Your Essential Guide to Whiplash Claims
Picture this: you’re driving along on a random Tuesday, maybe on your way home from work.
Suddenly, the car behind you slams into your rear, sending you into the car in front of you, and your head whipping back and forth. Before you even get out to assess the damage, all you can think is one thing: Ouch.
After a few minutes, the pain subsides. You think you’re okay and don’t inform the other parties (or the police) that you’re injured.
What you don’t know is that, weeks later, your neck will still be aching. You might even end up needing surgery to repair the damage. But since you didn’t consult a lawyer initially, it’s too late to seek reimbursement for medical costs.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Keep reading for your essential guide to whiplash claims, and to learn just why you might need to consider one.
What is Whiplash?
First, it’s important to decide if you’re a whiplash victim. Whiplash is a neck strain or sprain that results in certain symptoms of the neck, head, or shoulders. Those symptoms are:
- Stiffness or soreness
- Feeling tired
- Headaches or migraines
- Blurred vision
- Lessened range of motion
- Pain in the neck or head
A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is suddenly stretched by a very strong force. A sprain occurs when ligaments are torn or stretched too far. Either just one or both are at work on your neck when you’ve experience whiplash.
Your neck might also sustain injuries to your joints, ligaments, discs, nerve roots, or cervical muscles. It’s hard to tell if these injuries have actually been sustained without a medical professional’s opinion.
The First Step: Getting Checked Out
It’s essential to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as you can after experiencing whiplash.
First of all, the sooner a serious neck injury is detected, the better your chances of making a full recovery are. Whiplash injuries that go unchecked can worsen over time. Serious whiplash can even sometimes necessitate surgery to relieve chronic, long-lasting pain.
Secondly, documented injuries are a requirement to file any whiplash claim. Since whiplash has such a large variety of symptoms, whiplash claims have a reputation for being ingenuine. Avoid this stigma by backing up yourself up with the proper medical paperwork to document your diagnosis.
Why You Need an Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies are infamous for being difficult to deal with. It’s even more frustrating to deal with them when they’re trying to tell you your symptoms are fake.
Whiplash injuries can sometimes be hard to diagnose. Soft tissue injuries can’t be detected by an X-ray or MRI like broken bones can. Often, that means the case rests on the victim’s word.
Since diagnoses can be so arbitrary, insurance companies try to claim that patients are fabricating their symptoms of pain. It’s no wonder with 2.7 billion dollars paid out a year attributed to rear-accident neck injuries.
The facts are that whiplash can be incredibly painful, and symptoms can be surprisingly long-lasting. 75% of whiplash patients experience symptoms for 6 months or longer after their accident.
An injury lawyer that specializes in whiplash claims can take your case and handle insurance companies while you focus on recovery.
The Process of Whiplash Claims
Wondering what the processes of whiplash claims look like? This is how your legal process during a whiplash claim might go.
First, you’ll need to get checked out by a doctor immediately. Besides being essential for your quick recovery, your visit will provide the foundation for your claim.
You’ll need to obtain all legal documents, diagnoses, records, and receipts. Don’t forget to ask for copies of all medical imaging and prescription orders, as well. Make sure to hang onto them for use in your case.
You might need to take time off from work to deal with your whiplash symptoms and treatment. If this is the case, make sure you have your employer document your lost wages. Ask for the document to state your normal pay and regular hours, plus the time missed due to your injury.
It’s also a good idea to keep a daily, dated journal about how your injuries affect your life. Do you find yourself limited from any of your normal activities due to your injury? This is important information that will help your case, and could even help you gain more compensation.
Next, contact an injury lawyer who specializes in neck and whiplash injury. You’ll meet with them, explain all relevant details, and provide given medical records and data from your doctor. Your lawyer will inform you of your rights and let you know any necessary further steps or documentation you might need to acquire.
Then, your lawyer will file your whiplash claim. More than likely your claim will not end up in court- most whiplash claims are relatively minor. This depends on your symptoms and potential injuries, though.
If your claim doesn’t go to court, the responsible party will settle. Settlements can vary greatly in terms of the amount according to the severity of your injury and necessary medical procedures.
Whiplash Injuries and Time
Even if your symptoms are nonexistent or not too severe, it’s important that you take precautions by getting checked out and contacting an injury lawyer. Whiplash pain can manifest later in life, becoming chronic and sometimes even lasting years.
This sort of long-lasting injury can mean months to years of chiropractic and other medical visits that you shouldn’t be responsible for financing. If symptoms manifest later, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pinpoint their cause as potential whiplash from an accident long in the past.
What Do I Do Now?
Whiplash is painful enough without having to deal with the headache of insurance companies. You’re not alone; we can help. If you’re in the greater Chicago area and have been in a car or motorcycle accident, get in touch with us today to discuss the details of your case.
Questions? Check out our FAQ for some quick answers.
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