Can You Get Whiplash from a Bike Accident? | All Factors to Consider
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries someone can get after a bike accident. Depending on the accident, the person could experience soft tissue injuries or other types of damage that could lead to surgery and extensive rehab.
Typically, the victim can recover from whiplash injuries after a few weeks, as long as they got the necessary treatment. Other scenarios involving chronic pain or a neck fracture may need other types of treatment.
There are many factors surrounding neck injury, so this page will explain everything about it, what to expect from the recovery process, and how getting legal advice can help the victim get the money they need to get physical therapy and treatment for their whiplash symptoms.
Whiplash is a type of neck injury. It often happens when a person's neck moves back and forth quickly and forcefully. In other words, if a person suffers from a "sudden distortion" of their neck, they could experience whiplash injuries.
Once whiplash happens, the sudden movement in the neck will cause the tearing of some ligaments, muscles, and tendons, which tends to cause the sharp neck pain people experience.
Even though these injuries typically cause pain and stiffness in the neck, they can also cause lower back pain, muscle spasms, dizziness, etc.
What Causes a Whiplash Injury?
Whiplash typically occurs when a person gets hit from any direction. Contrary to popular belief, getting hit from behind isn't the only way to get neck injuries.
Moreover, these neck injuries don't always involve the person's neck moving forward. People can also get whiplash if their head moves sideways.
The victim doesn't have to break their neck in order to get whiplash. If the impact is hard enough that the person overstretched their ligaments, tendons, and muscles, they will feel pain and stiffness eventually.
There are three main scenarios where a person can get a whiplash injury:
Auto or Bike Accidents
These are the most common cases of whiplash injury in any state. If someone gets hit by another vehicle, they're likely to experience a neck injury. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can let you know what to do if you have a cycling accident. Depending on the injury, it can also affect the person's spinal nerves or spinal bones.
Those who experience bicycle accidents are more likely to get soft tissue injury, as their bodies are more exposed to the road and everything on it. Even if the bike rider isn't hit too hard, the impact can greatly affect their body.
In the best-case scenario, the person will only have a mild neck injury that, with proper treatment, could heal within a few weeks.
People who get shaken or punched can also get these injuries. Even though some of these injuries may not be as harmful to adults, children could suffer from serious brain injuries after getting shaken (this is known as the shaken baby syndrome).
Finally, certain contact sports can lead to a severe neck injury. Football is one of the most dangerous contact sports that could lead to neck pain and other injuries, as it involves tackling other players.
What Types of Neck Pain Can Victims Experience with Whiplash?
An important thing to note about whiplash is that the victim may not feel pain until a few hours after the injury occurred. In most cases, whiplash can develop within the first 12 to 24 hours.
Depending on the scenario, the person may experience discomfort, pain, or stiffness (or all three), the next day after they got the injury.
While most people heal a few weeks after the injury occurs, others keep experiencing pain for weeks and even months.
The most common types of neck pain/discomfort someone can experience include:
Loss of movement in the neck
Tenderness in the back of the neck
Numbness/pain in the arms or hands
Ringing in the ears
In other complicated scenarios, the victim could experience:
Struggle to swallow
How to Tell if Someone Experienced Bike Accident Neck Injuries
As mentioned, bike riders are often more exposed to accidents and injuries than other people. Even if the rider was wearing a helmet, the sudden movement in the neck could cause damage to the neck muscles, ligaments, or tendons.
Unfortunately, whiplash-related injuries aren't always obvious. The victim may not even feel pain at first, so they will be eager to go home and rest.
In any case, the best thing a victim can do after a bike accident is to seek medical help immediately. Doctors will be able to determine whether the person sustained further injuries and if they need physical therapy, medication, or chiropractic treatment to recover.
After the first 12-24 hours have passed, the person will start to experience whiplash symptoms. Here's an overview of what the symptoms can mean:
Muscular injury is often represented by:
Sharp neck pain
Inability to move the head
Loss of range of motion
Muscular injuries are also considered "soft tissue" injuries.
Those with tendon injuries will experience similar symptoms as those with muscular injuries. The main difference is that tendon injury is much more painful, as it involves a cervical sprain, meaning that the person damaged the ligaments responsible for connecting their spinal bones and joints.
Also known as neck fractures, these are painful injuries that may require long rest periods and even surgery in severe cases. These injuries are more common when the bike rider gets hit by a larger vehicle such as a car.
Some common signs of bone injury include:
Pain that goes from the neck to the shoulders/arms
Paralyzed arms or legs
Weakness in the muscles
Loss of feeling in arms or legs
In those cases, the victim should get an X-ray to see if they have a bone injury.
Spinal Disc Injury
Disc injury can lead to pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, which can be very painful. If the accident was too severe, the victim's spinal discs can become displaced, which causes pressure.
Common signs of disc injury include:
Sharp neck pain
Pain in the arms and fingers
Numbness, weakness, or tingling
In some cases, damage to the spinal cord/spinal nerves can last for the rest of the victim's life, which is why it's so important to get treatment as soon as possible to ease the pain the person will have.
Can Someone Get a Traumatic Brain Injury Due to a Bike Accident?
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents are more likely to lead to brain injuries than other vehicle types. This is because of how exposed the victim is while they're on the road.
Severe brain injuries can lead to many complications, including:
Loss of consciousness
The best way to prevent these accidents is to wear all the protective gear possible (especially the helmet) and ride the bike carefully while they're on the road. While that won't prevent a reckless driver from hitting the rider, taking precautions will make severe injuries less likely.
Wearing protective gear during an intense accident could lead to the person only suffering mild whiplash damage, which they will heal from in a few weeks.
Still, if the person got any kind of damage because of someone else's fault, they must contact a bicycle accident attorney in Houston TX as soon as possible to seek compensation for all the medical bills and lost wages the person may get.
Getting Treatment for Neck Injuries Before Calling a Lawyer
It's normal to feel overwhelmed after a bike accident. Even in the best-case scenario, the victim will feel dizzy or disoriented.
There are a few steps the person can follow after getting into an accident (as long as they can move):
Get assistance from the police and paramedics.
Get the other person's contact and insurance information.
Document the scene of the accident with photos and videos.
Get the contact information of any potential witnesses.
Get medical assistance and keep all the records available.
Something crucial to prevent further injuries is to not remove the helmet right after the accident. Depending on how the victim got hit, they may cause further injury by removing their helmet.
How Much Can the Victim Get in Compensation for a Whiplash Injury?
It depends on the nature of the accident, who was at fault for it, and how long the injuries last.
As a rule of thumb, the longer the injury lasts, the more money the victim could ask for in compensation. However, liability may play a huge role there.
If the victim is found to be partially at fault for the accident, then the defendant and their insurance company may be less likely to offer an appropriate amount of settlement money. In those cases, the victim can talk to an experienced lawyer to ensure they get the best outcome possible. A lawyer can also help answer questions like, "How do I file a claim for a bicycle accident in Texas"
Many insurance companies argue that the victim is exaggerating when it comes to their whiplash injury. This is why it's so important to document everything around the injury as thoroughly as possible.
Bottom Line - Schedule a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Whiplash, even in its most basic form, can be painful for a bike rider. Thankfully, there are many legal options for the victim to get compensated and cover their medical bills or lost wages.
The team at Schuerger Shunnarah is willing to go to war for their clients, so anyone interested in getting the legal advice necessary to get properly compensated should contact the firm for a free case evaluation today.