Neck Injuries

If you are involved in a car accident, it is not uncommon to injure your neck. Some of the most common neck injuries include:

  • Whiplash,
  • Herniated disc, and
  • Pinched nerve.

It is possible to suffer from just one of these injuries, a combination or even all three.

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a common type of neck injury in car accidents involving a rear-end collision. Because cars typically travel in a forward direction, a sudden rear-end collision will cause a driver or passenger’s head to rapidly jerk back and forth. That rapid motion is known as whiplash.

More specifically, the rear impact forces your head and neck into a hyperextended (backward) position, while your seat forces your torso forward. The head and neck are then forced into a hyper-flexed (forward) position. That motion occurs rapidly and feels like your head and neck are being jerked back and forth.

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash can be difficult to diagnose, especially since you might not experience symptoms immediately and the symptoms that you do experience can be associated with other ailments. It might be hours or even days before any symptoms manifest. However, here are common symptoms that are associated with whiplash:

  • Neck pain and stiffness,
  • Shoulder/arm pain and stiffness,
  • Back pain
  • Headaches,
  • Jaw pain,
  • Dizziness and fatigue,
  • Ringing in your ears, and
  • Vision problems.

Whiplash can also be more severe. If your symptoms include difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, you might be suffering from an ailment called whiplash associated disorder.

Economic Costs of Whiplash

While whiplash is not a life-threatening injury, it is often a persistent one. People who suffer whiplash in a car accident may have symptoms that continue for years after the crash. Long-term sufferers might be forced to go on partial disability from work and require additional physical therapy. Because whiplash can be a persistent injury requiring years of medical treatment, it can also be expensive. That’s why it’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis upfront and consult an experienced personal injury lawyer who has dealt with these types of injuries.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

Too much neck motion might cause a herniated or slipped disc. As with whiplash, car accidents are a common cause of cervical herniated discs since the jarring motion of a crash can put tremendous strain on the neck.

Another way to think of a cervical herniated disc is to picture a jelly donut. The jelly-like center of the disc is encased within an outer ring. When there is too much pressure on the outer ring, the jelly can leak out. A herniated disc occurs when that center part pushes through the outer ring.

What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

A cervical herniated disc can affect the neck, shoulder, arms, hands and fingers. Symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness and tingling. Treatment varies but can include medication, surgery, and physical therapy.

What Is a Pinched Nerve?

The medical term for a pinched nerve in the neck is cervical radiculopathy. When a nerve in your cervical spine (neck) is damaged, or pinched, pain can radiate along the nerve’s pathway into your arm and hand. One common cause of cervical radiculopathy is a cervical herniated disc, which presses (or pinches) on a cervical nerve.

What Are the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?

Common symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include pain, weakness or numbness in your neck, shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. The pain might be in one area or everywhere along the nerve pathway. The pain might be dull or it could feel like your arm is burning. Certain movements, like nodding your head, might increase the pain. Treatment varies based on the severity and cause of the cervical radiculopathy.

What Do I Do If My Neck Is Injured in a Car Accident?

You have a right to compensation for your medical expenses, including medication, surgery, and physical therapy, but only if you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you prove that the accident was not your fault.

Also keep in mind that personal injury claims are time-sensitive. Your personal injury lawsuit must be brought within two years of the accident.

While Oklahoma does not cap what you can recover for medical expenses, the law does place a $350,000 cap on what you can recover for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.

Reach Out to Our Office

If you or a loved one is has experienced whiplash in a car accident, contact the law office of Charles Bryan Alred, P.C., today. Our passionate attorneys will assist you throughout each step of the personal injury process.