Car Accidents and Whiplash Injuries: What You Need to Know

A whiplash injury is one of the most likely outcomes of a California car accident. If you’re in a car crash, your whiplash injury could range from barely noticeable to extremely painful.

It happens when your head whips back and forth in the impact of a crash, causing your neck to endure a hard, fast snap. Rear-end collisions are a common cause, but almost any car accident can lead to whiplash.

How Common is Whiplash?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that up to 75% of car accidents involve some level of whiplash injuries. Notably, this includes slow-moving accidents of less than 15 miles per hour.

There’s often a delayed effect, so you might not even realize at first that you are injured. Your whiplash could take days or even weeks after the accident to be noticeable. This is why a doctor’s thorough evaluation is so important.

Many of the whiplash injuries in the NIH study mentioned above were detected up to 5 weeks after the accident. The physical structure of the neck, spine, and back is such that injuries can happen deep within the body and take time to arise, ultimately causing painful and debilitating symptoms.

Symptoms of Whiplash From Car Accidents

Whiplash has a set of characteristic symptoms that are usually present in people who have endured forceful impacts in car accidents. These symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Worsening pain with movement
  • Difficulty turning the head
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling

In the most severe cases, whiplash also involves persistent arm numbness, neck and shoulder immobility, and migraine-level headaches that interfere with the person’s ability to function. A doctor needs to determine whether a person with severe whiplash might also have other conditions like a concussion or a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Treatment for Whiplash After a Car Accident

The treatment you need for whiplash depends on several factors: the severity of your injury, any other injuries you may have, and your health background. It’s common for a doctor to order diagnostic scans that help them determine your level of injury and course of treatment.

Common medical scans for whiplash are:

  • X-rays to find bone fractures and dislocations in the neck
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans to show deep bone damage
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing to see soft tissue damage and any deeper damage to the body’s spinal cord, discs in the back, and ligaments.

Your doctor might prescribe painkillers or muscle relaxants that help you deal with the pain. Rest and relaxation are extremely important for whiplash. The neck needs time to heal from the injury without being exposed to overuse that could damage it during the vulnerable healing period.

Physical therapy is sometimes recommended for whiplash, especially when someone is facing a reduced range of motion. If you work at a physical job that requires twisting or heavy lifting, physical therapy could be required to get you back to the physical condition you need for work.

Your whiplash treatment could be covered by your health insurance and/or handled through car accident compensation. If the other person in the crash is at fault, they and their insurance company may owe for part or all of your bills.

How is Fault Determined in a Whiplash Case?

California is a comparative negligence state, which means each person’s fault in the crash will be evaluated and assigned a percentage. The responsibility for the crash, and thus the costs, could be divided between you and the other person or among several people.

Your car accident lawyer can help you establish your case and present the losses you’ve suffered. To secure maximum compensation, you’ll need plenty of convincing evidence including medical bills, witness accounts, photos, videos, debris from the crash, and the police report.

Potential sources of compensation include:

  • Existing medical bills for whiplash and other injuries
  • Cost of future medical treatment
  • Lost wages and earning capacity
  • Property losses
  • Pain and suffering

Here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we have compassion for people like you who have been injured in traffic accidents. Contact us for a free consultation about your whiplash injury and we’ll help you understand your options.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including car accidents with whiplash. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

Accident Client

I am not a litigious person at all, and would not previously have given thought to hiring a personal injury attorney. However, after being struck by a car as a pedestrian while walking across a crosswalk with the right of way, sustaining injuries and requiring ambulance transport to SFGH for emergency medical care, I expected a fair offer from the driverÕs insurance company afterwards. Instead, they provided an insultingly lowball offer barely above the cost of medical expenses, and after a short period it became clear that negotiating with them on my own would be futile. After searching around for an attorney who seemed fair, well-qualified, reasonable, and not overbearing, I decided to go with Sally Morin.

I have been very pleased with her work on my behalf, which over the course of several months included negotiating with the insurance company, seeking out the defendant when he unfortunately proved to be evasive, reducing the cost of my medical bills, and ultimately arriving at a fair settlement far (thousands of dollars) above what the original offer was. This helped save me a considerable amount of both time and stress. Sally kept me apprised along the way with what was going on and was honest in her work, taking at the end an entirely reasonable percentage fee for her services.

I appreciate all of SallyÕs efforts and am glad I went with her. I would absolutely recommend her to others if a similar unfortunate situation were to arise.

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We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible