Catastrophic Whiplash Injuries Result From Road Accidents

Catastrophic Whiplash Injuries

Severe Whiplash Injuries May Lead to Long-Term Complications


Whiplash results when the soft tissues—muscles and ligaments—in the neck extend beyond their typical range of motion. Whiplash is most commonly associated with rear-end auto collisions when a person’s head moves backward and then forward with sudden force. This type of injury is common in car accidents, sports injuries, cycling accidents or amusement park ride accidents.

Following an accident, the signs and symptoms of whiplash might be delayed or masked by a general feeling of unease. Symptoms of whiplash include headaches, back pain, neck stiffness, and shoulder pain. It is important to be examined by a medical professional if you notice any physical changes in the days and weeks following any accident. Many patients require pain medication, foam collars, and physical therapy.

The majority of whiplash patients improve within several weeks or months of the injury, but chronic stiffness and related disorders can persist for years. A study published in the medical journal Neurology found that almost 8 percent whiplash study participants were plagued by issues like pain and stiffness after one year. Failure to properly treat whiplash can lead to chronic pain, neurologic issues, and psychosocial symptoms including depression and anxiety.

Following any serious neck injury, victims should contact an experienced lawyer to investigate the cause. Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati, Ohio personal injury attorney, well-versed in the science and economic impact such an injury has on the victim’s life. 


What Causes Severe Whiplash Injuries?

Whiplash can result from any type of collision. Most injuries are linked to car accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), whiplash is more common than any other type of car accident injury in the United States.

Whiplash occurs when the head is jolted forward and then snaps back, or unnaturally rotates to the side. Sudden jerking movements damage the soft tendons, ligaments, and muscles in your neck as a result of being stretched beyond the typical range of motion. Whiplash is sometimes referred to as a cervical acceleration-deceleration injury (CAD).

The most common causes of whiplash are:

  • Auto Accidents
  • Contact sports such as football, lacrosse, and rugby
  • Amusement Park Rides
  • Horseback riding
  • Physical abuse
  • Cycling accidents
  • Falls in which the head jerks backward
  • Blows to the head with a heavy object

Minor Accidents Can Have Serious Consequences

It does not always require a big collision to cause an injury. A study published in European Spine Journal concluded that car accident whiplash injuries are possible at speeds as low as nine miles per hour (15 kilometers per hour). Individual injuries largely depend on the size of a passenger, the direction of impact and the position of an injured victim. Smaller passengers are much more likely to sustain a serious injury. A slight female will experience two to four times the head linear acceleration as a large male in the same accident.

Whiplash is common in car accident victims, and is often wrongly dismissed as a minor or self-repairing injury. If an accident victim does not receive proper treatment for a whiplash injury, they may risk serious complications in the future.


Signs & Symptoms of Whiplash Injuries

Many victims do not feel pain immediately after an accident because the adrenaline of the situation masks their discomfort. After a few hours or days, a victim may begin to notice whiplash symptoms that can include:

  • Neck pain—can range from mild to severe. It might be located in one spot or a general area. Usually pain from whiplash is caused by ligament or muscle strains, but can also be caused by damage to nerves, joints, or bones.
  • Pain radiating through the back and upper shoulders
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Headaches
  • Pain at the base of the skull
  • Tinnitus—ringing in the ears
  • Vertigo—feeling dizzy or faint
  • Neck instability—resulting from stretched or torn ligaments or fractures
  • Radiating tingling, weakness, or numbness—spinal nerve roots may become compressed or inflamed

The Long-Term Complications of Whiplash

Symptoms that last for over six months can be considered chronic whiplash. The discomfort and related disorders may lead to significant time away from work and a number of treatments with painkillers, muscle relaxants, physiotherapy, and nerve stimulation.

In the long term, severe whiplash injuries can lead to osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, neurological issues and emotional problems. Lingering issues are not uncommon, though many patients and doctors fail to see the connection between a past injury and chronic pain and headaches that continue for years after an accident.

The symptoms of chronic whiplash may include:

  • Back pain
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck or shoulders
  • Severe headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Jaw pain
  • Constant fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Depression or anxiety

Compensation for Victims of Whiplash Injuries

Because whiplash is a soft tissue injury, it may be difficult to detect in diagnostic tests. Insurance companies may dismiss claims and deny coverage to injury victims. Also because of its often slow onset, many people don’t realize that they need or are eligible for compensation after suffering whiplash injuries. As an injury progresses, the small injury can have long-term effects that requires treatment.

If you suspect you may have whiplash after an accident, visit a medical professional and contact an experienced attorney to determine whether you are eligible for compensation to recover medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering damages.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious neck injury due to an accident, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.

Contact us today.