Whiplash Injuries After an Accident In Clearwater, Florida
Car accidents can lead to several significant injuries. Some of them, however, may prove less evident than others. For example, whiplash injuries after a car accident in Clearwater, Florida may not seem apparent to the people not involved in the accident. However, whiplash can cause limitations and may even require long-term medical treatment.
How Does Whiplash Occur During a Car Accident?
Whiplash occurs when the abrupt force of an accident causes the head to jerk back and forth rapidly. It causes the muscles and tendons in the neck to stretch quickly, which may result in small tears. Whiplash may occur for several reasons.
Many rear-end collisions result in whiplash because they create the perfect storm of force that can cause the head to move in ways likely to cause these devastating injuries. Rear-end collisions often cause the head to snap forward quickly, then backward into the seat as the victim hits the restraining seatbelt. Rear-end collisions can occur anywhere but may have a higher risk at dangerous intersections like SR 60 and Belcher Road or U.S. 10 and Drew Street.
Inadequate Head and Neck Support
Many vehicles do not offer adequate head and neck support for all passengers. Short passengers, whose heads may not reach the right spot on the headrest, and tall passengers, who may have no neck support, may have a greater risk of suffering whiplash injuries in a car accident. Many vehicle designers do not provide adequate head and neck support for all passengers, which may increase the risk of whiplash injuries.
Gender and Body Composition
Female drivers are more likely to suffer from whiplash injuries than male drivers. They may generally have less muscle mass in the neck, which can cause more severe injury in the event of many types of accidents. Crash testing performed on male dummies, the most common method, may not offer an adequate look at what will happen to a female body in the event of a crash.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash can cause a great deal of suffering. Even minor cases of whiplash can cause neck pain and stiffness. That pain may worsen with neck movement, making it very difficult for patients with whiplash to engage in their normal daily activities. Furthermore, they may notice a loss of overall range of motion, making it difficult for patients to turn their heads or engage in normal activities.
Whiplash can also cause considerable pain, including headaches or pain in the shoulders, arms, and back. It may also lead to feelings of tingling or numbness, weakness in the arms or hands, or dizziness. These symptoms can interfere substantially with daily life, meaning that patients with whiplash may have to take it easy for a long time before returning to normal.
For most patients with whiplash, pain and weakness will resolve within a few weeks. However, some patients may note more severe symptoms and more ongoing pain.
Some patients may note that pain lingers long after the initial whiplash injury, which may cause intense suffering for the victim. In addition, some patients may notice a severely limited range of motion, which can interfere with the ability to return to work or resume normal activities. Some patients may have ongoing chronic pain after a whiplash injury.
Treatment for Whiplash
Most of the time, doctors start treating whiplash by recommending rest, heat or cold, and over-the-counter pain medications, all of which can help ease the immediate symptoms of whiplash and allow the body to recover. However, patients with extreme cases of whiplash may require additional treatment.
Those patients may need:
- Prescription pain relievers and muscle relaxants. Prescription medications can make it much easier to manage pain symptoms, but they may also add to the cost of recovery for the patient.
- Injections to alleviate pain. Injections intended to relieve pain can numb the injured area and make it possible for patients with whiplash to complete physical therapy without making symptoms worse.
- Physical therapy. Patients with severe whiplash, especially those with chronic symptoms, may need physical therapy to alleviate those symptoms and improve overall functionality.
Treatment for whiplash may vary by patient. Patients with chronic pain from whiplash injuries after a car accident in Clearwater may need more treatment than patients with only minor symptoms that resolve fairly well on their own.
Seeking Compensation for Whiplash Injuries
When you suffer whiplash injuries in Florida, it may not take long before you start noticing the financial challenges that go along with your injuries. Many patients note substantial medical expenses, especially if they require physical therapy or considerable testing to rule out more serious injuries.
Do you have the right to pursue compensation for whiplash injuries? Consider these factors.
Florida’s No-fault Policy
Florida has a no-fault policy when it comes to car accident injuries. Instead of requiring the insurance company of the party that caused the accident to cover the cost of treatment, Florida’s no-fault policy notes that each driver who owns and operates a motor vehicle in the state must carry PIP, or personal injury protection, coverage. That no-fault policy means that if you suffer minor whiplash injuries in an accident, you will need to use your PIP coverage to cover the cost of treatment rather than pursuing compensation from the liable party’s insurance.
Exceptions to the No-fault Policy
Florida’s no-fault law means that people injured in a car accident will generally need to use their insurance policy to cover the cost of medical treatment. However, in cases where your accident causes permanent disability, you may have the right to file a claim for compensation against the liable party’s insurance policy.
If you suffer a permanent disability due to whiplash, including a limited range of motion or chronic pain, talk to a lawyer to learn about your rights and determine whether you should file a car accident claim to help you seek compensation after your accident.
How to Cover the Cost of Treatment For Whiplash
Under Florida’s no-fault law, Florida drivers must carry their own PIP insurance to operate a motor vehicle legally. Minimum PIP insurance provides up to 80 percent coverage for the first $10,000 medical expenses sustained due to a car accident in Florida.
You may have a specific deductible and coverage limit based on the policy you chose when you took out your auto insurance. PIP insurance may also provide compensation for any wages lost because of your whiplash injuries since whiplash may prevent you from returning to work or working your usual hours for some time.
If you have chronic whiplash injuries, your personal health insurance can also help with the ongoing cost of treatment for whiplash, including physical therapy. If you have extreme injuries and permanent disability because of whiplash, you may have the right to file a compensation claim.
When Do You Need a Lawyer to Help With a Clearwater Whiplash Claim?
Always call a lawyer after any car accident claim involving whiplash. Your PIP insurance may cover the cost of treatment for minor whiplash injuries, particularly if you do not need long-term medical treatment.
Your Insurance Company Denies Coverage for Treatments Associated With Whiplash.
Most of the time, when you deal with your own insurance company after an accident, you will have fewer problems with your claim than you would if you were dealing with another party’s insurance company. PIP insurance is generally more straightforward since you will not have to wait for a complicated investigation to assign liability for the accident. However, your insurance company may sometimes make it more difficult than anticipated to deal with a claim. Your insurance company may try to deny coverage for your treatment for several reasons.
Your insurance company may claim that you suffered injuries outside of a car accident.
PIP insurance only kicks in when you suffer injuries in a car accident. While whiplash typically results from rear-end collisions and other car accidents involving a great deal of force, whiplash can also occur due to sports injuries or abuse. Some other types of accidents, including slip and fall accidents, may also cause symptoms of whiplash. Your insurance company may attempt to claim that your injuries, rather than occurring due to a car accident, resulted from some other type of accident.
A lawyer can help establish when your injuries took place. If necessary, a lawyer can connect you with an expert witness who can more clearly lay out how your accident likely occurred and what factors probably contributed to whiplash injuries.
Your insurance company attempts to claim that you did not suffer whiplash.
Whiplash symptoms can prove hard to measure. Your doctor may order imaging tests after you suffer whiplash in a car accident. Those tests usually aim to prove that you did not suffer a more serious injury rather than trying to come up with evidence of your whiplash symptoms or the associated damage.
Whiplash injuries generally do not show up on those tests. As a result, while you may need considerable care after your accident, your insurance company can try to prove that you did not really sustain whiplash in the accident.
Your insurance company might attempt to claim that you suffered no injury in the accident and that, as a result, you do not need compensation for lost income. Or your insurance company might attempt to claim that you did not really need to see a physical therapist and that, therefore, the company should not have to cover that treatment.
A lawyer can help collect medical evidence, including testimony from your doctor, that can help establish that you did suffer whiplash in the accident and that you did require those treatments to help with your symptoms.
Your insurance company tries to deny the extent of your injuries.
Dealing with serious whiplash injuries can prove incredibly frustrating. Insurance companies often refuse to accept your injuries’ full extent. The insurance company may, for example, claim that you may have suffered minor whiplash but that your injuries did not prevent you from returning to work soon after the incident.
If you needed long-term physical therapy to help cope with whiplash injuries, the insurance company might try to deny that you needed those ongoing treatments. The insurance company may even try to claim that you have limited your recovery by engaging in activities that may have made whiplash worse.
On the other hand, a lawyer can help fight for the full compensation you deserve following whiplash injuries, including assistance with ongoing treatment.
You Suffer Permanent Disability Because of Your Whiplash Injuries.
In cases of chronic pain and disability related to a whiplash injury, you may have the right to pursue compensation from the party that caused your accident. A lawyer can help you determine whether you may have the right to file an injury claim against the party that caused your accident. Working with a lawyer can also help increase the odds that you will recover reasonable compensation from the other party’s insurance company.
You Have Questions About Your Claim.
Any time you have questions about what compensation you may deserve after a car accident, including how to navigate the complexities that may go along with PIP insurance, a lawyer can help answer those questions. You can start with a free consultation that will help give you a better idea of what to expect as you navigate your claim.
Did you suffer whiplash injuries due to another party’s negligence? Contact an attorney today to discuss your rights.