Perhaps you sat at a stoplight waiting for it to turn green. You happened to look up into your rearview mirror and suddenly realized that the vehicle coming up behind you wasn’t going to stop. Even as the vehicle approached, in the second or seconds before impact, you still hoped it would stop. You involuntarily braced for impact because you had no way to avoid it.

At this point, the jokes about grabbing your neck in pain and claiming to have whiplash may come to mind. You may even have laughed at those jokes at one time, but now your neck hurts, and you may actually suffer from whiplash.

What is whiplash, anyway?

In a rear-end collision, your neck is thrust back and forth violently. This is known as whiplash. The symptoms of whiplash include the following:

  • Neck pain
  • Pins-and-needles tingling
  • Neck stiffness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Neck instability
  • Reduced neck movement
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling through the shoulders and down the arm

You may not recognize these symptoms as being whiplash since you expect pain after a car wreck. The damage to your vehicle does not indicate the damage done to you. You could suffer from severe whiplash even if the damage to your vehicle looks negligible. To make matters worse, diagnosing the condition can prove problematic.

When should I go to the doctor?

It’s a good idea to have a doctor check you out after any accident since it may be difficult to assess whether you suffered serious injuries. However, if you experience any of the following in the aftermath of the crash, you should seek medical help immediately:

  • Neck instability
  • Severe Pain
  • Balance or coordination issues
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sleep issues
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Other behavioral changes
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling in the shoulder down into the arm and hand

Severe whiplash can take months to recover from, and you may experience chronic issues for the rest of your life. During this time, you may incur a significant amount of medical expenses, you could lose income due to missing work, and you may have trouble providing for you and your family.

Compensation for your injuries

Insurance companies may offer you a settlement. You may find it tempting since you face financial losses associated with the accident. However, taking that settlement may not be in your best interest. An insurance company looks out for itself, not you, so the offer will more than likely be significantly less than you deserve. You may need to pursue legal action in the form of a personal injury claim to receive an appropriate amount of compensation.