Whiplash is an injury that is often stereotyped as not that serious. However, this type of neck injury can be quite debilitating. Accident victims may suffer from ongoing pain, headaches, fatigue, and persistent anxiety due to whiplash.
Our Oklahoma whiplash injury attorneys understand how much this type of injury can affect your mobility, your ability to work, and your life. If you’ve been in an accident that was someone else’s fault and are struggling to cope with a whiplash injury, contact the Cain Law Office now. Our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case for free and explain all your legal rights.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash occurs when the head and neck move back and forth in rapid succession while the body remains still. The injury gets its name because the neck makes the same motion as the cracking of a whip. Whiplash is very common in rear-end car accidents, although other accidents can cause whiplash as well.
A whiplash injury always requires medical attention. Unfortunately, many accident victims don’t realize they’ve sustained an injury until later, and so their recovery takes much longer. Whiplash is also sometimes referred to as a neck sprain or strain, although these terms also encompass other types of injuries.
Whiplash Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of whiplash are not always apparent right away. In the hours and days following an accident, victims should be aware of symptoms such as:
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain and stiffness in the shoulder
- Extreme fatigue
- Jaw pain
- Pain and weakness in the arm
- Visual problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Back pain
When whiplash is severe, it can cause other symptoms that negatively impact a person. This is known as whiplash associated disorder. When a person suffers from this disorder, he or she may experience:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Unfortunately, whiplash symptoms aren’t always temporary. Whiplash has many long-term consequences, such as:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck
- Extreme fatigue
Breathing disorders, cardiovascular conditions, digestive problems, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain syndrome are just a few of the long-term conditions commonly associated with whiplash.
How Long Do the Symptoms of Whiplash Last?
Most whiplash injuries will heal within six weeks from the time a person was involved in an accident. This isn’t always the case, though. Many people report continued neck pain more than 10 years after the original injury. Some people experience symptoms for the remainder of their lives.
It’s usually during the first three weeks that whiplash is most painful. The amount of pain a person feels during this time is an indication of how severe the injury is. People with immense pain often do not make a full recovery. Individuals who have pre-existing conditions such as neck pain, arthritis, and chronic headaches also have a hard time recovering fully from whiplash.
Even when a person does not experience symptoms after several years, the impacts of whiplash always stay with them. Once a whiplash injury is sustained, the neck becomes more susceptible to suffering an injury in the future.
Compensation for a Whiplash Injury
In Oklahoma, there are two main types of compensation in a personal injury claim. The first is economic damages. These compensate accident victims for specific costs associated with their injury. Some types of economic damages associated with whiplash injuries include:
- Medical costs (past, current, and future)
- Medical devices, such as a neck brace
- Travel to and from doctor’s appointments
- Physical therapy costs
- Lost income
- Reduced earning capacity for the future
The second main type of damages are non-economic damages. These are losses you’ve suffered that don’t have an actual dollar value. Oklahoma law recognizes that even though these losses don’t have a calculable value, you deserve to receive compensation for them. These types of damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
It’s important to understand that Oklahoma follows a modified comparative fault law. This means that if you were partly at fault for an accident, any compensation you are awarded will be reduced. The courts will assign you a percentage of fault, and your compensation is reduced by the same percentage.
Insurance companies and at-fault parties will often try to take advantage of this law, but an experienced Oklahoma whiplash attorney can aggressively refute claims of fault by the defense.
Steps to Take After a Whiplash Injury
After suffering a whiplash injury, many accident victims don’t know what to do next. The next steps you take, however, are crucial to your personal injury claim. Below are four steps every accident victim should take to protect their claim:
- Seek medical attention: The most important thing after an accident is your health. The sooner you seek medical attention, the sooner you can get back on the road to good health. Also, getting medical help right away ensures your injuries are documented from the beginning.
- Document the accident scene: As soon as you can, document the accident scene. Take pictures of any vehicles involved, the damage done to them, your injuries, and any other pertinent information. This is crucial evidence that will disappear in the days and weeks following the accident. Also get the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
- Save all paperwork: Whether it’s medical reports, doctor bills, communication from the insurance company, or the accident report, save all paperwork you receive that is related to the accident. This is also crucial evidence and can help prove the extent of your injuries.
- Get legal advice immediately: Before you even speak to the insurance company, you should speak to an attorney who can help. Insurance companies are going to use tactics to avoid paying, reduce or delay your claim. They will try to get you to admit fault, even if you don’t think you’re doing so, and take your words out of context. A skilled whiplash attorney will not let them get away with these tactics and can manage all aspects of your claim, so you can focus on your recovery.
Contact Your Experienced Oklahoma Whiplash Injury Attorney
If you suffered whiplash as a result of an accident that was the fault of someone else, you should not be forced to pay for someone else’s mistake. At the Cain Law Office, our experienced Oklahoma car accident attorneys can help you every step of the way, building a solid claim for maximum compensation.
Contact us today for your free consultation so we can get started on your case.