Have you walked away from a minor fender-bender, where your car doesn’t really look damaged, and wondered, do I have any real injuries? After auto accidents, particularly minor rear-end collisions, this is a common concern for clients. In fact, victims who feel almost unaffected by an auto accident, may be tempted to take a quick cash payment from the other driver,just to resolve the matter. Resist this temptation. It is possible that you suffered whiplash injuries and may be entitled to more substantial compensation.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury caused by the forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, similar to the cracking of a whip. Common signs and symptoms of a whiplash injury include neck pain, stiffness and headaches. Some people with whiplash will recover within a few months after treatment, such as, pain medication and physical therapy. Others may experience chronic neck pain and other ongoing symptoms, for a longer period of time.
What are the contributing factors?
While rear-end collisions lead to most whiplash injuries, there are three factors that may contribute to how severe the injury will be. Those factors are height, gender, and seating position. Height affects the proximity of the head to the head restraint in the vehicle. A shorter person is usually better protected. However, a taller person’s head may be too high to be protected by the restraint, unless the head restraint is properly adjusted. As far as gender, statistics show that women are slightly more likely to suffer a neck injury in an auto accident, and to develop long-term complications. This is because men, on average, have stronger neck muscles than women.
How the seating position of the victim affects the risk of whiplash
The driver is ordinarily at a much higher risk of sustaining a whiplash injury, because the driver tends to sit more forward in the seat. The driver is steering and watching the road, while passengers tend to sit back in their seats. Also, the front seat occupants are more likely to suffer whiplash than passengers in the rear.
The effect of head restraints on the likelihood of whiplash
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for establishing the height and positioning requirements for front seat head restraints in vehicles. The NHTSA requires that all head restraints are adjustable and able to lock into position. Head restraints are not required for rear seats, but if they are installed in a particular vehicle, they must also comply with the NHTSA standards for the front seat restraints.
How should I position my head restraint to minimize the risk of whiplash?
As far as head restraint positioning, the best position is even with the top of the head. If the restraint cannot be adjusted to that height, it should at least be positioned level with the top of the ears. Also, the distance between the head and the restraint should be less than four inches.
If you have questions regarding whiplash injuries, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
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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