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3d rendering of whiplas

Years ago, in cartoons and movies, the joke was if someone was “faking” a car accident injury, they were often portrayed with a neck brace and claimed they were suffering from whiplash. Anyone who has actually suffered a whiplash injury, however, can attest that there is nothing “fake” about this very painful injury.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained by car accident victims, but it is also one of the most contested by insurance companies. Insurance adjusters may try to accuse victims of exaggerating their symptoms or even faking them entirely.

Whiplash can be difficult to diagnose and this is what can make it easily contested by the at-fault party’s insurance company. There are several steps that a seasoned Virginia car accident attorney can take to prove that a victim is suffering from a whiplash injury as a result of the crash.

Whiplash is not an injury that has always been around. Doctors began seeing this type of injury in the early 1800’s as the railroad became a mode of transportation. Many victims of railroad accidents, who were in railroad cars hit from behind, suffered whiplash injuries. Doctors at first classified whiplash injuries as sprains, but soon realized whiplash injuries did not heal like sprain injuries. Doctors were also confused as to how the injury actually occurred and thought that injuries were caused by the “jarring back and forth of the spine.” The injury became known as “railroad spine.”

Whiplash Injuries

With the invention of automobiles came the increase of car accidents – and whiplash injuries – which were still a mystery to the medical industry. Finally, in 1995, a classification system was developed for what the medical field now refers to as whiplash injuries.  If one searches on various medical information websites, there is wide-ranging acknowledgment that “whiplash” is a very real syndrome, for which orthopedic, chiropractic and physical therapy practices treat patients every day of the year.

Despite the classification, there are still many insurance adjusters who minimize the seriousness of whiplash injuries, or strongly question them, especially when a victim suffers chronic pain lasting many months. These insurance company reps still believe that a whiplash injury is nothing more than a sprain and should always heal within two to three weeks. Nonetheless, many sympathetic medical doctors recognize that approximately 25 percent of whiplash injury victims end up suffering chronic pain from the injury.

Issues with Whiplash Injury Claims

Despite medical records which often reveal multiple visits to the doctor with complaints of pain that a chronic whiplash injury brings, car insurance companies often offer settlements that are much less than the financial losses the victim has actually suffered or they deny the claim completely.

How Can a Virginia Accident Attorney Prove Whiplash?

Although whiplash does not always show up in diagnostic testing which can be shown to a jury, a Virginia personal injury attorney can still prove that the victim has suffered a whiplash injury in a crash caused by the at-fault driver.

One of the strongest ways that an attorney can prove whiplash is by the victim’s physician testimony. The physician can explain to the jury the process used to diagnose the whiplash, including a victim’s symptoms, examination, treatments, and prognosis. Medical professionals, including chiropractors and physical therapists, document the changes and improvement in a victim’s condition throughout the victim’s treatment, which can later be used to show the extent of the victim’s injuries.

The attorney can also use the victim’s prescription medication history as evidence. Many doctors prescribe pain-relievers and muscle relaxers to help alleviate the pain and discomfort the injury is causing the victim. The medication history can help show just how much pain the victim had to deal with.

Testimony from any family members or friends living with the victim can also be used. Relatives and friends can describe just how much the injury and the symptoms of the injury impacted and interfered with the victim’s life.

A car accident attorney can also use the police report, photographs of the vehicles, as well as any accident recreation records to prove a whiplash injury. These documents will often have information describing how the crash happened (i.e. rear-end, head-on collision, etc.), what speed each of the vehicles involved was traveling, and demonstrate the force of the impact. A recreation can show how the crash impact affected each occupant in the vehicle, as well.

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