Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Understanding Whiplash Injuries After an Accident


Road congestion in Southern California is ranked among the worst in the nation. Drivers who spend hours in stop-and-go traffic are at an especially high risk of being involved in a rear-end crash, and the most common injury from such a crash is whiplash. Learn more below about how whiplash injuries can affect you, and speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.

Whiplash defined

Whiplash is a non-technical term used to describe injuries that result from so-called cervical acceleration-deceleration trauma. This is a type of trauma resulting from the body being abruptly thrown forward, meeting some resistance, then rebounding back. The aggressive back and forth movement causes tears and strains to the soft tissue and ligaments in the victim’s neck and back, and can even chip the bones in the neck and upper spine. Additionally, the force of the body against a seat back can throw the natural curvature of the victim’s spine out of alignment.

When whiplash injuries happen

Whiplash occurs most often in rear-end crashes. The condition is frequently more severe where the headrests on the victims’ seats were not properly positioned, or where victims were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. Rear-end crashes need not occur at a high rate of speed for injuries to result. Research has shown that tissues in the neck can be damaged in crashes occurring at even 5 mph. Most cars are moving at between 6 and 12 mph at the time of a rear-end crash.

What whiplash feels like

The most common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Tenderness or soreness in the neck
  • Headaches that radiate from the skull base
  • Stiffness in the neck and difficulty turning the head
  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of sensation or tingling in the arms or hands
  • Neck pain that gets worse with movement
  • Ringing in the ears or blurry vision

While these symptoms are often associated with whiplash, some of these may be indicative of a more serious condition, such as a form of TBI (traumatic brain injury). For this reason, it is important to see a doctor immediately after an accident to ensure you’re getting the treatment you need to recover.

Obtaining legal help with your whiplash injury claim makes a difference

Insurance carriers can be reluctant to pay claims for accident victims where the accident caused only minor damage to the vehicles involved. In order to make sure you get the money you deserve, you should consult with an experienced California personal injury attorney. An attorney will be able to assess how much you’re owed in damages, and negotiate skillfully and aggressively on your behalf.

For legal help after you’re hurt in a Southern California crash, contact the dedicated and knowledgeable Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at Magaña, Cathcart, & McCarthy for a free consultation, at 310-553-6630.

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