Whiplash: Symptoms and Causes

car accident in side mirror

One of the most common injuries suffered in a car accident is whiplash. While whiplash may sound like a single injury on its own, there are actually a number of whiplash injuries an individual may suffer. This article discusses the basics with regards to symptoms and causes of whiplash injuries in car accidents.

According to the Mayo Clinic [Whiplash – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic] whiplash is defined as a “neck injury due to forceful, rapid back and forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip.”  It is not limited to car accident injuries but is a common result of sports accidents, physical abuse and traumas linked to falls. In car accidents, whiplash injuries are most common in rear end vehicle accidents. Such types of accidents cause vehicle occupants’ bodies to forcefully move forward while the head and neck are forced backward. It must be noted though that in recent years the term whiplash has been linked to an exaggeration or fake personal injury claim. As a result, most personal injury attorneys avoid using the term whiplash. The more technical terms that are now used for whiplash-type injuries are hyperflexion or hyperextension injury, neck sprain or strain, or myofascial injuries. However, speak to Bakersfield auto accident lawyers to discuss further your whiplash-type injuries.

Whiplash is generally caused by vehicle occupants being unprepared for the impact an accident will have. It has been noted above the most common cause of whiplash injuries in car accidents are rear-end accidents, however, other vehicle accidents which do not involve rear-end forces may still result in whiplash.

There is generally a misconception that whiplash is only the result of a high-speed accident, however, even an accident caused by low speeds and with low impacts may result in whiplash injuries. A number of factors affect whether or not an occupant will suffer whiplash injuries; some of these factors include:

  • Whether or not the vehicle occupant was wearing a seatbelt
  • The manner in which the vehicle occupant was sitting
  • The vehicle occupant’s gender and height
  • Vehicle weight and size
  • Seat positioning

All these contribute to the chances and severity of whiplash injuries in vehicle occupants involved in a car accident.

There is another common misconception of whiplash which says because it is a soft tissue injury, it’s just a minor injury and cannot be serious. The reality is that soft tissue injuries can be serious and if untreated may result in long-term effects to the sufferer. Such evidence is in accordance with medical studies; as such, it is of the utmost importance for whiplash sufferers to receive medical attention as soon as possible. Whiplash can cause spinal injuries as well as brain injuries.

Common whiplash injury symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Low range of motion
  • Stiffness and pain in the neck
  • Shoulder, back or arm pain
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Disturbances to sleeping patterns
  • Unusual sensations, including tingling in the arms, or burning or prickling sensations

It is important to note whiplash symptoms may not appear immediately after the vehicle accident but may take a number of days to manifest.

The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP is a full-service law firm serving Bakersfield, California and all of Kern County. Our firm is recognized as a leader in the community, and we offer and extensive and wide variety of legal services including, but not limited to water law, personal injury, business law, employment and labor law, estate planning, real estate, and much more. Please reach out today to talk to a member of our team.