Anatomy of a Whiplash Injury
Whiplash settlements are a hot topic. Every year in the United States there are over 1 million people hurt by whiplash in car crashes. More than $30 billion is spent in the United States on these whiplash injuries.
A whiplash injury can cause long term problems. Many people don’t know you can get hurt in a low speed car crash as well as a high speed car accident but don’t know about the hundreds of studies done by scientists about whiplash in automobiles.
Why do you need to be worrying about whiplash settlements even after a minor car crash? Scientists have made many discoveries on how human bodies are effected by whiplash in low speed auto accidents.
Most crashes that cause whiplash only take two-tenths of a second. The amount of time that the person in the crash is moving in the accident is only about one-tenth of a second.
The reason whiplash happens, and the reason you are probably now reading about whiplash settlements, is because the seat moves with the car when it is hit because the seat is bolted to the car. But the passenger’s body naturally wants to stay in the same position it is in until it is forced to move by something (which is the back of the seat in a car crash).
Because the seat is not perfectly straight, when the car is hit from behind, the passenger’s body pushes back against the seat as the seat is going forward and their body moves up against the seat’s incline. The seat bends backward because the person weighs more than the seat.
When the seat reaches the furthest point that it will go back, it is flung forward pushing the passenger’s upper body with it. Because the passenger’s head also wants to stay in the same position it was until it is made to move, it stays still when the body moves backward.
But in 80% of vehicles on the road today there are no head rests, so as the upper body of the passenger moves backward and then forward, the head stays still until it has to catch up with the rest of the body that is flung forward. When this happens the head quickly rolls backward and then is thrown forward ahead of the rest of the body.
Whiplash Settlement Amounts
If I was asked what is the recent range of whiplash settlement amounts in Oregon and Washington and what is the average whiplash settlement I would say the range is $500 to a high of $17,500 but remember these amounts are case specific and differ greatly based upon multiple factors which include..
- The severity of the cars impact.
- The amount of medical bills and the exact nature or source of your injury like can the medical provider directly reach your injury to the car crash.
- The duration/length of medical care.
- Who the insurer of the at fault car is.
- Whether you are represented by a lawyer.
You certainly can get more on a whiplash car accident injury settlement if the other driver was drunk or if you have bruising, cuts, or scars and again it depends on each case and each case will vary, of course. To find out how an attorney can help you get more for your whiplash settlements see our Settlements page.
Low Speed Whiplash Injury
Most people know that you can get a whiplash injury from a head on collision, but did you know you can get a soft tissue injury from a fender bender? Scientists doing studies on low speed auto accidents found that in normal head movement, each vertebra helps the neck move.
This is done by facet joints on each vertebra that slide across each other as the neck moves. Scientists used to think that whiplash was a normal motion of the neck that went: still-back-forward-still.
New studies show that the upper body moves forward first as the head stays still. This makes the spine turn into an “S” shape, which is not normal. The way the vertebra move in a auto accident is changed by how they push against each other and scrape against each other.
Scientists then started looking at the IAR (Instantaneous Axis of Rotation), which is the normal way the vertebra move by sliding over each other. Scientists found that IAR moves during a vehicle accident.
In 1997, a group of scientists led by Dr. Ono said that this motion was a “non physiological motion of the vertebra segments”, which means that in an auto accident the vertebra were moving in ways that were not normal for it to be moving.
The scientists now saw that the auto accidents were making the spine’s vertebra press together and then scrape against each other.
Another group of scientists found that the upper facet joint was pushed forward and pinched the lower one during car accidents, when the facet joint should just slide across. This was also a movement that was not normal. They also found a lot of tightness in the upper spine when the crash made it turn into an “S” shape.
In 1999, the group led by Dr. Yogananden said that “excessive stretching of the posterior upper cervical complex and the pinching mechanism due to compression and sliding of the facet joint may explain the presence of suboccipital headache and neck pain, respectively, in patients with whiplash associated disorders”.
That means that the stretching and pinching of the upper spine that was caused by the vertebra pushing against each other and sliding might be what causes headaches and neck pain in people who have whiplash injuries.
Reference: “Understanding Low Velocity Whiplash.” Body-Mind publications: 2001.
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