What Are Whiplash Associated Disorders?

Published on 04/19/2021 by Monica Burneikis

The state of California allows a two-year “grace period” for auto accident victims to file their claims.  The effects of whiplash associated disorders is one of the most compelling reasons why that window remains open for so long.  

Read How Much Time Do I Have After My Accident to File a Lawsuit, to learn more about that. 

Accident victims who reported, “I’m fine…” or “everything feels okay,” at the scene of the accident often discover they suffered physical injuries or psychological trauma that did not manifest until weeks or months later.  

Whiplash and its associated, long-term disorders are a prime example of the importance of consulting with an Oakland car accident attorney when you have been involved in an accident. Even if you initially choose not to pursue a case, the attorneys at Burneikis Law can hold your information in our files and pick up where we left off if you later discover you have suffered a whiplash associated disorder, which can come back to haunt you both in terms of the development of physical pain and in the form of escalating medical bills. 

Whiplash Associated Disorders Are Common After A Car Accident 

Whiplash and cervical spine injuries (injuries that occur in the neck area of the spinal column) are some of the most common car accident-related injuries

If an accident is dramatic enough and the whiplash is severe, victims may feel the pain right away. However, in the moments following an accident, it is extremely common for accident victims to be flooded with adrenaline, which is a natural numbing agent for the body.  As a result, victims often make statements like, “I’m okay…” or “I’m not hurt…,” because they do not yet feel the impact the accident has had on the body.  Savvy insurance carriers take these words and use them against victims.  This is one of the reasons it is important to have a skilled car accident attorney supporting the victim and their case. 

What is whiplash? 

The injuries that commonly occur in the neck and upper cervical spine to the mid-back level are the results of the stretching and then rapid compaction of tissues that occurs during and after an impact.  The spine can experience incredible trauma as it endures the forceful movements resulting from the blow of a car striking another vehicle or object.  

The most common of these neck/upper back injuries is called whiplash, which gets its name from the whipping forward and lashing back of the neck during the accident. 

The Mayo Clinic describes symptoms of whiplash injuries as follows: 

  • Neck pain and stiffness 
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement 
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck 
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull 
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back, or arms 
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness 

Some people also have: 

  • Blurred vision 
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Irritability 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Memory problems 
  • Depression 

It is imperative to always schedule an appointment with a doctor and an x-ray if you’ve been involved in a car accident, even if you do not immediately feel you have suffered an injury.

No matter how “fine” you feel, anyone who has been in a motor vehicle accident that involved a sudden impact should, at the very least, schedule an appointment with their general physician and get an x-ray within 24 to 48 hours of the crash.  

These initial medical records and related documents can become very important later on if your whiplash symptoms evolve into whiplash associated disorders. 

What are whiplash associated disorders (WADs)? 

While whiplash may be the most immediate injury, the effects of an undiagnosed or poorly treated whiplash may not fade with time.  Rather, the injuries affecting the spine, nerves, and surrounding connective tissues can develop into whiplash associated disorders.  

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH): 

Whiplash associated disorders (WADs) is the term given for the collection of symptoms affecting the neck that are triggered by an accident with an acceleration–deceleration mechanism such as a motor vehicle accident

Examples of post-accident WAD include: 

  • Sore or stiff neck 
  • Pain that radiates into the jaw, shoulder and/or arms 
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Headaches 
  • Decreased range of motion in the neck, shoulder, upper back or arms 
  • Tingling or numbness in the shoulder or arms 
  • Insomnia (sleep problems) 
  • Anxiety 
  • Weakness in the arms 

An X-ray and soft-tissue scan may also show cervical fractures, compressed spinal disks, displaced spinal disks or other WADs that were not caught during the initial medical appointments. 

Auto Accident And Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help 

If you are experiencing WADs as a result of a car accident, we urge you to reach out to a Bay Area accident attorney.  

Reaching out to an attorney does not mean you will be involved in a courtroom battle and receive millions of dollars - although that may happen if the case calls for it.  Instead, the attorneys at Burneikis Law will handle the complicated negotiations with the insurance companies so you do not have to, in order to ensure that your medical bills are covered and that you are compensated for any previous, current, and future accident-related medical treatment and lost wages.   

Accident attorneys are trained to think big picture and long term to ensure our clients are not paying out of pocket for a single accident-related expense. 

Experiencing Post-Accident Symptoms? 

If you or someone you love is experiencing post-accident-related symptoms of whiplash, whiplash associated disorders or other injuries or trauma, protect the claim by contacting an experienced car accident attorney. 

We're Here For You

Burneikis Law is here to listen to your story and support you through the insurance claims and settlement process, taking over the complicated stuff so you can get back to the business of healing. Sometimes, all it takes to resolve a claim with a stubborn auto insurance carrier is a polite, but firm letter from a reputable accident attorney. 

Contact Burneikis Law to begin speaking to a trusted advocate today, (510) 328-3238.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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