THE TYPICAL MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT "WHIPLASH-TYPE" INJURY

By: Dan Baldyga

Every day a gazallion cars zoom along Americas highways and that number continues to increases at an incredible rate of speed. We’re all in a hurry. We drive too fast, follow to close and don’t pay attention anywhere near as much as we should. Because of this, year in and year out, motor vehicle accidents continue to multiply. Recent statistics show that more than 12 million Americans are treated each year for motor vehicle accident injuries. That number continues to increase like wildfire!

THE TYPICAL "WHIPLASH TYPE" INJURY: Approximately 40 to 45% of impacts are caused by the front of one vehicle plowing into the rear of another. This, more than anything else, causes the typical "Whiplash-Type" of tissue damaged injury.

Although tissue damage frequently occurs at the time of the accident, the "symptoms" may not show up right away. Tests reveal that when the front of a 3,500-pound car, traveling at only 10 miles per hour, strikes the rear of another vehicle, it can transmit a force of 25 tons to the motor vehicle it struck.

Few people realize that an untreated neck or back injury from a motor vehicle accident is likely to develop into arthritis in later years, adding more pain and disability. In fact, recent studies show that nearly 40% of Whiplash victims end up with arthritis within five years of the injury.

When you think of injuries, you think of high-speed accidents, but experts say "Whiplash" also happens in low speed crashes - - even when there’s no damage to the vehicle!

The force to the neck due to a shifting and snapping, forward and backward action, is often up to five times greater than the force of the collision itself, and (unfortunately) the use of seatbelts actually speeds up the "Whipping Motion" of the neck, causing even more injury.

YOU’RE RUSHED TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM: The typical Emergency Room is equipped to evaluate life-threatening conditions and provide emergency aid treatment only. The Emergency Room staff focuses on broken bones, hemorrhaging, internal injuries, and "Emergency Situations". Beyond that, there’s not much else they can do. Unfortunately, a lot of the damage done in a rear impact accident, does not show up in the Emergency Room x-rays. Very often it’s not until several hours (or even days!) later that the symptoms of a "Whiplash-Type" of injury becomes apparent.

TREATMENT: This type of an injury should be treated just as aggressively as a broken bone because the potential for long-term consequences can be greater in soft tissue injury than in broken bones. So, what happens to the soft tissue in an accident? The answer to that is even in a slow speed collision, the forces applied to bones, muscles, and joints of the body are clearly capable of inflicting significant injury. Almost all joints are pulled and twisted. Why? Because the body of the occupant is first accelerated forward in his seat. The head remains relatively stationary while the body moves forward underneath. This inflicts tremendous force on the neck. Then, just as the neck is stretched to (or even beyond) its normal limits, the torso has stopped its forward motion, the neck snaps back. When this takes place the head has accelerated up to five times the G-force of the impact - - and then back! Muscles and ligaments can be stretched beyond their breaking strength. Discs can be damaged. Nerve roots or the spinal cord can be injured permanently.

WILL A SOFT TISSUE INJURY HEAL ITSELF?: The answer to that is not a simple "Yes" or "No" because, without immediate and proper treatment, while it often does heal - - it can do so somewhat imperfectly! In one study, it was determined that with patients who had a Whiplash-Type of injury, 39-60% of them developed arthritis in the ensuing years.

In another famous study patients were interviewed more than two years following the settlement of their cases. Without the proper care, 45% continued to complain of ongoing pain and disability (in the area of their neck and/or shoulders) which was determined to be directly related to their accident.

WHAT TO DO? When you visit with your attending physician you should complain, complain and complain! (Don’t allow yourself to be conned with something like, "I’m sorry, I know it hurts but just wait awhile. It’ll go away"! That’s a hogwash of an answer).

You’re entitled to treatment by an "expert" and/or a team of them. Ask around (they’re out there) and you’ll find one. No matter how long it takes make sure, (when you’re finally released from treatment) that your "Whiplash-Type" injury has been completely repaired. If you don’t than you have only yourself to blame. _______________________________________________________________

This article was authored by Daniel Baldyga. Copyright © 2003, by Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved.

Reprinted with permission of the Daniel G. Baldyga.

DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this insurance claim article The Typical Motor Vehicle Accident "Whiplash-Type" Injury is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga or FreeAdvice.com make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR do they purport to engage in rendering any professional nor legal service; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY to obtain such services.