Car Accident Rear Ended And Have Whiplash: Now What?
If you were in a car accident and rear ended and have whiplash you may have a serious injury that leaves you suffering from chronic pain and disability. Unfortunately, too many insurance companies misunderstand the nature of this injury which results in them settling victims’ cases for far less than what this potentially permanent injury warrants.
An experienced lawyer can help you get the pain and suffering compensation and No-Fault benefits to pay medical expenses and lost wages that you are legally entitled to.
What is whiplash?
This an injury to a person’s neck muscles and ligaments that is caused by the trauma of the person being an occupant in a vehicle that was rear ended by another vehicle. The sudden impact of the rear end collision causes a person’s head to violently “whip” backward and forward.
How serious is a car accident where you are rear ended and you now suffer from whiplash?
A car accident where you are rear ended and now suffer whiplash is a very serious injury that can involve chronic pain and long-term or permanent disability. The average victim still suffers from significant pain from from this type of injury more than eight years later.
Pain and suffering compensation for a car accident where you are rear ended and now have whiplash
If you have suffered a car accident rear ended whiplash, then you may be able to recover pain and suffering damages as well as excess medical expenses and lost wages and other economic damages from the at-fault driver who caused the rear end car accident.
Under the legal threshold of Michigan’s No-Fault law, you will need to show that you suffered a “serious impairment of body function” as a result of your injuries from the rear end car accident in order to recover pain and suffering compensation.
Excess medical expenses and excess lost wages are economic damages you may be able to recover if your medical bills and lost income are not covered by the policy you claimed No-Fault benefits through and/or they exceed the limits in the No-Fault law.
You have three years after a car accident where you are rear ended and suffer from whiplash to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation. (MCL 600.5805(2))
You can recover No-Fault PIP benefits after a car accident rear ended whiplash that will help pay for your medical bills, lost wages (if your injuries disabled you from working), transportation and mileage costs for traveling to and from doctor appointments as well as household replacement services and attendant care services.
Unlike pain and suffering compensation, No-Fault benefits are available after a car accident rear ended whiplash “without regard to fault,” which means you do not have to prove the other driver was at-fault in order to receive No-Fault benefits. (MCL 500.3105(2))
To start receiving No-Fault benefits after a car accident where you were rear ended and now have whiplash, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called a “written notice of injury” – with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
If you do not file this application within one year of your rear end car accident, then you will forever lose your right to claim and sue for No-Fault benefits.
What to do for a car accident rear ended whiplash
If you were in a car accident and rear ended and now suffer from whiplash, follow these steps:
- Get examined immediately: Time may be of the essence. When it comes to properly diagnosing the cause of your injury, the sooner a person gets the proper diagnostic tests and medical treatment for these symptoms, the sooner they can get the necessary treatment and care. As an injury lawyer, I always advise people that the sooner they can get the necessary and appropriate medical care, the sooner they can get back on the road to good health and a full recovery, but with this type of injury the key is to rule out a much more serious injury as soon as possible.
- Get medical treatment and get a referral for the appropriate diagnostic imaging to detect and diagnose if you have suffered from this injury.
- Early documentation of the car accident where you were rear ended and now have whiplash always makes it easier to avoid future problems with your own insurance company. Early medical documentation, such as in an emergency room or as soon as possible with your family doctor, will prove to a health insurance company or a No-Fault insurance company that the crash was the cause of your injury. If it does turn out to be a more serious injury, you have documented the early symptoms and again will be able to avoid many of the problems that arise when an insurance company is denying a causal relationship and refusing to pay for medical treatment. Early treatment and medical documentation create the temporal relationship that insurance companies will be looking for when they are being asked to pay for necessary medical care.
- Showing a clear temporal relationship between a crash and the documentation of treatment for a condition or injury also makes it easier to get a full and fair legal settlement for your injury when it is caused by another driver’s carelessness or negligence behind the wheel. Delays in seeking treatment hurt your ability to get better faster and make a good recovery, but it also often makes it harder for your attorney to get a reluctant insurance company to pay for your treatment and makes it harder to get a fair legal settlement after your crash.
- Do not try to “tough it out”: this injury may be a symptom of a far more serious injury that may even become fatal if you don’t seek treatment right away. As a lawyer, I have seen so many instances where people felt like they didn’t want to “complain,” but within days or weeks what they thought would be a minor injury or something that would go away becomes far more serious.
- Talk to an attorney who is experienced at helping people injured in motor vehicle crashes. Most experienced lawyers have helped people suffering from this injury after a crash. The initial call is always free so at the very least you will be informed as to what your insurance company is responsible to pay and what medical help and wage loss you are entitled to. An attorney can also help you review your medical records as well as the treatment and care you are receiving to make sure bills are getting paid and they can use a settlement calculator to help you assess what your case might be worth if your pain and disability was caused by another driver’s negligence or carelessness.
- Tell your auto insurance company about your car accident where you are rear ended and now have whiplash. If you live in Michigan, make sure to include this in your application for No-Fault benefits, which is also referred to as your “written notice of injury” – which must be given to your No-Fault auto insurance company “within 1 year after the accident.” (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))
- Do not sign any settlements, releases, or waivers related to your crash: Until you have talked with an experienced attorney who is looking out for your interests, do not sign any settlements, releases, or waivers that are presented to you by your auto insurance company, the at-fault driver’s auto insurer or any other insurance companies or persons.
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain worsens with movement
- Diminished range of motion in the neck
- Tenderness in neck, shoulders and upper back
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sleep disturbances
- Diagnostic testing
Because this injury involves injury to the neck muscles and ligaments, it is not as easily detected by conventional diagnostic testing as other injuries – such as spinal cord injuries – may be.
This reinforces the importance of seeking prompt medical attention for whiplash after a car accident so a doctor can perform a thorough physical examination to properly diagnose your condition.
Treatment options for a car accident where you were rear ended and now have whiplash include:
- Chiropractic treatment
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Muscle relaxants
- Epidural injections to block pain impulses and allow tissue to heal
- Cervical collar or neck brace
It is not uncommon for injured victims to experience traumatic arthritis, nerve root compression, neuritis of the neck, shoulder, and arm, as well as extreme nervousness and fatigue during their recovery process from a car accident where you are rear ended and now have whiplash.
Whiplash victims are also frequently more susceptible and vulnerable to future neck injuries from jolts and shocks.
Need help? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law
If you have suffered whiplash after a car accident and would like to speak to an experienced injury attorney, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by emailing [email protected] or you can use the chat feature on our website.