Whiplash is one of the most common types of injuries suffered by motor vehicle accident victims. Whiplash injuries are usually caused by rear-end collisions, as the force of the crash can cause the head and neck of the occupants of the vehicle that is rear-ended to violently jerk or whip back and forth. Unfortunately, whiplash injuries are often discounted by insurance companies, since these injuries are not caused by physical damage that might be visible to the naked eye or on a radiological scan. Nevertheless, if you have suffered a whiplash injury in a car accident, you need to know what steps to take to make a claim for compensation.
What is Whiplash
Whiplash is an injury to the neck and upper back that occurs when the head and neck rapidly move back and forth or side to side, usually due to the force imparted on the body in an auto collision. Whiplash usually results in damage to the muscles, tendons, and spinal discs that can be tiny, and almost imperceptible on X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. Symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, and radiating into the arms and hands
- Lower back pain
- Neck stiffness
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and hands
- Headaches, dizziness, and/or vertigo
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Difficulty sleeping
Minor whiplash injuries usually require just rest, heat and cold compresses, and over-the-counter pain medication. But more serious injuries, which can cause symptoms lasting months or longer, may require more intensive treatment such as prescription pain medication, muscle relaxants, and physical therapy.
Steps to Take to Prepare a Whiplash Claim
After being in a vehicle accident, actions you should take to help bolster your claim for compensation for a whiplash injury include:
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident, especially if you begin to experience pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. A prompt diagnosis of whiplash will help strengthen your injury claim and ensure that you start treatment as early as possible, which may improve your prognosis
- Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment instructions and recommendations. If you delay or don’t follow through on recommended treatment, you might not only make your condition worse but you may also give the insurance company a basis to argue that you are not really injured.
- Keep copies of your medical records, bills, and invoices, along with bills and receipts for any other expenses you incur
Filing a Claim for Compensation with the Insurance Company
In Florida, you may be able to first obtain compensation for a whiplash injury by filing for personal injury protection coverage with your insurer, which is available regardless of fault for the accident. Once you have exhausted your PIP coverage, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against an at-fault driver or drivers to recover further compensation.
What Evidence Do You Need to Prove a Whiplash Claim?
Because insurance companies often view whiplash injury claims skeptically, it is necessary to have substantial evidence to prove your claim. Examples of persuasive evidence include:
- Diagnostic scans, if they show structural damage to the neck, spine, and surrounding tissues
- Medical records, including provider notes
- Expert medical testimony from your treating providers or expert witnesses who have examined you
- Your testimony and the testimony of your family members and co-workers as to the impairments and difficulties you experience due to your injury
Compensation Available for a Whiplash Injury
Compensation that may be obtained for a whiplash injury includes:
- Medical expenses, including doctor’s appointments, medical equipment, prescription drugs, and physical therapy
- Lost wages or income if you need to take time off work to recover
- Loss of future earning potential if you suffer long-term or permanent impairments due to your injury
- Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment and quality of life due to chronic pain or physical impairment
Contact a Lake Worth Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Auto Accident Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to an auto accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. represent clients injured because of auto accidents in Miramar, Coral Springs, Davie, Boca Raton, and throughout Florida. Call (561) 533-0345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 813 Lucerne Ave., Lake Worth, FL 33460, as well as offices in Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.