Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in vehicle accidents, often occurring due to a rear-end collision. What may seem like a little neck pain can quickly develop into something more serious.
If you are experiencing neck pain from a vehicle or other type of accident caused by another person, consider speaking to an experienced Pensacola whiplash attorney about your options for compensation. The team at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon understands how important it is to assert your rights and ensure the negligent party is held responsible.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck which may also be considered a neck sprain or strain. These injuries occur when the body is forced in one direction and the head and neck follow at a slow speed. The change in velocity between the body and head places severe strain on the muscles and soft tissue as they pull apart and snap back without control. This motion can damage intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. Symptoms may be present immediately or take days to surface.
The symptoms of whiplash vary from person to person depending on a number of factors including speed and angle of the collision, size of the person, the direction they were facing, posture, and more.
Common symptoms include:
- Neck pain,
- Neck stiffness,
- Myofascial injuries,
- Paresthesia (abnormal burning or prickling sensation), and
- Shoulder or back pain.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, some people may experience cognitive, somatic, or psychological conditions correlating with whiplash such as memory loss, nervousness, irritability, concentration impairment, depression, or sleep disturbances.
Soft tissue injuries like whiplash cannot always be detected using imaging diagnostics like x-rays or CT scans, but they may be necessary to rule out other injuries. The doctor will examine your range of motion, pain points, reflexes, sensation in limbs, and other factors to diagnose the injury. Make sure to keep accurate records of all medical expenses and appointments.
Depending on your case, your Pensacola whiplash attorney may request the doctor’s expert opinion on your condition.
Treatment for Whiplash
The goals of treating whiplash are to control the pain, restore normal range of motion through your neck, shoulders, and back, and get you back to participating in normal activities. Individual treatment will vary according to the severity of the injury.
Treatment may include:
- Hot or cold compresses applied to the neck in 15-minute increments multiple times a day for a certain period of time;
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications depending on pain levels;
- Muscle relaxants to loosen tight muscles and restore normal sleep patterns;
- Injections such as lidocaine to numb the area to decrease pain for specific tasks such as guided mobility activities;
- Specific home exercises as instructed by a doctor;
- Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and restore normal movement; and
- Soft foam collars (in moderation) to limit mobility for short periods of time.
Treatments can be expensive and add up quickly. Keep track of all injury-related expenses so that your Pensacola whiplash lawyer can make sure you are not settling for less than you deserve.
Filing a Claim for Whiplash in Pensacola
Your initial step is to seek compensation through your own auto insurance. All Florida drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance under Florida law with a minimum of $10,000 coverage on the policy. PIP insurance acts as an extension of your auto insurance policy and covers some medical expenses incurred after an auto accident, regardless of who caused the accident.
If your medical costs exceed the $10,000 PIP maximum coverage, you may seek additional compensation for economic losses from the at-fault party. Additionally, if your injuries are serious under Florida law—disfigurement, permanent injury, or death—you can seek compensation for all your damages, including pain and suffering.
In this case, your whiplash attorney in Pensacola will go to work filing the complaint, gathering evidence from the accident, and preparing your case for litigation. It is important to know that the Florida statute of limitations only allows you to file a claim for up to four years after the injury occurred.
It is important to remember that insurance companies are not in the business of offering larger settlements than they can get away with. A quick offer may seem convenient but could leave you without enough funds to cover your expenses. A lawyer for whiplash in Pensacola can negotiate on your behalf and help ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Choosing a Pensacola Whiplash Attorney
Whiplash is painful, and you shouldn’t have to suffer more than you already have. The team at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon can negotiate with insurance adjusters to get the most out of your PIP coverage—all the while looking ahead to other coverage available. Experience and expertise matter when it comes to personal injury law in Florida. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.