How Do I File a Claim for a Whiplash Injury in Florida?
Many of you have probably heard the term “whiplash injury,” but what you might not know is how serious this type of injury can be. Imagine the motion that it takes to crack a whip, but the whip is your spine. The most common cause of whiplash injuries is the result of rear-end collisions.
What Causes Auto Accident-Related Whiplash Injuries?
When your vehicle is hit from the rear, the impact causes the head and neck to first be forced backward as the seat pushes your torso forward. This is followed by an opposite movement when the head and neck are thrown forward rapidly.
These rapid back and forth movements cause the cervical spine to contort into an unnatural S-shape. The soft tissues that hold your spine together (ligaments, facet capsules, muscles) can become hyper-extended, leading to small or large tears and compressions in the tissues.
How Do I Know if I Have a Whiplash Injury?
It is imperative to pay close attention to any changes in your body after an auto accident. The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Lower back pain
- Pain or numbness in your arm or hand
- Ringing in the ears or blurred vision
- Problems in concentration or memory
- Inability to control muscles, bowels, or bladder
Be sure to document the dates of onset for any of these or any other symptoms you may experience, especially if you must wait a little while before seeing a doctor.
Is a Whiplash Injury Difficult to Prove?
The extent of whiplash injuries is often questioned during legal fights with insurance companies. Until recently, the integrity of neck pain complaints and other symptoms associated with whiplash accidents was commonly viewed as doubtful. This type of injury comes into question because whiplash injuries involve the neck and spine’s soft tissue.
Some of the most common reasons that make proving whiplash claims difficult include:
- It is considered a minor injury that doesn’t require immediate treatment.
- Symptoms may not set in immediately after the accident.
- No definitive tests to prove a whiplash soft-tissue injury is causing the pain.
- Advanced tests for whiplash injuries like CT scans and MRIs are very costly.
- Difficult to prove the pain is not due to a previous injury or disease like arthritis.
- Because it is difficult to prove, it is one of the most commonly faked injuries.
Recent studies have helped clarify why drivers and passengers who are rear-ended experience more extensive whiplash injuries than those in other types of crashes. Whiplash is typically not a life-threatening injury, but it can lead to a prolonged period of partial disability. That is why if you are rear-ended, you should immediately seek medical care to document any issues that may arise adequately.
How Do I Get Proof of a Whiplash Injury?
Whiplash injury claims to insurers can exceed $30 billion a year in the United States. The economic fallout from whiplash injuries include:
- Medical care
- Sick leave
- Lost productivity
After a car accident, the patient may be taken to the hospital or a doctor’s office to get an examination. It is probable that, despite complaints of pain, x-rays results might come back normal. If the pain persists for several weeks, doctors might consider ordering an MRI or CT scan to detect whiplash injuries to the neck’s soft tissues that may not be visible with standard x-rays of the neck. However, more advanced tests to diagnose whiplash can be very costly. This adds to the reasons why insurance companies try so hard to disprove claims of whiplash injuries.
Can I File a Whiplash Claim if the Other Driver is Uninsured?
Florida has the highest rate of uninsured drivers. Up to 25% of drivers on Florida roadways are uninsured or underinsured. What this means is that if you sustain a whiplash injury as a result of the negligence of an uninsured driver, you’ll be responsible for all related medical and auto repair bills. To avoid getting stuck with massive insurance bills, it is wise to carry uninsured motorist coverage in addition to your regular auto insurance.
Should I Get an Attorney for a Whiplash Injury in Florida?
The most critical issue in recovering from whiplash is understanding that this is a real injury. Be conscious of the doctor’s recommendations. Secondly, having an experienced attorney on your side will help overcome doubts about pain complaints’ integrity when filing a claim for injuries against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Being able to demonstrate in court the severity and negative consequences of whiplash accidents is a task that requires skillful lawyers.
At Darrigo & Diaz, we pride ourselves on maintaining an exceptional legal team with more than 30 years of experience and an extensive list of settlements and trial victories. If you have been injured in a car accident, call our office at (813) 774-3341 for a free consultation right over the phone. We represent victims in slip and fall accidents, wrongful death cases, premises liability, and several other cases based on personal injury.