Acceleration, Deceleration and Whiplash

By far the most common types of injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents is “whiplash.”  “Whiplash” is a cervical (neck) injury that is caused when the head is either thrown backward by acceleration or forward by deceleration.  The acceleration or deceleration in a car is usually very abrupt.  This abrupt jerking motion will cause the head itself to jerk and to be stretched beyond its normal range of motion.  This motion will lead to straining of the muscles and ligaments of the neck.  If the acceleration or deceleration motion is extreme enough, it can even cause fractures to the vertebrae in the neck.  Although you are likely to fully recover from “whiplash,” these types of injuries are incredibly painful and can cause you to miss prolonged time from work and other activities while you recover.

Acceleration, Deceleration, WhiplashWhiplash injuries can even occur when a vehicle is travelling at very low speed.  Most often, a whiplash injury occurs as the result of a rear-end collision, rather than from a side-impact or head-on crash, although these wrecks can sometimes cause whiplash.  When a car accident occurs, the impact results in kinetic energy that will keep the bodies inside the car moving forward.  Seat belts and other restraints will keep the bodies stopped in place in the seat while the head will continue to move forward, and then to be snapped back into place as the car comes to a stop.  This unnatural movement results in hyper-extension injuries.

Depending upon the severity of the impact and how fast the vehicles were travelling, the extent of the injury will differ.  However, just because your vehicle is not severely damaged in a rear-impact injury, does not necessarily mean that your cervical injuries and symptoms are minimal.  Sometimes a minimal impact car wreck can lead to more serious injuries than you might expect to the neck and back.

Diagnosing cervical acceleration / deceleration (CAD) injuries 

Cervical acceleration/deceleration injuries most commonly result in trauma to the deep anterior neck muscles.  When a muscle is “strained,” it is slightly torn.  When a ligament is “sprained,” it is stretched or torn.  This can be incredibly painful, as the ligaments in the neck are responsible for maintaining the comfortable curve of the neck.  Most neck injuries of this nature will involve micro-tears, but for more serious hyper-extension will result in larger tears and even fractures.  Many car wreck victims, even after they are considered “healed,” will experience “microspasms,”  which involve the sudden contraction of the neck muscles.  These spasms can be very painful.

Front-end impact accidents have a higher risk of serious injury and death.  Whiplash caused by a head-on collision can injure the upper cervical spine from hyper-extension.  Severe strains of this nature can leave the car accident victim suffering from tension headaches, migraines and even vision problems, sometimes long after the crash and after the neck has “healed.”  The extent of the injuries can sometimes vary depending on the type of vehicles involved.   The size of both vehicles has a great impact on both the nature and severity of the injuries.  Airbags are required in vehicles for safety purposes, and they may save you from life-threatening injuries but, they can actually lead to additional injuries because of the force of the impact when the airbag deploys.  

The most serious whiplash injuries can be associated with traumatic brain injuries.  People who have whiplash injuries will likely be examined by a doctor, both physically and with an x-ray or CT scan.  In severe cases, doctors may examine and monitor brain function to determine whether or not there was any damage to the brain, whether it be a concussion or a more severe brain injury.  With acceleration/deceleration injuries, the brain may swell and cause bruising and bleeding, which can potentially be life-threatening.  Treatment may involve draining excess fluid from the brain.

If you or a loved one are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may be experiencing painful side effects from whiplash or other spinal injuries, including injuries to the lumbar spine and other low back pain.  The driver that hit you may have been cited with a moving violation but, you may still need to take civil legal action against them and their insurance company.  To recover the maximum compensation for your injuries and other damages, you should contact a personal injury lawyer and file a claim. 

If you have suffered whiplash in a car accident, learn about your legal rights from an experienced Louisiana car crash lawyer by calling 504-581-4892 or by filling out our free, no obligation case review form.



Herman Herman & Katz, LLC
820 O Keefe Ave
New Orleans, LA 70113
Phone: (504) 581-4892

Copyright ©2017 Herman Herman & Katz, L.L.C.

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