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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), neck sprains and strains, also known as whiplash, are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims.
Whiplash is most often associated with high speed rear end collisions. However, whiplash can occur during low speed car accidents or even from a hard smack on the back. Whiplash occurs when the head is whipped forward and back causing damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck.
Whiplash injuries can cause an unthinkable amount of pain and cost you a lot of money. Here are three things to know about whiplash injuries:
1. You're Not Feeling It Yet
After an accident, you may not feel the effects of whiplash right away. Sometimes adrenaline will kick in and you will feel perfectly fine. It could be hours, or even a day later, before you feel the symptoms of whiplash, which could include neck pain, stiffness, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, or shoulder, arm, or back pain.
If you're in a minor accident with no damage and no pain, you may be tempted to wave the other driver away without getting his information. Don't do this! You could have whiplash and not know it yet. You will then be left to foot the bill for your medical costs. Always get the other driver's name, phone number, address, and insurance information in case you start feeling the whiplash later on.
2. Go To A Specialist
Regardless of whether or not you feel pain in your neck after a car accident, it is wise to see a doctor right away. A back and neck expert, chiropractor, or other medical specialist may be more qualified than your general physician to diagnose whiplash. Have the doctor document the extent of your injury and treatment, if necessary. You will need this to prove your claim later on.
When you have had a prior whiplash injuries, insurance companies can be more reluctant to pay compensation, arguing that your whiplash injury is not new. However, you can still get compensation if the new accident aggravated a prior injury. It is especially important to have your doctor try to diagnose how much of your injury is attributable to the prior accident and how much is attributable to the new accident. This can be sometimes be very hard to prove, so your attorney may have to hire a medical expert to testify on your behalf.
3. Document All Expenses
To ensure that you get the best compensation for your whiplash injury, be sure to document all your expenses. These could include medical bills, lost wages, and insurance co-pays. You may even be entitled to pain and suffering damages.
Pain and suffering damages can often be calculated as anywhere between one and one half to four times your damages. For example, let's assume your damages equal $5,000 and your insurance company applies a multiplier of two to calculate your pain and suffering damages. This means you could get $10,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to the $5,000 for your medical bills and other expenses.
This is why it is so important for you to document any and all expenses that could have arisen from your whiplash injury.
If you've been involved in an accident and suffered a whiplash injury, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you make a claim.