Yes, you can make a claim for whiplash after a car accident or 18-wheeler accident. Whiplash is often a result of a rear-end collision, and most states almost always consider the driver who rear-ended another vehicle to be at fault, regardless of why the driver in front stopped. However, whiplash is also a difficult thing to prove, as it can’t be shown with an x-ray or medical scans. Most insurance companies will require you to prove your whiplash in order to receive compensation for related damages. To build a successful case against the driver who caused the accident and to be reimbursed for whiplash and its negative impact on your life, you’ll want to make sure you take some key steps.
What is Whiplash?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Conditions and Stroke, whiplash is an injury to the soft tissue of the neck due to sudden hyperextension and hyperflexion. In severe cases, whiplash may also include injury to joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, or nerve roots. You might feel like you’ve sprained or strained your neck. Symptoms may include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Abnormal sensations, such as burning or prickling
- Tingling sensations in the arms
- Tenderness in the shoulders
- Shoulder pain
- Lower back pain
- Back pain
- Memory loss
- Concentration impairment
- Nervousness or irritability
- Sleep disturbances
Victims of car accidents may experience some symptoms of whiplash, such as neck pain, at the time of the accident, or a few hours later. However, other symptoms may start to show up several days after the accident occured.
Can Whiplash Be Fixed?
Yes. Whiplash can be treated by a doctor, who may prescribe pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, or a neck brace. A doctor may suggest you work with a physical therapist to regain cervical traction and range of motion. Most patients recover from whiplash within 3 months, although some may continue to have neck pain and headaches.
What are the Steps for Making a Claim of Whiplash?
It can be difficult to prove that you’re suffering from whiplash after a car accident, so in order to file a successful claim to have your medical bills, lost income, and any other physical or emotional damages from the accident compensated, you’ll need to take the following steps:
- Immediately after the car accident, call 911. Having a police report from the accident will help you establish your case in the courts. Here in Louisiana, for example, we are an at-fault state (also called a “tort” state). This means the driver who causes an accident uses their insurance to pay for the other driver’s bills from the collision. Police and insurance companies use the evidence from the accident to decide who is at fault for the accident, which is why it’s so important to have a police report.
- Exchange information with the other driver. It’s important to get the name, driver’s license, vehicle registration information, insurance company, and insurance policy number of the other driver to ensure he or she does not flee the scene before police arrive to file a report.
- Gather evidence at the scene. If you can, take photos of the accident, including the vehicles involved, the road conditions, and the location. A passenger or eye witness could also take photos and send them to you.
- Visit a doctor. Even if you’re undecided about pursuing a claim against the driver who caused the accident, it’s important to see a doctor for your own health and peace of mind. This will also allow you to make the decision later on to pursue a claim, if, for example, your whiplash intensifies in the days after the accident, resulting in additional medical costs. As soon as you are able to, see a physician and explain your symptoms. A doctor’s letter confirming your diagnosis of whiplash could greatly help your case.
- Keep track of your medical records. This might include records of visits to the doctor, notes from your doctor to keep you out of work while you recover from your injury, proof of diagnoses, tests performed, medications prescribed, or physical therapy. Maintaining good organization of these documents will help a lawyer establish whether or not you have a strong case.
- Keep track of the additional costs related to the accident. You may incur medical bills, lose income or wages as a result of being kept out of work, purchase a neck brace or other treatment, or have to pay for transportation to and from doctor visits and hospitals. Based on the circumstances of your accident, you may also be eligible for reimbursement of damages to your vehicle, such as vehicle repairs, or punitive damages, which are amounts awarded to victims as a means of punishment for a person whose grossly negligent conduct caused an accident.
- Maintain records of all physical symptoms you experience, as well as any emotional distress. Be sure to write these down to share with your personal injury lawyer. For example, you may find that you’re unable to sleep, conduct routine daily tasks, care for your family or dependents, or attend functions. Stay organized to the best of your ability, keep track of all paperwork, and document the ways whiplash negatively affects your life. These items will help determine how much the court might award you.
- Contact Breaux Law Firm. A personal injury lawyer at Breaux Law Firm can guide you through the claims process and make sure the insurance company takes your claim seriously. He or she can also advise you whether you should file a claim through the other party’s insurance or file a lawsuit instead. Personal injury lawyers understand how to move forward in a timely matter; for example, Louisiana has a one-year statute of limitations, which means your claim would need to be filed within one year of the accident.
You are entitled to seek compensation for any accident and the ensuing damages to your body, mental health, and finances, especially an accident where you were not at fault. However, the amount of compensation you receive depends on how well you have kept track of doctors visits, medical bills, and other concrete proof of how the whiplash has negatively affected your life. A personal injury attorney is well versed in building this type of case, and knows the ins and out of the insurance companies and the court system in your state. Keep in mind that hiring a personal injury lawsuit will likely result in higher compensation than filing an insurance claim.
Who Should I Reach Out To?
It can be difficult deciding whether or not to pursue a claim for whiplash. Discuss your options with a personal injury lawyer before making that decision. Most personal injury lawyers will schedule a free call or meeting to assess your case, like we do at Breaux Law Firm.If you were injured in a car accident or 18-wheeler accident in the state of Louisiana that resulted in whiplash, reach out to Breaux Law Firm today. At Breaux Law Firm, we make sure to provide personalized attention and care to each of our clients, and we fight for you as if we were fighting for one of our own family members. Every client deserves to feel this level of respect and concern. Contact the personal injury team at Breaux Law Firm to get started on your recovery.