How Can I Prove a Car Accident Gave Me Whiplash?


Although whiplash injuries are common in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions, proving that you have it is not all that easy. These injuries account for more than 30 percent of car accident trauma in the United States, yet the path toward establishing proof can be difficult. Whiplash is when the neck experiences a rapid and forceful back-and-forth motion that can be compared to a cracking whip. It creates small, soft tissue tears in the neck’s tendons and muscles, which weakens the supporting structures. Survivors can experience sprains and strains in the neck, shoulders, back, and arms.

Why Is it So Hard to Prove a Whiplash Injury?

Since whiplash affects soft tissues inside the body, it does not usually appear on MRIs or X-rays. These imaging techniques are used to find bone fractures and other kinds of injuries, so it is not possible to prove that a whiplash injury exists through medical imaging. Besides that, whiplash injuries are common after car accidents, and insurance companies may think that the claimant is faking it. Everyone has seen TV shows and movies with people pretending that they have whiplash to make insurance claims or win lawsuits. 

Fortunately, most whiplash injuries can be treated with neck collars and over-the-counter medications. The average recovery time can be about three months or so, but this is not true in all cases. These individuals are sometimes unable to return to work; approximately seven percent can never go back to work, and others miss an average of eight weeks or so. Out of the three million whiplash cases reported in the United States each year, about 50 percent of patients develop ongoing, chronic symptoms that they have to live with.

The fact that so many whiplash injuries are minor is another reason why serious injuries are so hard to prove. Insurance companies are in business to protect their own interests, and if they see that a claimant is experiencing vague symptoms without medical images, they are likely to deny the claim. Anyone who ends up with whiplash after a car accident will likely be challenged when they are seeking benefits to pay their medical bills and other damages.

Do I Have Whiplash Symptoms?

If you were rear-ended in a car accident, there is a 30 percent change that you have a whiplash injury. Other kinds of collisions will also cause it, especially if any of the vehicles involved were moving at high speeds when the accident happened. The faster the vehicles were going, the higher the risks are for serious injuries. Whiplash can be anywhere from minor to very serious. On the lesser side, it could get better in a few days or weeks. In the worst-case scenarios, survivors require ongoing, carefully managed treatment and medical supervision for several months. 

The symptoms of whiplash vary and can include:

  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain or tingling in the neck, jaw, upper or lower back, or arms; can worsen when the neck is moved
  • Stiff muscles and joints in the neck and shoulders, with a loss of range of motion
  • Problems sleeping
  • Ringing ears
  • Headaches close to the bottom of the skull
  • Dizziness and/or a loss of balance

Whiplash can also cause concussions and is associated with traumatic brain injuries because when the neck snaps so suddenly, the brain also moves and can collide with the skull. People who have traumatic brain injuries related to whiplash can experience long-term cognitive deficits that can impact their problem-solving abilities, attention spans, memory functions, planning capabilities, and abstract reasoning. Other survivors end up with bulging or herniated disks, long-term inflammation, and facet joint injuries.

These patients can also have problems concentrating, difficulty remembering things, and feel irritable or depressed much of the time. Many of these problems are often attributed to other causes such as anxiety following the accident, but putting off going to the doctor is not recommended. Like other car accident-related injuries, whiplash is not always detectable immediately after a collision and can worsen with time if not treated. Besides that, if you refuse to get a physician’s evaluation, the insurance company may claim that your injuries were not severe enough to warrant immediate medical care.

How Do I Deal with a Whiplash Injury?

If you suspect a whiplash injury following an accident, you can try icing the area until you can see a doctor. After you are evaluated, the doctor might prescribe painkillers, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. You may also need to wear that familiar cervical collar for a few weeks; these medical devices help support the neck as the muscles and ligaments heal. The doctor may also recommend using heat to relieve the pain and tension, ultrasound therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, or steroid injections.

It is hard to predict long-term outcomes with whiplash injuries because every injury is different and some people take longer to heal than others, particularly if they have underlying medical conditions. Those who experience an immediate onset of severe pain at the accident scene, pain radiating into the arms, and/or severe headaches may take months and even years to recover from chronic pain.

How Can I Prove that I Have a Whiplash Injury?

The auto insurance provider processing your injury claim will want to know if you sought medical attention, and how quickly you attempted to do so. Again, getting checked out as soon as you can after an accident is essential. This documentation can support a whiplash claim, so hold on to those medical records for later use. It is also important to follow the physician’s orders, since this helps show that you are taking the injury seriously and doing whatever you can to heal quickly.

Since certain kinds of car accidents are more likely to cause whiplash injuries, you will want a copy of the police report as well. People in car accidents who take pictures of the wreck plus the locations of the vehicles, weather conditions, skid marks, and anything else that indicates what happened are doing themselves a favor. This kind of information can help prove the type of injury you suffered, as well as liability of a negligent party.

Of course, it may not be possible to take pictures right after a car accident if you are injured. Passengers in your car may be able to help; otherwise, you may need to hire a car accident lawyer to step in. They can learn more about the crash and accident scene by using professional investigators and contacting any witnesses who may have been at the scene when the accident occurred. An experienced lawyer can also bring in experts who can provide testimony to help establish the cause of the accident.

Making a Whiplash Injury Claim

In the state of Maryland, you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit; the process begins by filing a claim with the car insurance company. At no time should you admit any fault for the accident because this can impact their decisions. They will investigate the claim and eventually inform you about the outcome. There may be issues that prevent you from getting your compensation in a timely manner or at all, and this is when you may need to reach out for help.

As with other personal injury cases, after liability is established, your claim’s value depends on the severity of your injuries. Insurers and courts of law will look at your medical expenses and possible costs for future medical care, rehabilitation, and prescription medication. Other factors to be considered include property damage, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Prove Whiplash Injury Claims

If you have whiplash or any other type of injury directly related to a recent car accident, reach out to the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our experienced legal team can help to hold liable parties accountable for injuries and damages. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.