When Car Accidents Cause Whiplash
During a car accident, if the force of impact causes one of the occupants’ heads to involuntarily thrust in one direction before being pulled back in the other, they may experience a range of Whiplash-Associated Disorders. This variety of neck injuries involves damage to the neck’s soft tissues, which can cause pain varying from mild to severe.
The symptoms of whiplash can take years to develop, and can lead to chronic, long-term pains. People who’ve sustained whiplash in an automobile collision may not feel the full severity of their symptoms until well after their accidents. However, failing to seek proper medical attention following a car accident may lead to complications in the recovery process, and may result in lingering pains. According to Chiropractic Nova Scotia, nearly half of all accident victims who suffer from whiplash report continuing to experience symptoms two years after their incidents.
Often the result of side-impact or rear-end car accidents, whiplash can have a dramatic effect on a person’s life. Even if the collision didn’t cause much vehicle damage or appear to be that severe at first, the velocity of a vehicle’s impact and the movement of individual muscles may cause serious health problems down the road, both physical and mental. If these medical issues affect a person’s ability to earn a living, whiplash from a car accident can lead to significant financial losses.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of whiplash after being involved in a motor vehicle collision, a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover damages for costs you incurred as a result of your injuries.
Common Symptoms of Whiplash
In the moments immediately following a collision with another vehicle, a driver or passenger may experience shock, producing adrenaline that could delay or diminish pains from resulting injuries, including whiplash. Seeking immediate medical attention after involvement in a car accident may help victims properly assess the scope of their injuries, and might prevent future complications in their recovery processes.
The majority of people who’ve sustained whiplash injuries as the result of a car accident experience serious neck pains between two hours to two days after their collision. This occurs when neck muscles tighten in order to respond to tears or ligament damage. Victims may experience a limited range of motion in the neck in addition to intense pains.
Many people suffering from whiplash also report experiencing headaches to various degrees of severity, duration, and localization. Often, headaches caused by whiplash can be felt behind the eyes. Accident survivors who have sustained whiplash may also suffer from shoulder pains, radiating down from their necks into their shoulder blades, and torn muscles that can cause burning, tingling, or prickling sensations.
Other common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Stiffness in the back and neck
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in extremities (arms, hands, legs, and feet)
- Jaw pains
- Mood swings, irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- And more
When whiplash goes untreated, symptoms can worsen over time. If symptoms persist, they may even impede a person’s ability to perform routine activities, including the duties of their jobs.
Can Whiplash Cause Depression?
For car accident survivors suffering from physical symptoms of whiplash, the road to recovery can be a long one. When chronic pain leads to an inability to work for a lengthy period of time, the isolation of recovery combined with the pervasive symptoms of injuries can lead to secondary disabilities in the form of serious mental health conditions, such as depression.
In a study conducted by the Institute for Work and Health, thousands of car accident survivors with no previous history of depression were surveyed about their experience with whiplash. Only six weeks after their injury-causing accidents, almost half of the research study’s participants showed signs of depression. Over the year that followed, even more of the study’s participants also developed symptoms of this serious medical condition. Depression stemming from whiplash injuries can be pervasive, especially if the victim had a history of mental health issues before their accident.
Also referred to as clinical depression and major depressive disorder, depression is a very real, very serious mood disorder. Depression may require long-term treatment, including medication, psychotherapy, or both. Some common symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings sadness, anxiety, and emptiness
- Irritability, restlessness, frustration, and drastic changes in mood
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Lack of energy, extreme fatigue
- Sleep disturbances (eg. insomnia, over-sleeping)
- Increased food cravings and weight gain, or reduced appetite and weight loss
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Difficulty focusing, making decisions, and remembering
- Physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (eg. headaches, backaches, digestive disorders)
- Suicidal thoughts, or attempts
- And more
Depression is a real illness, and should be treated as such. If whiplash from a car accident leads to a secondary disabling condition, like depression, injured victims may need to take time away from their workplaces to focus on their recovery. In these cases, whiplash– which may have initially appeared to be a minor physical injury– could cause car accident survivors to endure extended periods of emotional distress, and financial uncertainty.
Nova Scotia’s Minor Injury Cap
In Nova Scotia, despite the potential severity of whiplash, certain degrees of Whiplash-Associated Disorders are considered “minor injuries.” The province’s Minor Injury Cap imposes a limit on the amount of money an accident victim can collect for pain and suffering caused by minor injuries, including sprains, strains, and low-grade forms of whiplash.
Patients diagnosed with whiplash are often graded on a scale measuring their symptoms’ severity. Unless accident victims’ whiplash symptoms include fractures or neurological signs of injury, the amount of damages they may be entitled to recover for pain and suffering caused by their Whiplash-Associated Disorder may be subject to the limitations of the province’s Minor Injury Cap.
While the Nova Scotia Insurance Act regulates the amount of compensation a car accident victim can collect for pain and suffering after a collision causing minor injuries, there is no limit to the amount they can seek for other financial damages. With the help of a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer, eligible victims may be able to pursue damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- And possibly more
How Preszler Injury Lawyers Might Be Able to Help
Although symptoms of whiplash can be severe, and can impact the rest of an accident victim’s life, these symptoms are often difficult to prove. It may be difficult to objectively measure the degree to which whiplash symptoms affect a victim’s life. With the assistance of a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer, those suffering from whiplash can compile and present thorough medical evidence to substantiate their claims, in an attempt to recover the compensation they’re fairly owed.
If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, and are experiencing symptoms of whiplash, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.