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. Let our Joplin personal injury lawyer explain whiplash injuries.
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 more questions, our Joplin personal injury lawyer can help.
Proving damages in a personal injury case
Every legal claim is different, both factually and with regard to the laws that apply. As your Joplin personal injury lawyer understands, one of the most important factors in determining the value of a personal injury claim is the nature of the actual injuries. The purpose of a damages award in a personal injury case is to make the victim “whole.” This basically means compensating the victim for everything was lost as a result of the accident or injury. The only way to do accomplish that is through a monetary award.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases
In most personal injury cases, the injured party will seek compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of their injuries. This is the primary component of damages in a personal injury case. Reimbursement for medical treatment typically includes compensation for treatment already received, as well as the estimated costs of any medical care that may be required in the future. Additionally, the injuries suffered can have a substantial impact on the victim’s ability to return to work, either temporarily or permanently. In that case, damages may include future income.
Be sure to seek medical treatment after an Injury
One key element of every personal injury case is your “medical damages.” That simply means the amount of expenses you incurred seeking medical diagnoses and treatment for your injuries. This amount makes up a large part of your total damages in a personal injury case. The way your damages are calculated depends on several factors, including the type of medical treatment you receive and the type of medical providers who rendered that treatment. For this reason, obtaining medical treatment after a personal injury can have a huge impact on your personal injury claim.
If you have questions regarding whiplash injuries 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) 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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