How Long Do the Symptoms of Whiplash Last After a Car Accident?
Whiplash is a typical injury associated with car accidents. Whiplash can be caused by very serious accidents or minor fender benders. Symptoms from whiplash can be very painful or even debilitating in severe cases. How people experience whiplash is unique to the person, and how long your symptoms last can be unpredictable.
Whiplash symptoms may alleviate in a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years. Some people suffer long-term chronic pain after a car accident. Once you begin to experience whiplash symptoms, you must see a doctor and continue seeing doctors for as long as your symptoms persist. Your symptoms might change as time goes on. The more painful your symptoms and the longer they last, the more damages you can typically claim in a lawsuit against another driver.
If you were injured in a car accident, you might experience whiplash symptoms for a relatively short or long time. Each case is unique, and it is not easy to predict how long your symptoms will persist. Our Boston car accident attorneys can help you assess your symptoms and calculate damages. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 993-0198 to discuss your case in a free legal consultation.
When Does Whiplash Happen and How Long Can it Last?
Whiplash is a fairly common injury associated with car accidents. The injury occurs when a person’s head is very quickly and forcefully thrown backward, forward, or sideways. A car accident does not have to be very serious for a person to experience whiplash. Symptoms of whiplash are not often present immediately after the accident. Sometimes, people choose to forgo medical treatment because they believe they are unharmed, but they later experience pain from whiplash.
The duration of your whiplash symptoms will depend on how badly you were injured. Some people begin to feel better in a few days. Other people take weeks, months, or even years to fully recover. If your car was struck particularly hard, your whiplash symptoms could last a bit longer. However, the severity and duration of symptoms will vary from person to person. You could experience severe whiplash pain while your passenger is perfectly fine.
Keep an eye out for whiplash pain shortly after the accident. It may take a few hours or a day or two for symptoms to appear. If you begin to experience pain, see a doctor immediately. It is crucial to your potential lawsuit to document your symptoms as much as possible. The longer your symptoms last, the greater your damages could be. Call our Malden car accident lawyers for help dealing with your case.
Symptoms of Whiplash After a Car Accident
Whiplash is often disregarded as a non-serious injury because it sometimes resolves itself over a brief period of time. The truth is that whiplash can last for a very long time, and many car accident victims live with symptoms of whiplash indefinitely or for the rest of their lives. Common symptoms of whiplash can be extremely painful and may include many of the following symptoms and conditions:
- Neck pain
- Worsening pain with head and neck movement
- Loss of range of neck motion
- Tingling and numbness
In addition to these more common symptoms, there are other, less common conditions that are often associated with whiplash, including the following:
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory issues
- Challenges focusing
- Blurred vision
In many cases, whiplash is a painful but temporary condition. In fact, whiplash tends to heal on its own as long as you get some rest and avoid strenuous activity. However, whiplash does not always go away easily, and many accident victims experience symptoms for lengthy periods of time, incur significant medical bills, and have trouble returning to work. Even if your symptoms resolve rather quickly, you can still claim damages for medical bills and your pain and suffering. The longer your symptoms persist, the greater your damages might be.
Factors That Might Increase or Decrease the Duration of Your Whiplash Symptoms After a Car Accident
Although whiplash is a somewhat common injury in car accident cases, it tends to affect people differently. Some people recover quickly, while others deal with pain much longer before improving. To help predict how long your whiplash symptoms might last, you should be aware of factors that might increase or decrease the duration of your condition. If you are experiencing whiplash, our car accident attorneys can help you sue the negligent driver who hit you.
Factors That Might Increase the Duration of Symptoms
Factors that might increase the duration include the force of impact, medical attention, and your prior health condition. Accidents with a much greater force of impact tend to cause more severe injuries, including whiplash. If the driver who hit you were going very fast, you would likely experience greater whiplash symptoms for longer.
After the accident, the speed and quality of your medical care significantly affect how long your symptoms last. If you wait to get medical attention, your whiplash injuries will likely heal more slowly. Additionally, the quality of your care might determine the duration of your symptoms. If your doctor dismisses your injuries as non-serious and gives you a few pain meds before sending you home, your condition might last longer.
Another important factor to consider is your health and physical well-being before the accident. If you were already experiencing neck and back problems before the accident, the whiplash might make those problems worse, and your condition might last much longer, possibly indefinitely.
Factors That Might Decrease the Duration of Symptoms
If you are afraid that your whiplash symptoms might be long-term, you can take steps to hopefully improve your conditions and speed up recovery. However, it should be noted that some conditions are out of your control and based more on luck or circumstance.
One of the most important things you can do to lessen whiplash symptoms and other injuries is to wear a seatbelt. When a driver is belted in, they are less likely to be violently thrown about the car, and whiplash injuries are often less severe. This also means that whiplash injuries heal faster because they are not as serious.
You can also work to decrease the time you spend dealing with whiplash by pursuing aggressive medical treatment. For many injured drivers, taking pain medication and resting are not enough to treat their injuries. Intense physical therapy and a pain management regimen might be necessary to treat whiplash symptoms effectively.
Another factor that may or may not be out of your control is being fit and healthy before the accident. If you were physically active, healthy, and fit before the accident, you will likely heal quicker, and your whiplash symptoms might not last very long.
Can Whiplash Injuries Cause Permanent Damage After a Car Accident?
In particularly severe cases, whiplash symptoms might last indefinitely or be permanent. This is sometimes hard to predict, as every case of whiplash is unique. However, if your accident was especially bad, you should speak with your doctor about possible long-term or permanent complications.
One of the most prominent symptoms of whiplash is pain. While the pain subsides for many, it might last much longer in others. If your whiplash injuries were severe, you might be left with a chronic pain condition for the rest of your life. Other potentially permanent symptoms include stiffness, limited mobility, and muscle weakness.
It is important to understand permanent whiplash injuries as they might significantly impact your damages in a lawsuit. Not only is a plaintiff with life-long whiplash complications likely to incur much greater medical bills over time, but they are also likely to experience greater pain and suffering, and their non-economic damages should be far greater. Our car accident lawyers can help you understand how your whiplash symptoms affect damages and advocate for the greatest compensation possible.
Can Symptoms of Whiplash Change Over Time?
Medical conditions and symptoms may vary greatly between patients. Even patients who experienced very similar car accidents may have wildly different cases of whiplash. In some cases, whiplash symptoms take longer to develop fully, and pain can become worse over time.
There are more symptoms of whiplash than just neck pain. Injured drivers may also experience headaches, limited range of motion when turning their heads, swelling, tenderness, numbness, back pain, vision problems, vertigo, dizziness, and more. Symptoms may take a day or two to appear and may change as you recover.
Symptoms might not all develop at once. You might notice some swelling in your neck and pain a day or two after your car accident. Later on, the pain could become much worse, and you might develop headaches or experience vertigo upon standing. While some of these symptoms do not require immediate medical attention, you should inform your doctor of all your symptoms. Regular doctor visits may be necessary to update your physician about your condition as you recover.
As your whiplash symptoms develop and change, you may find yourself more limited in certain aspects of your life. For example, you might have to take time off from work because you cannot drive due to a severely limited range of motion. Intense pain may make it difficult to do simple tasks like grocery shopping or taking your kids to school. Call our Somerville car accident attorney about your symptoms today. Our team can help you calculate the value of your damages.
How Long-Term Whiplash Symptoms Might Affect Your Life After a Car Accident
Whiplash symptoms can have a serious impact on your daily life, and this impact might be even greater the longer your symptoms persist. If your symptoms last for a long time, or your doctor believes they might last indefinitely, your damages in a lawsuit might be significant. Our car accident attorneys can help you assess your damages and help you get the most compensation possible.
The longer your symptoms last, the higher your medical bills will probably be. People suffering from long-term whiplash symptoms might need to see multiple doctors and specialists to determine the best treatment. In some cases, accident victims need surgery to treat their whiplash, and even then, the symptoms might not fully subside. Additional treatment like physical therapy and pain medication may add up over time, leaving you with extremely high medical bills.
In some cases, accident victims are so injured that they cannot return to work until their whiplash symptoms heal. This is especially important for people who perform physical labor as part of their job. The longer your whiplash symptoms persist, the more work you have to miss, and the more income you lose as a result. If you cannot return to your old job ever, and finding new work is difficult, our legal team can help you claim the value of lost income and future lost income as part of your damages.
We must also consider the impact of lifelong pain and emotional suffering associated with whiplash symptoms. Whiplash is very painful, even if it only lasts a little while. People living with pain from whiplash might experience psychological trauma, including depression, anxiety, and an overall loss of enjoyment in their lives. Our car accident attorneys can help you take these experiences into consideration when calculating your damages.
Should I Wait to File a Lawsuit for Damages Related to Whiplash Symptoms?
Since whiplash symptoms could potentially last for a long time, you might be thinking that waiting to file a lawsuit could work in your favor. by waiting, you will have a more accurate picture of how severe your injuries are, the costs of your medical care, and the impact your whiplash symptoms have had on your life. While this could be true, you also need to consider the statute of limitations on your case and whether there will be any evidence of your case later on.
Depending on what state you are in, the statute of limitations for a car accident case could be a few years. Many states impose limits of about 3 years, although some states have opted for longer statutes of limitations and others shorter. You should discuss whether waiting to sue is a good strategy for your case with our whiplash attorneys and make sure you do not allow the statute of limitations to run out.
You also need to consider the availability of evidence as time goes on. Some evidence, like your own medical records, will last indefinitely. Other evidence, like eyewitness testimony, may degrade over time. For example, an eyewitness will better recall the accident if you begin your lawsuit right away. If you wait 2 years, that same witness might have trouble remembering exactly what they saw.
How to Assess Damages for Whiplash After a Car Accident
Part of what makes assessing damages in car accident cases involving whiplash so difficult is that whiplash affects drivers differently, and pain is very subjective. In general, you can expect greater economic and non-economic damages if your whiplash injuries persist for a longer time. Our car accident lawyers can help you assess your damages and get you the compensation you deserve.
Perhaps the most significant source of economic damages in a car accident involving whiplash is medical expenses. Naturally, injured drivers will incur medical bills after seeking treatment for whiplash. For many, this is where medical costs end. For those suffering from long-term pain and complications, medical expenses might go on and on.
Your economic damages can include your past and future medical bills. Past damages include all the losses and costs you have incurred after the accident and before the trial. Future damages are losses we can reasonably anticipate after your trial.
If whiplash symptoms last for a long time, you will likely have greater medical expenses, both past and future. Plaintiffs living with long-term or permanent complications must deal with pain management, physical therapy, and expensive medications. If your whiplash symptoms are permanent, a lifetime of medical costs should be calculated and added to your overall economic damages.
Your non-economic damages might also drastically increase if your whiplash symptoms last indefinitely. Non-economic damages commonly include pain and suffering. This might cover physical and emotional experiences.
If your whiplash symptoms persist for longer, your non-economic damages might be greater because your pain and suffering are extended. Our car accident attorney can help you account for what could be a lifetime of pain with a chronic condition. We must also consider how your condition affects your mental health. Many living with chronic pain from whiplash report feeling depressed, anxious, and losing enjoyment in their lives.
Waiting to file your lawsuit might be beneficial in certain cases. By the time we get to your trial, we have a better idea of how long your whiplash symptoms are expected to last. We might be better able to claim greater non-economic damages if we know your symptoms are long-term or permanent. We might need a medical expert to provide expert testimony about your condition.
Can I Still Sue if My Whiplash Symptoms from a Car Accident Have Recovered?
While people experiencing long-term whiplash symptoms often have greater damages, people whose whiplash does not last for very long might still sue and recover damages. Generally, whiplash symptoms that recover rather quickly are not worth as much as long-term symptoms. Even so, our car accident attorney can help you evaluate your case and recover what damages you did incur.
Whiplash tends to be considered a non-serious injury because it often resolves on its own with minimal medical treatment. In fact, many people with whiplash fully recover after resting for a while and avoiding strenuous labor or work. This does not mean that you cannot sue. Even if your symptoms were brief, they might still have been painful, and you might still have incurred expensive medical bills.
Even a single visit to the emergency room for whiplash can be very expensive, especially for people without health insurance. On top of that, these kinds of expenses impact people differently. Perhaps someone with a higher income might be able to afford their medical bills, and they might feel a lawsuit is unnecessary if they heal quickly. However, people with lower incomes who cannot spare any money for medical bills might need to sue in order to cover their expenses.
Pain and suffering might still be significant, even if it is brief. Whiplash is known to be painful, and people are sometimes unable to move their heads and necks for days or even longer before their symptoms heal. Your pain, suffering, humiliation, and other non-economic damages during this time deserve compensation even if they resolve quickly.
Other Legal Options for Long-Term Whiplash Symptoms After a Car Accident
Whiplash that lasts for a long time might mean we need to explore other legal options in addition to a lawsuit. If your symptoms are so painful and persistence that you cannot return to work at all, you might want to think about filing for disability benefits in your state.
Disability benefits might be available under a variety of circumstances for people who can no longer work or can no longer work in the same capacity as before their disability. A lawyer can help you figure out what kind of program might be useful for you and how to apply for benefits.
Applying for disability does not mean you cannot also file a personal injury lawsuit for your car accident. In fact, it is a good idea to continue with your lawsuit and collect whatever damages awards you can now because disabilities are often not medically determined until some time after the accident. Even if you are medically determined to have a disability, it might be a qualifying disability, or your application for benefits might be rejected for some other reason. Our car accident attorneys can help you get started with a lawsuit while you also consider possible disability benefits.
Call Our Whiplash Attorneys About Your Case
If you suffered from whiplash after a car accident, your symptoms could still be ongoing. The longer your symptoms last, the greater your damages. Contact our Wakefield car accident attorneys about your case today. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 993-0198 to discuss your case in a free legal consultation.