How to seek treatment for whiplash and other neck injuries in Georgia
Whiplash and neck injuries are the most common injuries suffered in car accidents. In addition, these types of injuries are sometimes difficult to diagnose and could lead to lifelong discomfort, even if the accident that caused them was minor.
Understanding what these injuries are, how they are caused and what lasting effects they may have can help you better deal with them.
What is whiplash and what are the symptoms?
One of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents is “whiplash,” which is caused by forceful, back-and-forth movements of the neck. It is named because the movement is similar to the cracking of a whip.
Some of the symptoms of whiplash include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches that often start at the base of the skull
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Memory problems
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Ringing in the ears
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
- Trouble sleeping
- Worsening of pain in the neck with movement
Other common crash-related neck injuries
Aside from whiplash, there are other neck injuries you could sustain during a car accident. They include the following.
You can suffer disc herniation, which is also caused by the whipping motion your neck makes in a car accident. The vertebrae in your spine are cushioned with disks that have a strong exterior but soft interior.
During an accident, the upper part of your spine may quickly jerk forward while your lower body remains secured by the seat belt. This can cause the soft interior of a disk to push through cracks in the exterior, pinching nerves in the spinal column. This can lead to numbness, tingling, pain in your arms or legs and weakness in your extremities.
Dislocated or fractured vertebrae
The same jerking movement that can cause a disk to be damaged can also pull the vertebrae apart or cause a fracture. When a vertebra is dislocated, the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together tear, allowing the bone to move.
A fracture-dislocation occurs when the vertebra is actually broken or crushed. It is possible to have a mild dislocation or fracture that has the same symptoms as whiplash or a herniated disk. However, if there is no treatment, bone fragments could enter the spinal column (which could cause paralysis that can be permanent).
It is not unusual for neck injury symptoms to be delayed. You may not notice there is a problem for several hours, days or even months after your accident. Unfortunately, delaying treatment could result in permanent damage or chronic pain. It may also be difficult to seek compensation for those injuries.
How are neck injuries treated?
If you suspect you suffered a neck injury in an accident, seek medical attention immediately. An examination by a doctor will reveal any injuries you sustained and provide you with medical documentation of those injuries.
Treatment for neck pain usually requires ice and rest along with over-the-counter medications, including ibuprofen or acetaminophen. A doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants if your injury is severe.
Can these car accident injuries become permanent?
A severe case of whiplash, herniated disc or fractured vertebrae can cause permanent injury, especially without medical treatment. Many people are unaware they have a herniated disk or fractured vertebrae immediately after the car accident and those types of injuries can lead to chronic pain.
Even if there is no additional damage, people who have been in a car accident and suffered a neck injury sometimes suffer pain for the rest of their lives. Neck pain is one of the most difficult to treat and often one of the hardest to manage.
Can you file a claim for whiplash and neck injuries?
Because whiplash and other neck injuries are sometimes difficult to prove, many people feel they are unable to file claims to get compensation for their injury. This is why seeking medical attention immediately is so important.
In Georgia, you are able to file a personal injury claim if you suffer any neck injury in a car accident caused by someone else.
First, you will need to provide medical documentation that shows you were injured in the accident. Keep in mind that there is a 2-year statute of limitations from the date of the crash to file a claim in the state of Georgia. This means starting with the date of the accident, a lawsuit must be filed before the second-year anniversary of the crash.
What is the average settlement for a whiplash injury?
Each case is different and the amount you may be able to recover will depend on how severe your injury is. On average, a whiplash or neck injury could result in an award between $2,500 and $10,000, if your injury is mild or moderate.
If you suffer a severe injury that results in physical therapy or extensive treatments, the award could be much higher. A fractured vertebra or an injury that results in paralysis could mean a settlement of $100,000 or more.