A worker’s guide to dealing with whiplash after a workplace accident
Workplace accidents happen every day in Georgia. Whiplash is one of the most common types of injuries that people experience during the course of their employment. Also referred to as a cervical sprain or strain, this type of injury typically occurs when a person is suddenly thrown forward in a car crash or truck accident.
What to do after an accident that may have caused whiplash
After a workplace back or neck accident, the most important thing to do first is to seek medical treatment right away. Some people don’t realize they were seriously injured until pain and stiffness set in a couple days later. After an accident, a person’s body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which prevent them from feeling the full extent of the pain. After these hormones wear off, the injuries then become more apparent.
After the pain sets in, a person may notice swelling, pain, stiffness and soreness. These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored—even when it appears as though injuries aren’t serious. The longer a person waits to seek medical treatment after sustaining whiplash injuries, the longer treatment may take.
Most people with whiplash are treated in the emergency room after an accident and then may seek follow-up care with their primary care physician or a chiropractor. If you try to ignore your injuries, the pain could become debilitating over the course of several weeks.
What medical treatment occurs after a whiplash injury?
The first thing a doctor will usually do when a person reports to an emergency room with a complaint of pain in their neck and back after an accident is order x-rays. X-rays will show whether or not there is a fracture that could cause spinal cord damage but will not show soft tissue injuries like herniated discs. A doctor may order further testing such as a CT scan or an MRI. They may prescribe a low dose of painkillers for the patient to take at home with instructions to follow up with their primary physician within two or three days.
The course of treatment after discharge from the emergency room will vary depending on the seriousness of the injury. Some cases of whiplash may resolve with over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. Many people will need to seek chiropractic care and attend physical therapy before their injuries resolve. If pain levels cannot be tolerated while the injury is healing, a doctor may administer a nerve injection to block pain temporarily. It’s important not to aggravate the injury, especially in the first few days after the accident. Doctors may order a patient to take time off work and prescribe a collar or neck brace to immobilize a patient’s neck while whiplash injuries heal.
Whiplash can last for several days or even years depending on the severity of the injury. It can cause long-term effects for some people including dizziness, headaches, jaw pain, ringing in the ears, blurred vision and irritability. The injury may seem to go away temporarily but come back if the injured area is aggravated with activity. In rare cases, a person who has a whiplash injury may experience numbness or tingling in their hands and fingers. It is important to seek medical care right away in cases that involve numbness or severe pain.
Is there legal recourse for a whiplash injury?
After seeking medical treatment and reporting an accident to your employer, you’ll want to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Hiring a lawyer can help individuals file a claim for workers’ compensation with their employer and ensure they obtain full compensation.
It’s especially a good idea to seek legal counsel if your work injury claim is denied. Insurance companies have an interest in trying to get you to take as little as possible for an injury and waive your right to sue, so it is best not to face them alone.
After a workplace accident, talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can. Don’t sign anything from an insurance company or your employer without speaking to a lawyer first. If you’ve recently suffered whiplash or another on-the-job accident, contact the experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys at Gerber Holder Law today.