Neck Pain After a Car Accident
It’s common to experience neck pain after a car accident. However, some may misjudge that pain, due to shock or adrenaline, assuming that only a minor injury was sustained in the crash. The reality is that even a seemingly minor neck injury can have long-term complications.
If you are undergoing any level of neck pain that was initiated by a car accident, seek immediate medical treatment and follow these five precautionary measures. Doing so will preserve your health and well-being.
What Types of Car Accident Neck Injuries Can Be Compensated?
Neck injuries will vary based on the nature of the car accidents, ranging from mild muscle spasms to severe spinal cord injuries.
Therefore, it is essential to seek medical treatment to determine the extent of the injury and receive the appropriate medical care. The most common types of neck injuries are:
- Facet Joint Injuries – Connecting the bones to the spine, this type of neck injury can cause muscle spasms, muscle strain, and a stiff neck.
- Herniated Disc/Slipped Disc – Triggered from the impact, the violent reaction in the neck area can cause sharp pain or numbness in the arms and legs.
- Neck Sprain – Upper neck muscles can be strained during a collision, resulting in soft tissue injuries, which affect mobility and overall comfort in daily activities (sitting, walking, sleeping, etc).
- Pinched Nerves – Sharp, burning pain may radiate around the neck and spinal cord, causing chronic pain and muscle weakness.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – Severe pain, numbness, and loss of sensation in the hands and feet can result from these types of severe neck injuries.
- Whiplash – One of the most common neck injuries from car accidents and is often caused by rear-end collisions. Common symptoms include neck pain, loss of range of motion, regular headaches, and dizziness.
If any of the preceding symptoms are experienced after a car accident, it is absolutely vital to take the following measures to protect your health and well-being. Here are five things you should do after a motor vehicle accident if you are suffering from car accident neck pain.
1. Seek Medical Attention for Neck Pain
Whether it’s an apparently minor accident or a serious accident, seek medical attention. If immediate neck pain after a car accident is not experienced, still see a doctor for a full medical evaluation.
Sometimes victims do not initially realize an injury has been sustained till a few weeks later and after the adrenaline has worn off. Even a minor auto accident can cause serious injuries that are not always apparent.
How Neck Injuries Are Detected
Damaged soft tissues, intervertebral discs, facet joints, and other harm to the surrounding nerves that are causing pain are not easily detectable.
Only a physician can assess the extent of injuries and provide a treatment plan that will promote healthy recovery and relieve neck pain. Treatment options may consist of:
- Examining stiff muscles and the spine and posture to look for any abnormalities in the structure
- Assessment of mobility, difficulty to turn neck, and check for muscle spasms
- X-rays allow for detailed imaging of the bones and can detect a pinched nerve
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to examine facet joints, as well as where the facet joints connect and surrounding soft tissue
- CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan to create three-dimensional views of the spinal canal and surrounding tissues
- EMG (electromyography) to measure electrical activity, which indicates if muscle or nerve damage was sustained
Neglecting to seek medical treatment not only compromises a victim’s physical health but can also affect the outcome of a personal injury case. Insurance companies will argue that the neck injuries were not caused by the car accident with their client, as the victim failed to seek treatment after the accident.
Medical exams and associated medical bills are calculated into how much compensation a victim can recover, so if these components are missing, the final settlement can be negatively impacted.
2. Follow the Treatment Plan
As important as receiving initial treatment, ensure all follow-up appointments are also completed. Following a doctor’s treatment plan is crucial after suffering a neck injury from a car accident, because these plans are specifically designed to reduce pain and promote a successful recovery.
Treatment options usually include a combination of rest, physical therapy, medication, and in severe cases, surgery. For neck pain relief, it may be recommended to meet with the following types of specialists:
- Pain specialists
- Physical therapists
Medical records are crucial in a personal injury case, as it logs the patient’s health progress/decline and the cost of treatment. The duration of the medical treatment plan is often used to demonstrate the seriousness of the injury and how the neck pain has affected the victim’s life.
Insurance companies will often use a person’s inaction, like missing follow-up appointments, as a tactic to hurt a personal injury case. Therefore, follow the treatment plan prescribed by the doctor.
3. Rest and Recuperate
Neck pain after a car accident can be debilitating, so it’s important to designate some time for recovery. Follow treatment options and instructions provided by the treating physician and avoid any activities that exacerbate the neck pain. Doctors may make these recommendations to alleviate neck pain:
- Hot packs to increase blood flow
- Ice packs to relieve pain
- Over-the-counter or prescribed oral pain relievers
- Massage therapy
- Muscle relaxers for muscle tension
- Numbing injections or pain medication
- Physical therapy
Practicing healthy lifestyle changes, such as regular sleep, improved diet, and light exercise will also promote recovery. However, limit activities or challenging exercises that involve heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or that cause pain.
Once cleared by the treating physician or physical therapist, gradual strengthening exercises may be incorporated into the regimen. When recovering damages, the accumulation of medical bills from these various forms of aftercare may be included in the final settlement.
4. Retain Evidence and Medical Documentation
When compensating car accident victims, current losses and anticipated future losses are calculated into the final verdict or settlement. Compensation for neck injuries can include:
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Reimbursement for current medical expenses and future medical care
In order to prove such losses were suffered, there needs to be evidence. Therefore, retain all invoices, bills, receipts, or other documents associated with monetary losses.
Any evidence that was obtained from the accident scene, such as photos of the crash site, videos of the damaged vehicles, witness statements, and police reports will also be helpful in the legal proceedings.
How Evidence Contributes to the Final Verdict and Settlement
Proof from the available evidence will be calculated into different formulas of how much a car accident claim is worth. The most common formulas consist of the two following methods.
Multiplier Method: In this method, the cost of economic damages (monetary losses) is multiplied by a scale of numbers 1.5 – 5. The more serious the injuries are, the higher the multiplier number will be.
A Per Diem Method: In this method, the compensation is based on the number of days victims had to withstand the “pain and suffering” of the car accident.
5. Consult with an Experienced Buena Park Personal Injury Attorney
The importance of seeking financial compensation after an accident isn’t just to secure a payout because the opportunity presented itself. The importance of filing a personal injury claim is to ensure any future medical needs are financially taken care of.
Oftentimes, people believe their injuries are not severe, or they are under the impression that the neck pain they’re experiencing is just from soreness and bruising.
However, neck pain after a car accident is often more dire, especially in the coming few weeks when the pain intensifies.
Why Legal Representation Is Needed
A personal injury claim should cover all medical expenses, current and future, as hospitalization, surgery, duration of rehabilitation, and other medical expenses are very costly.
In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the average cost of medical treatment for a car accident injury is $15,000.
After suffering neck injuries in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, it is in a victim’s best interest to consult with a Buena Park personal injury lawyer. Attorneys help clients navigate the legal system and fight to obtain maximum compensation.
We Specialize in Neck Pain Injuries
Suffering a neck injury after a car accident can be a scary and overwhelming experience. By taking immediate action and following the provided outlined steps, you will improve your rate of recovery and preserve your well-being.
It’s natural to feel confused, angry, or uncertain after an accident. Whatever challenges you’re facing, you don’t have to go through them alone. Park Accident Attorneys has the experience and talent needed to produce a case win with optimal recovery.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Buena Park, CA, our legal team will work to recover the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact us now to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.