Whiplash symptoms commonly occur due to rear-end accidents and frontal collisions. The sudden and violent movement of the head during a collision can lead to hyperextension (backward motion) followed by hyperflexion (forward motion) of the neck. This causes strain and injury to the soft tissues, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck.
Whiplash may not be life-threatening, but it can affect the quality of your life. The long-term impact of whiplash can also be painful and debilitating. If you're in the East Bay and you or a loved one sustained whiplash in a crash, the car accident attorneys at Clancy & Diaz, LLP can fight to make you whole again.
What are common whiplash symptoms?
Symptoms of whiplash can vary in severity and may not always appear immediately after the accident. They typically include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Limited range of motion
- Shoulder pain
- Back pain
- Tingling or numbness in the arms or hands
While less common, some cases of whiplash can include symptoms such as:
- Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) due to muscle spasms or other issues in the throat area.
- Voice changes as a result of damage or irritation to the vocal cords or surrounding structures.
- Jaw pain or TMJ disorders, including jaw clicking or popping in the jaw or difficulty opening and closing the mouth.
- Heart palpitations in extremely rare cases.
How long does it take for whiplash symptoms to appear after a car accident?
Whiplash symptoms can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience symptoms almost immediately after the accident, others may not notice any discomfort until several hours or even a day or two later. In some cases, it can take several days for whiplash symptoms to fully manifest.
Here's what to expect from a whiplash injury:
- Immediate symptoms: You may feel neck pain, stiffness, or discomfort immediately after a car accident. This immediate onset of symptoms can occur if the injury is severe or if the adrenaline rush from the accident temporarily masks the pain.
- Delayed onset: Whiplash symptoms often have a delayed onset. This means they may not become apparent for several hours or even days after a collision. This delay can be due to various factors, including the body's natural response to injury and inflammation.
- Gradual worsening: In some cases, the initial symptoms may be relatively mild but gradually worsen over the following days. This can be especially common when inflammation and muscle tension increase after a collision.
Diagnosing whiplash after a car accident
If you sustained whiplash from a car accident, getting a medical evaluation as soon as possible is important. Whiplash is usually diagnosed through a physical examination. A doctor will assess your neck mobility and pain levels. Plus, they may use imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI to rule out more severe injuries.
Treatment for whiplash after a car accident
Treatment for whiplash typically involves conservative measures to reduce pain and promote healing. Common treatments may include:
- Rest and activity modification.
- Applying ice or heat
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers
- Physical therapy
- Neck braces or collars for support.
- Alternative treatments such as chiropractic care and acupuncture.
How long does it take to recover from whiplash?
Much like symptoms, the recovery time for whiplash can vary from person to person. It often depends on the severity of the injury, your overall health, and the effectiveness of treatment.
People with mild whiplash injuries may experience relief from their symptoms within a few weeks, especially with proper rest and self-care. For those with moderate whiplash injuries, recovery typically takes several weeks to a few months. Physical therapy and exercises can help speed up the healing process.
However, for some individuals, recovery may take longer. Severe cases of whiplash, involving more significant soft tissue damage or complications, may take several months to recover. Some individuals may continue to experience symptoms for six months or longer. In rare cases, whiplash symptoms can become chronic, requiring ongoing treatment and management.
How can I file a car accident claim if I sustained whiplash?
In California, you have two years from the date of your crash to file a car accident claim. However, it's crucial to take action as soon as possible. One important step is to avoid speaking to the at-fault driver's insurance company without proper legal representation. Anything you say during those conversations can be used by insurance companies to downplay your injuries or even deny your claim.
Protect your rights and seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney who can help you demand the compensation you deserve for your whiplash injury. To get started, consult an attorney at Clancy & Diaz, LLP.
We can launch a prompt and thorough investigation into your crash and find the facts that matter to your claim. Plus, we can determine the value of your claim and fight to maximize your whiplash settlement amount.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Proudly serving clients throughout the East Bay, we have offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and Pittsburg.