Whiplash is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. According to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 200,000 whiplash injuries occur in the United States each year. Further, whiplash is a chronically underdiagnosed medical condition. Whiplash injury victims often do not report their condition for days, or even weeks, after an accident. If you have suffered a whiplash injury, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Charleston auto accident lawyer for immediate legal assistance.
What Is Whiplash?
The term whiplash has been around for nearly 80 years. The injury is most commonly associated with car accidents, though it can certainly happen at other times as well. You may hear whiplash simply called a neck strain. The injury occurs when the muscles, the tendons or the ligaments in the neck suffer hyperextension followed by sudden hyperflexion. In other words, the head and neck will be violently ‘whipped’ backwards and then immediately forwards. The overextension itself can cause damage, but the real culprit is the rapidness with which the head is jerked back and forth. The immense amount of force that is placed on the head and neck in many auto collisions can cause serious damage to the soft tissues within the neck.
Whiplash Injuries can be Controversial
It may sound strange to classify an injury as ‘controversial,’ but unfortunately whiplash injury victims sometimes face negative biases from insurance companies. Whiplash injury victims sometimes face difficulties for three reasons:
- Delayed onset: The injury is notoriously slow to appear. This leads some people to conclude that whiplash injury victims must be ‘playing up’ their injuries. After all, if they were so injured, why are they just now complaining about issue a week later? Of course, medical research can explain exactly why that effect occurs. There is complex combination of adrenaline, psychological conditions, tissue recovery, inflammation and muscle spasming which all work together to determine when debilitating pain will be felt by the body. A delayed onset whiplash injury is normal after an auto accident, and is not evidence that the injury is illegitimate.
- Difficult to pinpoint: The issue of delayed injury onset is compounded by the fact that soft tissue injuries are difficult to pinpoint with medical tests. No one accuses a person with a broken arm of faking their injury. This is because the injury is very visible and comes out clearly on the results of an x-ray. Unfortunately, the very nature of whiplash injuries prevent a simple diagnosis. Whiplash injuries involve the complicated intersection of soft tissue damage, nerve damage, joint pain and damaged connective tissue. There is no simple test available that can clearly validate the precise extent to a whiplash injury exists. Of course, this does not make the pain, or injury damage, any less real or any less debilitating.
- Insurance companies deflecting blame: Finally, the large insurance companies are all too eager to look for opportunities to minimize their expenses. Ultimately, their bottom line depends on the limiting the recovery of injured victims. An insurance company may try to exploit any ambiguity related to your injury, and could use that information to limit your settlement offer.
Recovering full and fair compensation for your car accident injury can be challenging. You should always hire an experienced attorney who fully understands the South Carolina car accident injury process. You need someone who will aggressively work to protect your rights. This becomes especially important if you have suffered a major whiplash injury. Your car accident attorney will help you gather and assemble the evidence needed to make a strong case. Further, your attorney will ensure that the insurance company treats your case fairly.
Key Evidence in Whiplash Injury Cases
In many ways, evidence in your whiplash injury case will be similar in nature to the evidence in other car accident injury cases. For example, you will still need to prove that the negligence of the other party caused your damage. However, because of the aforementioned medical concerns, whiplash injury victims need to consider a couple of unique evidence related issues:
- Act quickly: The unfortunate bias against whiplash victims makes acting quickly even more important. You should contact a medical professional, and a legal professional, immediately after any serious accident. It is important to get yourself checked out by a doctor even if you feel fine. First, it is important for your health; whiplash is not the only car accident injury that frequently has a delayed onset, so you will want to make sure that you are alright. Additionally, acting quickly will help your legal claim. You need to start creating a paper trail of medical documentation as soon as possible.
- Acquire documentation: An experienced auto accident attorney can help ensure that you are receiving appropriate care, and that you have had all necessary medical tests run to help establish the existence of your injury. The last thing you need is future conflict with an insurance company over the extent of injuries. If you do not have extensive medical documentation supporting your case, recovering fair compensation becomes much more difficult.
Dealing with Insurance Adjusters
An insurance adjuster is an agent of the insurance company. They are experienced professionals paid to represent the interests of the company. Insurance adjusters are not on your side. Typically, companies will train their representatives to come off as friendly and disarming. This is because they want to keep you talking about your accident, and your injuries, in the hopes that you will say something that they can use against you in the claims process. When going through a Charleston whiplash injury claim, it is important to remember a few key things:
- You generally do not owe an opposing insurance company a statement;
- You do not have to take endless calls from the insurance company;
- Always be skeptical of quick settlement offers from the company; and
- Let an experienced attorney deal with the insurance company.
Contact An Aggressive Car Accident Attorney
Whiplash victims deserve full and fair compensation for their injuries. The aggressive Charleston car accident attorneys at the David Aylor Law Offices will help. If you have suffered an injury in a South Carolina car accident, please contact our office today at to schedule your free initial consultation.