Calculating from the above statistics, the average whiplash case is worth approximately $20,000. However, every accident is different. Amount of injuries sustained, damage to vehicles and other factors can make your case worth significantly more. Get your free consultation today. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another driver, you deserve compensation.
Whiplash is a general term used by people to describe an injury to the neck or back after an auto accident, or even a slip and fall accident. Although many people use the term, what does it really mean?
Whiplash refers to something that medical professionals and biomechanical experts call Flexion and Extension of the cervical spine (neck) and/or lumbar spine (low back).
Cervical Flexion is where head moves forward, causing the vertebrae in your spine to expand on the posterior side (back side) and compress on the anterior side (front). Extension is where the head moves backward causing your spine to compress on the posterior side (back side) and expand or elongate on your anterior side (front side).
The disks that are between the cervical vertebrae expand and contract with flexion and extension. The intersegmental ligaments and muscles, as well as posterior longitudinal ligaments and other structures all work in conjunction to help move your neck and head. It is similar with your lumbar spine as well. We all flex and extend our necks every day. In addition, we move our head from left to right and visa-versa. Doctors call this mechanism “rotation”. Finally, our heads are heavy, up to 10-12 pounds [kind of like a bowling ball on your neck]. This produces force straight down on your neck, which doctors call “compression”. All these forces are acting upon your neck at all times, even when you are sleeping, to varying degrees.
Whiplash could be seen as a traumatic acceleration of the movements beyond the normal capacity of the muscles, ligaments, and disks to handle the forces exerted as a result of a car accident, or slip and fall. In essence, our cervical or lumbar spines “hyperflex” or “hyperextend” beyond their normal limits, causing strains/sprains of our muscles and ligaments. Sprains and strains are terminology used to describe “tearing”, even if at a cellular level, of our muscles and ligaments. Our bodies were designed to take only so much force. Exceed the force exerted upon the muscles and ligaments, particularly at high rates of changes in velocity, and the ligaments and muscles will tear, developing pain, capillary bleeding, scar tissue, accelerated degeneration, or often a condition so severe that only surgery will repair the condition.
A flexion/extension MRI can detect the type of hyperflextion, extention and mobility caused by a car accident, even in a person who is experiencing symptoms but cannot readily see any problems on a static MRI. Below is an example where the spinal cord clearly compresses during flexion only. This is the type of injury that can be caused by a car accident, and can cause serious symptoms, including numbness and tingling down the arms or in the fingers.
Studies show that annular fiber tears on disks can happen with as little force as 3.5gs [measured in units of gravity]. This could be as little as 4-5mph based upon varying factors related to the change in velocity and the change in time. This is very little force, but it is applied at an awkward angle. Imagine somebody coming up behind you and pushing you between the shoulders when you were not expecting it. Your head would extend back and then go forward to catch up with your shoulders. Now think if this shove was by a 4,000 pound metal block, which is the average weight of a car. It is simply a much harder impact than most people think. People who are over the age of 30-40, depending on their degree of arthritis and degeneration, can therefore be very susceptible to whiplash, or traumatic injury to their cervical and lumbar disks, even at low rates of speed in car accidents. This is particularly true for those who already have a partially degenerated disk or disks. It doesn’t take much to aggravate the condition and/or permanently set the patient into a rapid state of decline with multiple torn annular fibers. Studies show that there is a significant increase in the rate of degenerative changes seen in patient populations that have been in auto accidents, including minor auto accidents. As many as 50% of people who have been even a minor auto accident experience pain in their cervical or lumbar spines ten years after the accident.
Insurance companies have long known the above. They argue that people could not be injured in light impact cases. The industry has a name for mild impact cases: “Mild Impact Soft Tissue” or MIST cases. Many attorneys won’t take MIST cases because the insurance carriers will often spend more in expert fees than the case is worth. The insurance companies use defense experts who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year testifying for insurance defense companies. They treat people who claim Whiplash injuries like gold diggers, fakers, liars, or whiners. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the right objective diagnostic studies, our firm can show where the person is injured to a jury, and help them understand the science, medicine, and bio-mechanical mechanism for these injuries. Human beings were simply not designed to take serious flexion/extension impacts to their spines unexpectedly. Surprisingly, many lawyers simply do not understand the medicine and science well enough to fight the insurance carriers on Whiplash injuries. We will.
Our whiplash-accident team is ready to take your information and present your potential case to our most experienced personal injury trial attorneys. We play hardball like no other firm and fight to maximize the compensation you receive. Contact us today for your free whiplash case evaluation.