low figure to settle the case. The accidents victims feel their symptoms warrant more.
Often, they have missed time from work or school. They have numerous medical appointments, medical bills, and their symptoms are not getting better any time soon. Please contact a Baltimore personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Randolph Rice if you have suffered whiplash, even if the car accident involved little damage. Call us as soon as possible for a free consultation at (410) 694-7291.