Neck injuries are potentially deadly, and always scary to deal with. You could suffer a relatively minor and common neck injury that makes it feel like you broke your neck. You also could suffer a serious neck injury that does not feel particularly painful or endangering, but the result could become deadly without medical treatment. Car accidents are a chief cause of neck injuries.
If you are in a car accident and suffer any kind of injury to your neck, you should see a medical doctor right away. Even if you suspect a neck injury might have occurred, immediate medical care is the best way to help ensure you did not suffer a potentially life-threatening neck injury.
Whiplash Is the Most Common Neck Injury Caused by Car Accidents
When your vehicle is struck from behind or the side, your head tends to roll violently forward or to the side. That action creates a force on the neck that can cause extensive soft-tissue damage.
Such neck injuries are called “whiplash” due to the whip-like effect that occurs as the energy from the impact travels through your neck. The resulting soft tissue damage might take hold right away, or settle in more gradually over several hours or even a day or two. When whiplash is at its worst, you cannot move your head or neck without feeling intense pain. It can make it feel like you broke your neck when you did not.
Fortunately, most whiplash injuries heal themselves after a few days. More serious cases could linger for several weeks and require extensive physical therapy to help you heal up and resume your normal daily routines.
Many Other Types of Neck Injuries
In addition to whiplash, car accidents also cause a variety of neck injuries that can have very debilitating effects on your health and ability to continue working. Many times, accident survivors suffer two or more neck injuries, which can make healing more difficult following a car accident.
Among the most common car accident neck injuries are:
- Abrasions or lacerations
- Damage to soft tissue
- Injuries to the brain
- Vocal cord paralysis
Paresthesia refers to a neck injury in which an injured spinal disc slips due to the impact and places additional pressure on the root of a nearby nerve. The result could create a burning or tingling sensation that has no obvious medical cause.
It also is possible to suffer a brain injury without an actual blow to your head. If you suffer injuries to any of the arteries in the neck, that could restrict blood flow to your brain. Reduced blood flow means less oxygen to your brain and an increased potential of suffering a brain injury.
Abrasions and lacerations are very noticeable and could be deadly if a cut severs an artery or vein. You are more likely to suffer soft tissue damage that makes it impossible to move your neck without enduring an extreme amount of pain.
You also might suffer damage to your vocal cords. If the larynx takes a hard blow during the car accident, you might find it nearly impossible to speak. It might even result in paralyzed vocal cords.
Long-Term Neck Injuries Might Require Extended Medical Care
Some neck injuries take an unusually long amount of time to heal. The ongoing chronic pain might affect the jaw, head movement, or your shoulders and lower back.
You might experience chronic headaches, fatigue, or blurred vision that affects your ability to work and enjoy your normal activities and hobbies. Long-term neck injuries can make people feel dizzy, nauseous, or have blurred vision.
The neck contains many nerves, and the spinal cord passes through it. Virtually any injury from which you might suffer could have more extensive effects on your body.
Neck injuries also could affect your mental state and make you more irritable or otherwise more emotional than you were before the accident. Those who suffer injuries to the nerves contained within the cervical spine are especially prone to mental or emotional effects from a neck injury.
Latent Neck Injuries Often Mask Symptoms
It is possible to suffer a neck injury and not be aware of it right away. Latent neck injuries might take several days to reveal themselves due to a variety of factors.
When you are in an accident, the shock to your body could have a numbing effect that lasts for a day or so. When the shock wears off, the pain from a neck injury might become more pronounced.
The potential for latent injuries makes it very important to obtain medical care as soon as possible. The sooner that a medical doctor can identify any latent injuries, the faster you can start the healing process.
It also is important to identify latent injuries so that you include them when you file your initial claim. The longer it takes to identify an injury, the more likely an insurer will try to deny the claim by saying that injury was not directly related to the car accident.
Proving a Car Accident Caused Your Neck Injury
When insurers or attorneys for at-fault drivers try to deny claims, you need to present strong evidence showing the direct relation to the car accident. An experienced car accident attorney can help you to do that with a medical diagnosis from a specialist.
The diagnosis should describe the injury and explain how it is caused by an accident like the one that you experienced. The supporting medical diagnosis and evidence can help your attorney to present the best possible case so that you stand the best chance of having your claim approved.
Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Accident Survivors to File Strong Claims
If you suffered a neck injury in a car accident, the experienced Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you to build a strong case against negligent parties. You can call (302) 427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. We serve clients throughout Delaware.