What to Do if You Suffer from Whiplash Symptoms After a Car Accident
Every year, 2.35 million people in the United States are injured or disabled in car accidents.
Unfortunately, not all of these people end up getting the compensation they deserve for the cost of their injuries. One reason for this is that, for many injuries, including whiplash, symptoms don’t show up right away.
By the time people realize they’ve been injured, they often feel like it’s too late to try and seek compensation.
If you’ve just started experiencing whiplash symptoms after a car accident, keep reading. We’re taking you through everything you should do to make sure your treatment is paid for.
What is Whiplash?
First things first, let’s go over what whiplash even is.
Whiplash is a common injury that occurs when your neck muscles are strained from a rapid backward and forward movement.
This sudden movement, which often happens after you’ve been rear-ended, often stretches and tears the tendons and ligaments in the neck.
Common Whiplash Symptoms
Whiplash symptoms often present themselves within 24 hours. However, sometimes they take a few days to show up.
The following are some of the most common symptoms:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Headaches at the base of your skull
- Blurred vision
Some other, less common (but still serious) whiplash symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Chronic neck or shoulder pain
In rare cases, people with whiplash will notice their pain or numbness in their arms. They may also find moving their head to be painful. In these instances, immediate medical care is necessary.
A doctor will diagnose whiplash by first asking some questions about your injury and the pain or other symptoms you’re experiencing.
They’ll likely do a physical exam as well to check your range of motion. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may also be used to help your doctor identify signs of whiplash. He or she will also use these tests to look for additional damage or inflammation.
Most people see their whiplash symptoms improve within a few weeks or months.
Occasionally, though, people with whiplash go on to experience chronic pain or headaches for years after their accident.
Whiplash Injury Claims
After you start experiencing whiplash symptoms, it can be difficult to get the compensation you need for your medical treatment.
These tips will help you get the help you deserve.
Seek Medical Treatment ASAP
As soon as you notice even the tiniest twinge of pain or discomfort make an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you get in for an examination, the sooner you’ll have evidence to support your claim.
Insurance adjusters are often suspicious of whiplash claims, especially since they don’t always come up immediately after an accident. However, if you have records from a physician proving you’ve been injured, you’re more likely to be successful.
Don’t Wait to File a Claim
Once your doctor has confirmed your injury, you need to start the claim process. Notify your insurance provider if you live in a no-fault state, or the provider of the at-fault driver’s insurance if your state allows lawsuits for personal injuries after an accident.
Make sure you notify the insurance company in writing of your injuries and your plan to file a claim.
The sooner you take these steps, the sooner you’re likely to be reimbursed for your medical expenses.
Document Your Expenses
Be sure to document all the money you spend along the way. Some expenses you’ll need to track include:
- Mileage to and from appointments
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Prescription costs
- Insurance co-pays
- Any other out-of-pocket costs related to your injury
Insurance adjusters will appreciate your thoroughness, and proper documentation can help speed up the reimbursement process.
Prepare for the Possibility of a Lawsuit
Sometimes, a lawsuit is necessary to get the money you’re owed. Maybe the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance. Or, maybe the insurance adjuster decides not to pay out your claim.
If either of these situations occurs, your next step will be to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact a local car accident lawyer as soon as possible for advice on how to proceed.
Choosing the Right Car Accident Lawyer
There are lots of lawyers out there, but they’re not all equally equipped to help you get reimbursed for the expenses related to your injury.
In order to get what you’re owed, it’s important to work with a qualified, experienced lawyer. Keep these tips in mind when making your decision.
Ask About Their Experience
First things first, find out which types of injuries each candidate has the most experience with.
Some lawyers work exclusively with car accident victims. Others focus on work-related accidents or slip-and-fall injuries.
Meet Before Making a Decision
Try to sit down in person with the lawyer you’re thinking about hiring before you make a final decision. You’ll be able to get a better idea of their temperament and whether or not you’re comfortable working with them.
If you can’t meet in person, at least try to speak to them on the phone.
Ask the Right Questions
During your meeting, be sure to ask the following questions. They’ll help you decide if a particular lawyer is right for your case:
- Where did you go to law school and when did you graduate?
- How long have you been practicing?
- What kinds of cases do you typically represent?
- How many cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
- What is your assessment of my case?
- What kind of settlement can I expect?
- Is a trial likely?
- How long do you think it’ll take to wrap up my case?
- What is the estimated cost of my case?
- Do I have to pay if we don’t get a settlement?
- Will you personally handle my case?
It might feel strange asking all these questions up front. But, remember that you’re hiring this person to represent you, and you have a right to answers before making a decision.
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