Whiplash Injury Compensation in California
One of the most widely known car accident injuries is “whiplash.” You’ve probably heard that term many times throughout your life pertaining to vehicle accidents, traumatic experiences, or roller coasters—so what is it? Most drivers have the basic knowledge that whiplash is some form of neck injury caused by a sudden movement, but not everyone understands the impact it can have on someone’s life.
If you or a loved one has been in a vehicle accident and starts to feel sore, get checked by a doctor as soon as possible. If there is any sign of whiplash, contact a car accident lawyer for information on how to recover compensation.
What Is Whiplash?
Specifically, whiplash occurs when the neck experiences a violent back-and-forth motion during an impact. Depending on the force of the crash, this can strain the muscles and ligaments in the neck, damage surrounding nerves, and even cause injuries to the spinal cord.
Although whiplash can happen from falls and other sports accidents, it is most commonly the result of a car accident. Rear-end collisions are the primary causes of whiplash injuries because they cause a sudden jerk of the head. Other types of traffic accidents can also cause this injury but are not as common.
Whiplash is a difficult injury to sustain because it does not immediately present itself. Some car accident victims won’t feel sore until days after the initial accident. Below are some of the symptoms that may be indicative of a whiplash injury:
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Muscle spasms in the injured areas
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Stiffness/pain in the neck region
- Tenderness/pain in the shoulder region
- Swelling in the neck or shoulders
- Numbness in the arms
In severe cases, whiplash may cause ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and psychological/mental changes.
Whiplash is often tied to many other car accident injuries and may cause serious problems if left untreated for a long period of time. Even if it feels like a minor injury, it’s good to get it checked out by a medical professional. If unchecked, whiplash can contribute to spinal misalignment, degenerative disc disease, and other spine issues.
Recovering Benefits for Whiplash Injuries
A settlement for whiplash after a car accident poses unique challenges for the plaintiff. When dealing with a severe whiplash injury, there are immediate and prolonged medical issues for victims. Depending on the extent of damage to the soft tissue and ligaments in the neck, a victim’s mobility may be limited and they may endure constant pain.
When dealing with less severe whiplash injuries, however, the process is not so simple. Whiplash injuries may take a little while to present, and will likely heal over time. This means there is a small window of time in which the plaintiff and legal teams may be able to prove that the injury warrants compensation of some kind. For this reason, it’s important to document your symptoms and communicate frequently with a doctor. Having a record of your injury’s progression will be imperative to recovering a settlement.
Short-Term Effects of Whiplash
If you are in a mild rear-end accident and the only injury you sustain is whiplash, it can be difficult to pursue damages—but not impossible. If the pain from your injury results in serious discomfort, requires treatment, or causes you to miss work, you may still be eligible for benefits.
The most common symptoms of whiplash are headaches and general soreness in the neck region. Strain to the ligaments and soft tissue can reduce your range of motion and make it more difficult to perform daily activities. It may be hard to sleep or focus on work tasks.
Even though these symptoms can clear up within a few weeks or months, they may come at an important time in your life. If the injuries cause significant suffering or loss of quality of life, you should contact an attorney to take legal action.
Long-Term Effects of Whiplash
The majority of whiplash injuries are from mild rear-end accidents. Symptoms for these injuries can clear up within a week and have no long-term effects on the injured party. Even severe whiplash injuries can often be fully healed in a few months with the proper treatment.
The most catastrophic whiplash injuries may deal lasting damage to other parts of the body. If you have a neck injury that lingers for more than the expected time for whiplash, you may be dealing with something more.
Injuries to the cervical spine or intervertebral joints can be misinterpreted as whiplash at first and lead to serious issues. Do not assume that your symptoms are confined to neck injuries that will heal over time.
As long as you are not seeing positive results in your whiplash symptoms, you should continue to seek treatment. This will help your physical health and help you recover compensation in the event of a more serious claim. The indication that you were consistently seeking treatment shows your concern and suffering. This is especially important if you feel constant tingling or numbness, as these symptoms can persist indefinitely.
For this reason, the most serious whiplash injuries are those which also cause damage to the spinal cord or other nerves.
Whiplash and Nerve Damage Compensation
Whiplash injuries that lead to nerve damage may require a legal team with additional experience. Here at Chain | Cohn | Clark, we have connections with medical experts in the area who can help us understand the extent of your injuries.
If you suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) along with your whiplash injury, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Treatment for brain injuries in California is both intense and expensive, so you should make sure your legal team is up to the challenge.
California Whiplash Settlements FAQ
Can you sue for whiplash?
Even if whiplash is the only injury sustained in a car accident, you may still be able to file a car accident lawsuit for compensation. Whether or not you will receive a settlement depends on the extent of your injury and your ability to prove the other driver was at fault.
While you may only receive a minor whiplash settlement because this injury is typically not that expensive to treat, it may go a long way toward covering medical debts that would continue to accrue interest if not addressed immediately.
How is whiplash treated?
Mild to moderate whiplash can be treated at home with ice packs and pain medications that you can purchase over the counter. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should still visit your doctor to affirm your suspicions. Schedule a follow-up if your injuries do not appear to be improving over time.
Severe whiplash injuries, on the other hand, will require professional treatment. Without prescription medication, physical therapy, and muscle relaxants, you run the risk of long-term neck pain, limited mobility, and further injury in the neck and shoulder regions.
Compensation for whiplash injuries is meant to reduce the impacts of an injury on the victim’s life moving forward. This may mean restoring mobility and reducing pain with months—or even years—of careful treatment.
How much is a whiplash claim worth?
Depending on the severity of your injuries, whiplash costs can range from a few thousand to more than a hundred thousand dollars. An individual may need months of physical therapy that total tens of thousands of dollars. If the injured party sustains nerve or spinal damage, they may be looking at lifelong disabilities. The longer the duration of whiplash symptoms, the more money a victim will be able to recover.
Minor whiplash settlements may cover a few trips to the doctor and any vehicle repairs. Depending on the pain or discomfort caused by the injury, the plaintiff may also be able to recover lost wages for any time they take off work.
How long does a whiplash claim take?
The timeline for a whiplash injury lawsuit will depend on the specific details of the case. The amount of money involved typically correlates with the length of the process. Severe injuries usually mean more money, which also means the case will take longer. Minor whiplash injury claims that do not require significant compensation or extensive treatment may be settled in a fraction of the time.
Regardless of the complexity of your case, remember to take action quickly. The longer you wait, the less insurance companies will think you care. You may also miss the legal window set by the California statute of limitations on injury lawsuits.
Whiplash Injury Lawsuits in California
Whether you are filing a car accident or personal injury claim for whiplash injuries, the experienced attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you recover an adequate settlement to get your life back on track. Our experience with car accident injuries improves our ability to recognize a strong case.
If you are unsure whether or not you are entitled to compensation, call our firm for a free case evaluation. We can advise you on the proper next steps and, if necessary, help you prove the other party was at fault.
If we take your case, we will work on a contingency basis. This means we only get paid a percentage of the money you win, so if you don’t win, we don’t charge you. This lowers the initial risk for you and heightens the incentive for us to recover a full and fair settlement.
If you were recently in a car accident (or personal injury accident) and begin feeling the symptoms of whiplash, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney. You never know just how serious your injuries might be, and there’s no reason to take chances on your quality of life.