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Whiplash After Car Accident: What You Need To Know

Whiplash After Car Accident FAQs

Whiplash after a car accident is a serious injury. For the 250,000 victims who suffer from this injury each year, it frequently results in chronic pain and disability. It’s essential that victims know what this injury is, its symptoms and what they need to do to get treatment that will help with their recovery.

Unfortunately, too many personal injury lawyers and insurance companies misunderstand the nature of these injuries and, thus, minimize their severity and debilitating effects.

As a result, this type of injury is mistakenly treated as a minor personal injury. Consequently, victims are denied the justice and compensation they’re entitled to when their cases are settled for far less than what this potentially very serious and permanent injury warrants.

What is whiplash after a car accident?

Whiplash after a car accident is an injury to a person’s neck muscles and ligaments. Rear-end collision are the most common cause of this injury. It occurs when the sudden impact of one car crashing into another causes a person’s head to violently “whip” backward and then forward.

Is it a serious injury?

Absolutely. The average victim is still suffering from significant pain from this type of injury more than eight years later.

What to do for whiplash after a car accident

If you suffered whiplash after a car accident, follow these steps:   

  1. Get examined immediately: Time may be of the essence. When it comes to properly diagnosing the cause of this injury after a collision, the sooner a person gets the proper diagnostic tests and medical treatment for these symptoms, the sooner they can rule out a potentially life-threatening injury. 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. 
  2. Get medical treatment and get a referral for the appropriate diagnostic imaging to detect and diagnose if you have suffered from this injury. A doctor can’t treat you until he or she knows what is causing these symptoms, and the appropriate diagnostic testing – often a CT scan – will enable your doctor to prescribe the best course of treatment for you and make the appropriate referrals for you. 
  3. Early documentation of whiplash after a car accident 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’ve 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. Don’t 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’ve 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.  
  6. 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’re receiving to make sure bills are getting paid and they can use a car accident 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. 
  7. Tell your auto insurance company about your whiplash after a car accident. 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))
  8. 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.

How to claim for whiplash after car accident

In Michigan, you start your claim for whiplash after a car accident by filing an application for No-Fault benefits with the responsible auto insurance company, according to the No-Fault law’s “priority” rules. The No-Fault insurer will pay for your medical bills and your lost wages if you cannot return to work.

Can I sue for whiplash after a car accident?

Yes. If your auto insurance company refuses to pay for – or cuts-off – No-Fault benefits related to the injury you suffered, then you can sue for unpaid, overdue medical bills, attendant care, medical mileage, replacement services and lost wages because your injuries have prevented you from returning to work.

You can also sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering compensation as a result of your collision-related injuries, but you will first have to show that the other driver was at-fault for causing the crash and that your back pain constitutes a “serious impairment of body function” under our auto law.

Additionally, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for other economic damages, such as excess and future medical bills and lost wages.

What causes this injury to happen?

Whiplash after a car accident – especially rear-end collisions – are the most common cause of this injury.


If any of the following symptoms are observed then Michigan victims who have been seriously injured in a rear-end collision may be suffering from this injury:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Pain worsens with movement
  • Diminished range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Tenderness in neck, shoulders and upper back
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Depression

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 this injury 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
  • Surgery


Unfortunately, the road to recovery for whiplash after a car accident is not always straight or smooth. 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. Additionally, injured victims are frequently more susceptible to further neck injuries from jolts and shocks.

Need help for whiplash after a car accident? 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 (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.