As any Joplin auto accident attorney knows, whiplash is the most common type of injury sustained in an auto accident. Whiplash is what is known as a soft tissue injury and it occurs nearly every 10 seconds in our country. Our Joplin auto accident attorney can explain what this type of injury is and help you to recover if you sustain this kind of injury following an auto accident.
Understanding What is Considered a Soft Tissue Injury
A “soft tissue” injury is essentially an injury that affects the supporting parts of the body but not the bones. In other words, soft tissues include tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles that are often torn or stretched beyond their natural limits. Soft tissue injuries most often cause pain, swelling, bleeding, and loss of function. A Joplin auto accident attorney is experienced with handling these types of claims.
Detecting Soft Tissue Injuries can be a Challenge
One of the challenges in cases involving soft tissue injuries is that they usually cannot be detected on x-rays. That means many people are not even aware that they have suffered this type of injury until they experience more obvious symptoms. Basically, the typical symptoms of a soft tissue injury can either appear immediately or make take hours or days to become noticeable. The most common symptoms of a soft tissue injury are pain and inflammation.
What is Whiplash Specifically?
As we said, one of the most common soft tissue injury following an auto accident is whiplash. The technical name for this injury is Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS). Neck pain from whiplash injuries is the most frequently reported injury. Even a small fender-bender can “whip” the head forward and then back with sufficient force to cause damage to the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the neck. Most whiplash injuries result from rear-end collisions. But, there are three personal factors that can contribute to the severity of the injury: gender, height, and seating position.
Joplin Auto Accident Attorney Recognize the Common Factors that Contribute to Whiplash Injuries
Studies show that women are a little more likely to suffer a neck injury in an auto accident and more likely to develop long term complications from such an injury. According to experts, the higher risk for women is attributed to the difference in the neck musculature of males and females. To put it another way, men on average have stronger neck muscles than women.
Seating positions also contribute to the risk of suffering a whiplash injury. Drivers are more often at a higher risk for whiplash than passengers because drivers tend to sit forward as opposed to back in their seats because they need to use the steering wheel and watch the road. Also, passengers sitting in the back seat typically have a lower risk for whiplash than everyone else in the vehicle.
The Height of the Victim and the Height of the Head Restraints
Height is also a factor in the risk of suffering a whiplash injury. The proximity of a person’s head’s to the head restraints in the vehicle make a difference. That means a shorter person will not have to adjust the head restraint to be protected. On the other hand, a taller person’s head may be too high to benefit from an unadjusted restraint, making them more susceptible to whiplash injuries. New height requirements for front seat head restraints have been imposed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Head restraints are not mandated for rear seats.
Head Restraint Positioning
The best position for head restraints is even with the top of the driver or passenger’s head. However, if the restraint cannot be adjusted to that height, it should be positioned at least 3.5 inches below the top of the head or level with the top of the ears. Also, the horizontal distance between the head and the restraint needs to be less than 4 inches. If necessary, the distance can be adjusted by changing the reclining angle of the seat.
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately Following an Auto Accident
Accidents happen, even to the best drivers. Regardless of how slight your injuries might seem to you, you need to seek medical attention as soon after an auto accident as you possibly can. Also, be sure to explain to your health care providers that you were involved in an auto accident. That includes describing exactly what happened and how your injuries were sustained. Many times, the victims of an auto accident do not experience pain right away, nor do they discover the full extent of their injuries until much later. Remember to tell your doctor that you were involved in a car accident and describe exactly what happened. Contacting a Joplin auto accident attorney is also a good idea in order to protect your rights as a victim.
If you have questions regarding auto accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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