Common Causes of Whiplash

During car accidents, drivers and other car occupants become vulnerable to many kinds of injuries, from minor bruises to severe harm, which can include broken bones, internal injuries, traumatic head injury, or injury to the spinal cord, face, or neck. The type of injury to the neck that car occupants most commonly sustain, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), is whiplash, which can refer to damaged ligaments, tendons, muscles and other soft tissues in the neck area.

Whiplash is caused by a sudden, forceful blow which causes the head to jolt back and forth or sideways. The movement of the neck that is caused by this force makes goes beyond the neck’s normal range of movement. As a result, the ligaments, tendons and muscles are overstretched. Being rear-ended by a speeding vehicle can definitely result to a serious whiplash injury; however, even vehicles running only between five and 10 miles per hour can already cause whiplash . In fact, most whiplash injuries are caused by vehicles running at said speeds.

About 120,000 individuals in the US sustain whiplash injuries each year. Generally, the symptoms of whiplash become manifest within hours of the accident; however, there are cases when symptoms are delayed for several days. Symptoms of whiplash include: headache at the base of the skull that radiates towards the forehead; nausea, dizziness, lack of energy, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, pain on the shoulder and arms, swelling at the neck area, and back pain.

While X-rays of the neck after an accident may be recommended, there is no assurance that this will show possible sustained injuries, especially a torn ligament. It is, therefore, very important that the injured be observant of the symptoms associated with whiplash.

The majority of rear-end crashes are due to tailgating, or inattentive or distracted driving. As made clear on the website of the Sampson Law Firm, tailgating another vehicle and allowing oneself to be distracted while behind the wheel are examples of reckless road behavior.