Whiplash effects can impact a person’s life long after the accident
As we have discussed throughout our whiplash series this month, whiplash injuries heal within a matter of weeks or months for most people. However, for some people, more severe whiplash effects can last for much longer and require more intensive treatment.
One of our clients, Cassandra*, age 22, suffered an injury after a car accident in Denver during 2010. A distracted driver looked away from the road to check his phone. He rear-ended the car behind Cassandra, which then slammed into her car.
She suffered immediate injuries, and an ambulance transported her to the ER for treatment. She complained of neck stiffness while at the ER, and she began to experience headaches and dizziness almost immediately after the accident. Additional symptoms included fatigue and difficulty sleeping, and neither rest nor medication alleviated any of these whiplash effects.
Grading Whiplash Injuries
Cassandra opted to seek treatment from a chiropractor, and that professional diagnosed her with a Grade 3 Whiplash Injury (on a scale of 0 to 5). According to the Whiplash Resource Center, Grade 3 whiplash includes the following symptoms:
“Grade 3 whiplash injury is where you begin to have damage to the supporting ligaments in the spine. There is significant restriction in your range of motion due to muscle spasm and damage and radiating pain into the arms and legs may be present, indicating some possible nerve injury as well. There is usually a severe stretch and actual tearing and separation of the muscle tissue, and there may be some internal bleeding within the muscle tissue itself.
It is at Grade 3 that significant scarring and fibrotic changes begin to he seen in the injured muscles. Because of the damage to the ligaments, your spine may lose some of its stability, resulting in a predisposition for re-injury in the future.”
According to the WRC, a Grade 3 whiplash injury usually requires a year or more of ongoing treatment; daily treatment immediately after treatment, followed by one to three treatments per week for the first six months. If the issue becomes chronic, a patient may be moved to the Grade 4 category.
In Cassandra’s case, she also sought medical care from a neurosurgeon who diagnosed her with cervical instability. One of the most severe whiplash injuries, cervical instability includes the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain when you move your neck
- A sensation that your neck won’t be able to hold up your head
- Spasms in the muscles of the neck and upper back
- Balance issues and trouble with coordination
- Ringing in the ears
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers or arms
Cassandra’s neurosurgeon confirmed that her condition resulted directly from the car accident with the distracted driver.
In addition, she sustained nerve damage in two of her teeth, which required root canal surgery.
Settling the Case
Due to the extent of her injury and related complications, and the level of treatment required for such a severe whiplash injury, Cassandra’s medical bills rang in at more than $145,000.
We represented her in reaching a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, as well as her own insurance carriers. Her final settlement, which included policy limits for all applicable insurance policies, totaled $525,000.
A car accident can change someone’s life drastically, and access to the right medical care and insurance coverage can make all the difference in restoring quality of life. We were honored to help Cassandra and other like her who have dealt with the sometimes severe effects of whiplash. As you can see from Cassandra’s story, whiplash cases can be incredibly complex, which is why it’s important to seek help from a skilled attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
*Name changed for privacy
If you have been injured in a car accident and need legal representation, contact us for a free case evaluation.