Rear-end collisions & whiplash injuries: Five common myths
As Joplin car accident lawyers, we know that rear-end collisions are one of the most common kinds of crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a rear-end collision happens about every eight seconds in the U.S. Though these accidents don't always appear to be serious, the consequences can be catastrophic. In this post, we discuss a few common myths related to rear-end collisions and their resulting injuries.
MYTH #1: There was only minimal damage to the rear-ended vehicle, so its occupants couldn't have suffered any serious injuries.
When it comes to whiplash, the severity of vehicle damage has little to do with the severity of the occupants' injuries. Rear-end collisions that only leave minor scrapes and dents on your vehicle can cause serious damage to your neck and spine.
MYTH #2: If you don't experience pain or any other symptoms immediately after a crash, you probably haven't sustained any serious injuries.
On the contrary, the symptoms of whiplash and other soft tissue injuries often don't appear right after an injury occurs. It may take hours or even days before you begin to experience symptoms associated with whiplash - and at that point, those symptoms may come and go, or grow more severe as time passes. That's why it's so important to be evaluated by a doctor immediately following a rear-end collision, even if you think you're not hurt.
MYTH #3: Recovering from a whiplash injury generally only takes about six to 12 weeks. Permanent injuries associated with whiplash are extremely rare.
Car accident victims who suffer from mild forms of whiplash may be able to recover within a period of weeks, but severe whiplash injuries are another matter entirely. These injuries, which often involve damages to the nerves, ligaments or spinal discs, can cause chronic pain or permanent disability, and they may also require surgery.
MYTH #4: Whiplash injuries only occur when a victim's vehicle is rear-ended at a high rate of speed.
Medical professionals agree that serious neck injuries are commonly caused by low-speed collisions resulting in minor vehicle damage. In fact, research indicates that vehicle occupants experience high-impact forces during low speed crashes, while vehicles don't begin to crush until speeds reach 15 to 20 miles per hour. One medical study argues that "It is wrong to assume that maximum neck injury occurs in a high-speed collision; it is the slow or moderate collision that causes maximum hyperextension of the cervical spine. High-speed collisions often break the back of the seat, thus minimizing the force of hyperextension."
MYTH #5: Whiplash injuries only affect the victim's neck.
Indeed, neck pain is a common symptom of whiplash. However, a whiplash injury can cause numerous physical symptoms that affect different parts of the body, including shoulder, back and arm pain; headaches; sleep disturbances; jaw tightness or pain; blurred vision; ringing in the ears; and memory or concentration problems.