Whiplash is a soft tissue injury caused by a sudden extension and retraction of the neck. This injury can occur in many ways, but it is often associated with car accidents since the force of the crash can jerk your head forward and backward. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has stated that whiplash is the most frequently reported car accident injury in the U.S.
The symptoms of whiplash can linger for months and severely impact your life. Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk of suffering whiplash in the event of a crash.
How to Prevent Whiplash in Car Accidents
There are several steps you should take before hitting the road in order to reduce your risk of sustaining whiplash in a crash. First, take a few moments to adjust your headrest. As its name suggests, the headrest should be positioned directly behind your head while you are riding in a vehicle. The top of the headrest should be at the same level as the top of your head. If you are tall, the headrest may not extend to the top of your head. In this case, simply raise the headrest as far as it will go. If you are short, the headrest may be above the top of your head even when it is in the lowest position. This is perfectly fine as long as it has lowered as far as possible.
You should also sit back in your seat so there is as little space as possible between the back of your head and the headrest. You may need to adjust the recline angle on your seat to make this happen. According to the Whiplash Prevention Campaign, the seat should be inclined to less than a 20-degree angle. This slight angle keeps your body in place in the event of a crash, so your neck may not jerk forward and backward. A headrest that is within a few inches of the back of your head is twice as effective in preventing whiplash, so this is an important step to follow every time you get into a car.
Wearing your seatbelt can also reduce your risk of sustaining whiplash and other serious injuries in a crash. However, the seatbelt must be worn correctly or it will not be effective. Many people adjust the shoulder belt so it is behind their back instead of across their chest. This adjustment may make the seatbelt more comfortable, but it reduces its effectiveness. Wear the seatbelt properly so it can hold your body in place and minimize movement in a crash.
Even if you follow all of these steps, it’s possible that you will still suffer whiplash if you are hit by another vehicle. If this happens, it’s important that you know exactly what to do to protect yourself and your rights as a car accident victim.
I Sustained Whiplash in a Car Accident. What Should I Do?
No matter how minor the crash is, call 9-1-1 right away. If someone is seriously injured, ask the dispatcher to send an ambulance. Otherwise, simply tell the dispatcher you will need a police officer to come to the scene to take a report.
You may not need emergency medical treatment at the scene of the crash. But, it’s in your best interest to seek medical attention immediately following a crash—even if you are not experiencing any pain or discomfort yet. The adrenaline that is rushing through your body after a car accident can mask pain, so the symptoms of an injury may not appear until hours or days after the crash. Seek medical attention right away so a doctor can examine, diagnose, and treat your injuries.
Before leaving the scene of the accident, it’s important to take pictures of the crash. Photograph the vehicles, including the way they are positioned and the damage that occurred as a result of the impact. You should also take pictures of your surroundings to capture traffic lights, signs, and debris that may be in the road. All of these photos are vital to your personal injury case.
If anyone saw the accident occur, try to make contact with them prior to leaving the scene. Ask for their contact information and a brief description of what they saw. Their testimony may be used to prove that the other driver was at fault for the crash. You will also need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers involved in the accident. When speaking to other parties at the scene, do not discuss the details of the accident. You may accidentally end up taking responsibility for the crash or telling the other parties that you are not injured, which can hurt your personal injury claim.
After you have been treated for your injuries, seek legal representation from a personal injury attorney. If the accident occurred due to another driver’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for your whiplash injury. But first, you must convince the at-fault party’s insurance company that you deserve compensation. An attorney can ensure the insurance company does not try to blame you for the accident by presenting evidence that clearly shows their policyholder is at fault. A personal injury attorney can also calculate the value of your claim and negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement.
Are you suffering from whiplash as a result of another driver’s negligence? If so, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Our team of personal injury attorneys will work tirelessly to recover the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Let us handle the legal aspects of your case so you can focus solely on your recovery.