Here's What To Do If You Have Neck Pain After A Car Accident

Updated October, 2020
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Always seek medical help after an accident. If you're not at-fault, file an insurance claim. If you're at-fault, check if you're in a no-fault state. Always give your insurance all the information.

Whiplash, sprains, and stiffness after a car accident

When you're rear-ended two laws of physics act upon you. An object at motion wants to stay in motion and an object at rest wants to stay at rest. The car behind you is moving faster than you and transfers their momentum into your car. Since you were at rest (assuming you were at a red light) your body is suddenly moving forward very fast once the car behind you makes impact. Since your torso and legs are attached to the part of the car that's moving, they're less likely to get hurt. Your head is one of the only body parts that aren't attached to your car. This makes neck injuries very common after a car accident.

Whiplash

Whiplash occurs from rapid head movement. Whiplash can bother you for years if not treated right. Here is what to look for

  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Dizziness or fatigue
  • Decreased range of motion in your neck
  • Pain when moving your neck

Neck Stiffness

Neck stiffness is when your neck is difficult or painful to move. it can last for a week or so if it's just stiffness. Here is what to look for:

  • Decreased range of motion in your neck
  • Pain in your neck or shoulders
  • Headaches

Neck Sprains

A neck sprain occurs when the ligaments in your neck stretch too far. Sprains normally accompany whiplash and can last for weeks. Here is what you should look for:

  • Pain when moving your neck
  • Decreased movement
  • Pain in shoulders

How is a neck injury diagnosed?

Neck injuries usually don't show up until 24 hours after the incident. However, it's still important to seek medical attention after an accident. A doctor could notice symptoms before you do. Doctors test for a range of motion and ask you your pain levels. They also feel around for tenderness.

Treating your neck pain

Neck injuries are treated differently depending on severity and type. A muscle injury is treated differently from a skeletal injury. Most treatments focus on returning your range of motion and pain management. Here are some examples:

  • Physical therapy
  • Anti-Inflammatory medicine
  • Deep tissue massages
  • Stretching and calisthenics

Filing a lawsuit after a sustaining a neck injury

If you sustained an injury in an accident and want your medical bills covered by the other persons insurance, you need to file a claim. However, if you were at fault you're at risk of covering their bills. You should file a claim if you can't afford to pay your medical bills, if you may miss out on work, or if your lifestyle is going to have to change. Do plenty of research into your lawyer before filling.

Will my insurance help cover any costs if I was at-fault?

Most likely you have to pay if you're at fault. If you have Personal Injury Coverage through your insurance company your insurance may at least pay for your injuries. However some states are "no-fault" states. This means that instead of filing a claim with your insurance company they file with theirs. If they or the insurance company is unhappy with the payout or cost they then sue you. In most no-fault states there is a threshold before they can sue you.

Is my insurance good enough to protect me in an accident?

If you're not sure, consider comparing different insurance providers to your own to find out who's able to provide you with the level of protection you need. Don't get caught on unprepared in the life-altering car accident.

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