How long after a car accident you can experience signs of whiplash depends on your unique injury. According to Mayo Clinic, you may not notice symptoms of whiplash until a few days after the injury.
After all, a car accident can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience, and when it happens, we often miss signs of initial physical injury. You may not initially feel pain and turn down the offer of going to the hospital to get checked out. However, as soon as you notice symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention, as you could see complications following an untreated whiplash injury.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a forceful and quick back-and-forth motion. Think of your neck moving like a whip. This movement hyper-extends the soft tissues in your neck (muscles and ligaments), which may happen upon impact as your body lunges forward and is stopped by a seatbelt, airbag, or both. Unfortunately, you don’t have a head belt, so your head and neck continue forward and snap.
Car accidents aren’t the only accidents that cause whiplash. You can also develop this injury if you are involved in contact sports, fell while horseback riding, had an accident while cycling, or experienced any other violent fall. Whiplash may also occur if you are involved in a physical altercation.
How Long After an Accident does it Take for Whiplash to Set in?
Depending on the circumstances and severity of the crash, you may feel whiplash symptoms right away or within 24 hours. It is typical for people to go to the doctor after the accident and display no symptoms – and then have to go back the next day for a true diagnosis as symptoms develop.
Either way, never attempt to make a diagnosis on your own. Only a doctor can diagnose you properly. A medical examination can also provide the documentation you need to link the injury to your car accident, which is important for an insurance claim.
How Long does Whiplash Last?
For most people, whiplash symptoms go away within a few days to a few months. However, some experience long-term side effects for up to and over a year. People who have a history of whiplash injury or existing back pain are more likely to develop complications from whiplash injuries.
Will a Late-Onset of Whiplash Affect an Insurance Claim?
If you took your pain seriously and went to the emergency room or doctor once you showed symptoms, you should have a valid case for compensation – even if you didn’t go to the doctor immediately after the accident.
If you develop symptoms later on, you could be able to file a claim with your insurance company. In these cases, you may want to seek out a lawyer’s help. They can help you work with the insurance company so that you can still pursue compensation—even if the insurance company disputes a link between your injury and the accident.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Whiplash does not feel good, whether it’s a mild or significant case. Common symptoms include:
- Pain when moving the neck
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Sore muscles in the neck and shoulders
- Nerve issues, like numbness or tingling in the arms and fingers
- Headaches and dizziness
Other symptoms like irritability, difficulty concentrating, or blurry vision may not generally be associated with whiplash but are less common side effects. Some symptoms may result from pain, like irritability, while others indicate more serious injury.
How a Doctor Will Examine You
When you visit the doctor’s office for whiplash or any other pain in the neck and shoulders you’re experiencing, they will check for swelling, limits in your range of motion, and other superficial injuries. A doctor may also order X-rays or other diagnostic imaging tests to make sure you haven’t fractured bones or sustained other injuries.
Be prepared to answer questions about where you feel pain, if the pain is dull, sharp, or throbbing, and how the injury happened.
Once diagnosed with whiplash, follow the doctor’s orders. Non-compliance will not help your case. Treatment may include:
- Wearing a foam collar for the first few days
- Taking painkillers and muscle relaxants
- Icing or heating the area
You may also be prescribed a round of physical therapy to help you regain mobility.
When to Contact a Lawyer’s Team If You Are Experiencing Whiplash
If you suffered an injury in a car accident, you should contact a lawyer as soon as you can. At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, our attorneys have years of experience dealing with automotive accident-related injuries, including whiplash. We’ll help seek the settlement you deserve as you recover from your injuries.