Understanding Rear End Accidents and Whiplash Injuries

The most common accident scenario, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the rear-end accident. This type of accident is responsible for nearly 1/3 of all car accidents.  

A common misconception is that rear-end accidents don’t cause serious injuries, and that these claims are of little value. A collision should never be labeled as “just a rear-end crash,” as every accident is different and some rear-end collisions cause permanent injury, and even wrongful death.  

Rear-end crashes often cause whiplash, which is a broad term to describe injuries caused by a rapid backward and forward movement of the neck, similar to cracking a whip. A whiplash injury is frequently associated with rear-end accidents, but can result from any type of collision. Another common misconception is that whiplash accidents only occur in high speed accidents. Multiple studies have determined that low speed collisions can cause serious injuries. 

If you are in a car that is struck from behind, your body is immediately thrown forward, with your head trailing behind. Your head will be thrown back, which will stretch and possibly tear ligaments, muscles, tendons. This injury is essentially invisible – occurring without any signs of bruising, swelling, or scarring.  A diagnosis is not usually made by a CT scan, MRI or X-ray, but rather by asking a patient how they feel. These imaging scans are sometimes used to rule out other injuries, such as a cervical fracture. 

Always Go to the Emergency Room After a Rear-End Accident 

In the immediate minutes and hours after a car crash, whiplash may not be felt.  Symptoms may not show up until you wake up the next morning, experiencing severe neck pain, back pain stiffness, loss of range of motion, pain and tenderness. Some patients report blurry vision, insomnia, ringing in the ears, difficulty concentrating, irritability, memory problems, and depression. 

Many people will evaluate how they feel to determine if they go to the hospital after an accident. If a whiplash event is suspected, you are well-advised to seek medical treatment immediately. Your visit to the doctor (and record of it) is important for your own health and well-being, as well as for your personal injury claim. 

Don’t Accept an Immediate Settlement Offer Without Talking to a Lawyer First 

It may be surprising how quickly an insurance company will want to pay out (and close out) a claim. Insurance adjusters will be eager to settle your claim – if it’s for a low amount, because you are permanently waiving all rights to any future compensation. 

In the immediate hours or days following an accident, it is impossible to know how your injuries may affect you. Will you have pain in two weeks, or two months? Will you experience severe headache? If you do not get evaluated by a medical professional it may be impossible to know. Accepting a quick Tampa car accident settlement can mean receiving far less compensation than you are entitled to. Always speak with a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.

Get a Free Consultation With The Coleman Law Group 

The Coleman Law Group offers a free consultation to review your case and answer your questions. If you have been injured in a car accident in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Land O’ Lakes, Sarasota, or Lakeland, contact us to discuss your case. All consultations are free and we are only paid if we recover money for you.