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Whiplash Injury Caused by A Car Accident

March 31, 2013

One of the most common injuries sustained in an auto accident is whiplash.

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash, which is not a medical term, describes a soft tissue injury where there is a sudden distortion of the neck. In medical terms, this is known as a cervical sprain or more specific to auto accidents, cervical acceleration-deceleration injury where the muscles, ligaments and tendons are overstretching due to the force of impact. The tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerve roots, etc. are known as soft tissue, hence the phrase "soft tissue injury."

How Long Does It Take for A Whiplash Injury to Heal?

It depends. Every whiplash injury is different. The severity of the accident needs to be taken into account along with many other factors. Some people involved in accidents will still be feeling the effects of the whiplash two years after the accident. Some will feel better in a matter of weeks. No two whiplash injuries are exactly alike.

If I Get Rear-Ended, What Is Going on In the Moments that I Am Hit?

The following provides an example of the occupant and seat interaction sequence for a collision lasting approximately 300 milliseconds: (From Wikipedia's Page on Whiplash)

0 Milliseconds

  • Rear car structure is impacted and begins to move forward and/or crushes

  • Occupant remains stationary

  • No occupant forces

100 Milliseconds

  • Vehicle seat accelerates and pushes into occupant’s torso (i.e. central portion of the body in contact with seat)

  • The torso loads the seat and is accelerated forward (seat will deflect rearward)

  • Head remains stationary due to inertia

150 Milliseconds

  • Torso is accelerated by the vehicle seat and may start to ramp up the seat

  • Lower neck is pulled forward by the accelerated torso/seat

  • The head rotates and extends rapidly rearward hyper-extending the neck

175 Milliseconds

  • Head is still moving backwards

  • Vehicle seat begins to spring forward

  • The torso continues to be accelerated forward

  • The head rotation rearward is increased and is fully extended.

300 Milliseconds

  • Head and torso are accelerated forward

  • Neck is “whipped” forward rotating and hyper-flexing the neck forward

  • The head accelerates due to neck motion and moves ahead of the seat back

If I Am Rear Ended and Feel Pain Should I Go See a Doctor?

Yes, and don’t wait for the pain to go away before you go. Often times therapy early on can prevent an injury from getting worse. After an accident, you should always get checked out by your doctor, especially if you are experiencing any kind of discomfort or pain.

If you have been rear-ended and you have questions about what to do next, contact an experienced injury lawyer. At the law office of Natalie Stuart, we can help you collect lost wages, mileage reimbursement, get your medical bills paid, and in some cases the insurance company will pay for someone else to do the household chores you are unable to do because of your injuries. We will also help you get a rental car while your vehicle is repaired or replaced.