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What is Whiplash and Can I Be Compensated for It?

by | Jun 20, 2018 | Car Accidents, Personal Injury |

  • Is whiplash a medical condition?
  • Can I sue for whiplash if it was caused by an auto accident?
  • Is there even something known as whiplash?

These are just a few of the questions raised by victims of car accidents that suffer this painful injury. The answers to these questions are simple. Yes, whiplash is a real medical condition and if your whiplash was caused by a car accident that was not your fault, you can sue for compensation.

What Causes Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury that occurs when the neck is extended by a sudden and violent force. This often occurs during a rear-end car accident. The force of the accident results in the head of the victim being thrown forward and backward rapidly and with excessive force. This results in the stretching and in some cases tearing of the anterior longitudinal ligament that runs down your neck.

Whiplash may not be a life threatening injury but it can be a constant source of unbearable pain. Some victims suffer damage to their trapezius muscles or the supraspinatus muscle as well as the damage to the anterior longitudinal ligament.

Symptoms of Whiplash

It is not uncommon for victims of car accidents to walk away from the accident feeling perfectly fine. This is especially the case with whiplash. The symptoms of the injury often become apparent in the 24 hours following the accident. They include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the arm
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased pain in the neck
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • A decrease in the range of movement of the neck
  • Problems with memory
  • Sleep disruptions

Many victims of car accidents ignore the subtle symptoms of whiplash and end up seeking medical attention when the injuries are severe. It is always important to seek medical attention immediately after the accident whether or not you’re visibly injured.

In Louisiana, there are strict time limits within which you must file a claim for injuries if you want to pursue legal action. The clock starts ticking when you knew or should have known about your claim. Also, your claim will be stronger if you have medical records from shortly after the accident, so it is always in your interest to see a doctor as soon as possible after the collision.


Diagnosis of whiplash often involves:

  • Assessment of the range of motion of your neck by a doctor. The doctor will want to see what movements cause pain and whether the reflexes and strength in your limbs have been affected.
  • Imaging of the neck to rule out other conditions that may contribute to neck pain. Imaging may include x-rays to look for dislocations and fractures, MRI to look for soft tissue injuries, and CT scans to look for details of bone damage.

Treatment of whiplash often includes physical therapy and administration of pain killers. You may also apply heat or cold to control swelling and encourage the relaxation of muscles.