When a sudden hyper-flexion, hyper-extension of the neck along with an acceleration-deceleration event occurs, it results in acute whiplash injury. This is the most frequently occurring soft tissue injury in motor vehicle crashes. Most occurrences of whiplash result from a rear-end car accident. Most legal cases involving whiplash present evidence of neck stiffness and pain, lumbar and/or thoracic back pain, occipital headache, paresthesia, or upper extremity pain.
On a yearly basis in the United States alone, 3 million new whiplash injuries occur. Over half of these advance to more chronic symptoms. In addition, women suffer whiplash injuries five times more often than men.
What causes whiplash?
A rear end collision generally results in greater damage to the cervical spine than a front or side collision. When a vehicle occupant is hit from behind, his or her head accelerates forward quickly, which leads to the stretching of the muscles, ligaments, tendons in the neck beyond the normal range. If the vehicle comes to a rapid stop, the head is generally thrust back and forth violently. Women and tall individuals are more likely to suffer whiplash injuries in these incidents. It is important to understand that whiplash can take place at very low car crash speeds – even at 5 mph – with the majority occurring at 12 mph and under.
Potential consequences of whiplash
The effects of a whiplash injury are not always immediately recognizable. Sometimes the soft neck tissue takes time to manifest evidence of the injury. For this reason, if your head or neck has been tossed back and forward rapidly in an accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Often, whiplash injuries lead to long-lasting, debilitating pain and disability that imposes financial costs upon the sufferer. With some, a psychological component is present if the pain persists over a long period of time, leading to adjustment reaction, anxiety, fear, and in some cases depression.
Why women are more susceptible to whiplash injury than men
There are a number of reasons why women are more susceptible to sustaining whiplash injuries than men in car accidents. The anatomical differences between males and females are one postulated reason. Women possess smaller amounts of cartilage in the facet joints and a different distribution. With less cartilage, there is less protection to the cervical spine of the female.
The trunk loading muscles of a woman’s back are also significantly smaller than a man’s on average, leading to an anatomical difference that puts the woman a greater risk for injury during a whiplash incident.
If you have sustained a neck or back injury in a car crash that was not your fault, whether whiplash or otherwise, our Alabama car accident attorneys at Mezrano Law Firm can help. We advocate on behalf of drivers and passengers throughout the state and can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Give us a call today at 205.407.1768 or complete our contact form. We serve clients from our offices in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery, Florence, and Gadsden.