Whiplash Injuries: The Basics

Common symptoms and causes of whiplash, in car accidents and other kinds of injury cases. What Is Whiplash? The term “whiplash” is used to describe a range of neck injuries — particularly soft tissue damage to the neck — common in many rear-end car accidents. When a car is rear-ended, the impact propels the driver’s and passengers’ bodies forward while their heads stay in place, exposing the neck to sudden, extreme extension and flexion that follows a whip-like motion. So injuries to the neck that result from this extreme snapping or jerking are commonly called whiplash. Note: Personal injury attorneys avoid using the word “whiplash.” In recent years the word “whiplash” has come to be associated with fake or exaggerated personal injury claims — scaring up images of lawyers handing neck braces to clients before their court appearances. So it’s a good idea to avoid using the word in your personal injury action or insurance claim. Whiplash-type injuries are now commonly referred to by more technical names like hyperextension/hyperflexion injury, myofascial injury, neck sprain or strain, and cervical strain or sprain. Whiplash Causes Whiplash and neck injuries are commonly associated with rear-end car accidents, where the occupants of the front vehicle are unprepared for impact. But whiplash injuries can result from other types of incidents too, including: car and truck accidents that don’t involve rear-end impact contact sports like football, hockey, and soccer intentional assaults that produce head trauma (a hard shove from behind, for example) skiing and snowboarding accidents repetitive stress injuries at work child abuse (shaken baby syndrome, for example), and slip and fall accidents in stores and homes or on poorly-maintained sidewalks. A quick note on misconceptions about whiplash causes: It’s a common misconception that only high speed, serious collisions result in whiplash-type injuries. In actuality, whiplash is commonly caused by low speed, low impact, rear-end automobile collisions. The causes of whiplash are complex and relate to a range of factors beyond just the force of impact. These factors include the position of the driver or passenger’s head at the time of impact; the person’s seating position, height, and gender; the position of seat and head restraints; and the relative size and weight of the vehicles involved in the accident. Another misconception about whiplash is that, because it involves soft tissue, whiplash is minor and not all that serious of an injury. However, medical evidence suggests that soft tissue injuries can be serious and can have long-term effects if left untreated. This is why it’s important to be checked out by a doctor if you have been involved in any type of car accident. Whiplash Symptoms Whether they come about after a car accident or other type of mishap, signs of a whiplash or neck injury include: neck pain and stiffness decreased range of motion headache dizziness blurred vision shoulder, arm, or back pain unusual sensations (e.g., burning, prickling, tingling in arms) sleep disturbance, fatigue, or trouble concentrating, and other cognitive or psychological difficulties. Remember that it may take several days before whiplash symptoms appear. So, if you or a loved one has been in a car crash or other kind of accident, keep a close eye on possible signs of whiplash injury. Getting Help With Whiplash or Neck Injury Seek medical attention. First things first. Neck injuries can have serious consequences and lead to a wide range of health problems if left untreated, so seek medical attention following an accident. If you are sent home by your doctor or emergency room physician following the accident, seek immediate medical attention if you develop new symptoms or experience persistent whiplash symptoms. Prepare a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. If you are considering making a personal injury claim for your accident and whiplash injuries, it’s important that you be well-prepared. Keep a detailed record of the accident, your symptoms, and your medical treatment and expenses.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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