Visitor Question

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

Submitted By: Zenwe (USA)

I was a passenger in a taxi cab at the back by the left door. The car was stationary, having given way to oncoming traffic. An oncoming car turning right onto the road that we were on, rammed right into us.

I got an instant headache from the jolt, which although dulled now, has spread to my neck and shoulders. Are these the symptoms of whiplash?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Zenwe,

Whiplash is a sudden, moderate-to-severe strain affecting the bones, discs, muscles, nerves, or tendons of the neck.

Your neck is composed of seven small bones, known as the cervical spine. These bones: support your head, help maintain an unobstructed enclosure for the spinal cord, influence the shape and structure of the spine, and can affect your posture and balance.

Thousands of automobile related whiplash collision occur every year in the USA.

Most are the result of motor vehicle accidents or collisions involving contact sports. When unexpected force jerks the head back, then forward, the bones of the neck snap out of position and irritated nerves can interfere with flow of blood and transmission of nerve impulses. Pinched nerves can damage or destroy the function of body parts whose actions they govern.

Sometimes symptoms of whiplash appear right away. Sometimes they do not develop until hours, days, or weeks after the injury occurs. Symptoms of whiplash include: pain or stiffness in the neck, jaw, shoulders, or arms, dizziness, headache, loss of feeling in an arm or hand, and nausea and vomiting. Depression and vision problems are rare symptoms of this condition.

Whiplash is difficult to diagnose because x-rays and other imaging studies do not always reveal changes in bone structure. Organs affected by nerve damage or reduced blood supply may generate symptoms not clearly related to whiplash.

The treatment for your whiplash can include: medication, physical therapy, and other supportive measures often used to treat whiplash.

Chiropractors gently realign the spine to relax pinched nerves or improve blood flow. If you see a doctor she may prescribe a soft, padded collar (Thomas collar or cervical collar) until the pain diminishes. When pressure on the root of the nerve causes loss of strength or sensation in a hand or arm, a cervical traction apparatus may be recommended.

It will be up to you and your physician to determine if you actually have whiplash, and if so how serious is is. Once you know you can take whatever action you think necessary, including filing a claim against the taxi company, and the at-fault driver.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: August 4, 2011

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