Whiplash-associated disorders from car accidents affect more than 4 million Americans annually, harming their quality of life and costing an estimated $30 billion for medical/rehabilitative care per year. Yet, insurance companies are dismissive of whiplash injuries. As Miami Car accident lawyers, the difficulty for us lies in proving that an injury exists, because often times there is no objective evidence. That however, is about to change.
The most common type of injury flowing a car accident is a whiplash injury. Thus, lets look at what a Whiplash injury is and how it’s caused.
Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. The most common mechanism of injury is a rear-end car accident, but the injury can also result from a sports accident, physical abuse or other trauma.
Common signs and symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness and headaches. Most people with whiplash recover within a few months after a course of pain medication, exercise and other therapy. However, about 25 percent have long-term pain and disability that lasts many months or years.
While pain is a subjective complaint, providing objective evidence of injury to substantiate that pain is instrumental in proving a permanent injury following an accident. Using special MRI imaging, Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified, within the first one and two weeks of the injury, which patients will go on to develop chronic pain, disability and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Northwestern scientists found unusual muscular changes in the chronic pain group using a sophisticated MRI that measures the fat/water ratio in the muscles. The imaging revealed large amounts of fat infiltrating the patients’ neck muscles, indicating rapid atrophy.
Now the bad part, standard MRI machines do not reveal this fat infiltration in individuals with whiplash injuries. Will MRI centers invest in the new technology? Will health insurance companies and car insurance companies pay for the testing?
Now that we can prove what we always knew-that whiplash injuries can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering-we need to make insurance companies recognize these tests and more importantly to pay for these injuries.