What is Whiplash and How to Treat it After a Car Accident?

One of the worst things about whiplash is that you may not feel it right away.

The adrenalin of a frightening accident, other injuries or concerns about the condition of your passengers or vehicle, and the fact that some soft tissue injuries aren’t detected right away, can mean that your neck, shoulders and head truly may actually feel fine immediately following a collision.

However, telling people you’re not feeling all that bad and that you’re going home to rest are two of the biggest “don’ts” in these situations, and may even count as ‘please do’s’ to the other driver or drivers, their insurance company or their attorneys, because these actions can give them, not you, a little more leverage in a legal dispute.

But first let’s look at what whiplash is really is, since although a common injury, people aren’t quite clear about the mechanics of it.

According to the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, whiplash takes place when sudden acceleration and deceleration causes the head to snap backwards and forwards quickly. In a traffic situation, it accounts for 60-70 percent of reported accident-related injuries, and can come from side- or rear-impact collisions.

Over time, especially if untreated, whiplash can cause injuries that can last for years and continue to get worse, including muscle pain, vision problems, alignment problems, headaches, and nerve damage.

If you believe you may have sustained whiplash in the Vancouver area, it’s important for any future claims, and suggested ICBC protocol, that you take certain steps.

  • Get standard collision information. Like any accident, get the basic details of the other party or parties, their vehicle information and any insurance information. Witness information will also be useful. But don’t sign anything or share the possibility of whiplash, especially if the pain hasn’t hit yet.
  • Visit a primary health provider. Instead of going to a walk-in clinic or general physician office, visit someone who is familiar with you and your previous medical history. Alert him or her to the possibility of whiplash – this let them look closer for this condition and also creates a record for it in your chart.
  • Continue to visit the same doctor for follow-up exams. Your practitioner may want to see you again in a few days after your accident to observe if everything is healing or other any related problems are revealed once the inflammation or swelling goes down as time passes. He or she also might be interested if you’re experiencing any mental challenges as well, such as confusion. All of this could be part of your permanent medical record and allow your practitioner to create a firm diagnosis. This paperwork and your doctor’s opinion can be critical.
  • Consult an attorney. Even if you’re not familiar with whiplash, accident attorneys are, and there’s a possibility that the person who caused you whiplash may be as well. An attorney often can provide a free, no obligation consultation to hear the details of your accident and what steps you’ve taken. If they believe your case has legal merit, they can become your advocate in getting suitable compensation, often more than what you may be offered from ICBC. They also will help you navigate the sometimes confusing claim process and make sure you get appropriate treatment before your whiplash progresses and pain level increases.

If you’re involved in an incident because of the actions of another driver that causes whiplash, call at us 604-689-3883 or send us an email at today.

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