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What Are the Permanent Effects of Whiplash in an Auto Accident?

Whiplash is the term commonly used to describe pain, stiffness, or an injury caused by people being moved rapidly back and forth in an auto accident. The term arose because bodies moving in a car as a result of a vehicle crash jerk back and forth, like a whip does when it’s cracking.

This can arise most commonly from the vehicle being rear-ended, where the body moves forward and then back. But it can also happen if a car is hit in front, when the body moves backward and then forward.

Whiplash Injuries

To consider whether whiplash has long-term effects, let’s look first at its initial effects.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries suffered in auto accidents. However, it is difficult to diagnose, because the damage is often done to soft tissues and does not show up on x-rays. Muscle strain, muscle tears, nerve damage, and damage to ligaments, tendons, and discs are all soft tissue injuries.

If an auto accident has broken your arm or sprained your ankle, you will have a clear diagnosis. But whiplash, though its effects may be painful and debilitating, has no similar clear diagnostic tool.

As a result, whiplash is often diagnosed from symptoms.

Whiplash symptoms can include the following:

  • Pain or weakness in arm
  • Pain in back
  • Pain and stiffness in neck area
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Visual impairments, such as dizziness
  • Sleep impairment
  • Anxiety

Long-Term Whiplash Injuries

The majority of whiplash symptoms resolve within a month or so. But some people suffer long-term damage. A Danish study, for example, found that people with stiffness or reduced movement in their neck were at relatively high risk for their symptoms to linger for a year.

Herniated disks caused by whiplash can also need long-term care.

Chronic headaches, chronic pain, fatigue, lower back pain and even memory problems can be caused by whiplash and last a significant period of time.

Because whiplash has such a range of symptoms and is relatively complicated to diagnose, it is important to seek medical attention after an auto accident, whether there are visible injuries or not. If you want to seek damages from a negligent party for medical care, lost wages, or physical therapy, it will be necessary to have evidence that a court will find persuasive. A doctor’s examination can provide evidence.

Contact a Whiplash Injury Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation

If you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of whiplash after an accident, call Edelman, Krasin & Jaye. We have had years of experience litigating vehicle collisions in New York state.

Our initial consultation is free; we will discuss your case and possible next steps. Call 1-800-469-7429 for a free consultation with an experienced New York City and Long Island auto accident lawyer today.

Additional resources on long-term effects of whiplash after a car accident:

  1. Wang, Jeffrey C. SpineUniverse. Spotlight on Back Pain. “Long-term Effects of Whiplash.” https://www.spineuniverse.com/blogs/wang/long-term-effects-whiplash
  2. Brain and Nervous System. News. “Whiplash: Predicting Long-Term Problems.” http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20010625/whiplash-predicting-long-term-problems#1