People tend to downplay the seriousness of whiplash. Asked if they want to go to the emergency room after a car crash, a passenger all too often refuses treatment because its “only a little whiplash.” In the age-old joke, a lawyer exaggerates the client’s whiplash.

The truth is, however, that while whiplash can be mild and an inconvenience for a few days, it can also take a few months to recover from severe symptoms, running up medical and therapy bills, and missing work. In an extreme case, the victim might walk away with long-term or permanent, chronic pain.

What is whiplash?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common cause of whiplash is a rear-end vehicle collision. The mechanics of the injury is a transfer of energy from the crash to the uncontrolled neck, which “whips” forcefully back and forth from the impact.

It is important to recognize that symptoms may not develop immediately and may include:

  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, arms or back
  • Neck stiffness
  • Headache
  • Limited neck range of motion
  • Pain with neck movement
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness into the arms
  • Fatigue and sleep abnormalities
  • Spinal and disc injury
  • Harm to ligaments, nerves, muscle and other tissue
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Depression
  • Vision changes
  • Ringing sound in ears

According to Mayo, a victim has a higher chance of serious harm from whiplash if he or she is a senior, already has back or neck pain, or previously experienced whiplash.

Legal remedies

We must acknowledge the reality of the range of severity that can result so that someone who suffers whiplash in a crash gets thorough medical examination, monitoring and treatment as well as legal representation to advocate for full compensation for all resulting losses.

Those losses may include medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, property damage and more.