Is my whiplash worse because I slammed on my brakes?

The accident happened almost a week ago. You were turning onto when the car behind you smashed into your rear bumper, sending you into a spin. You instinctively slammed on your brakes, causing your head to involuntarily jerk forward and strike your steering wheel. As the front of your car banged into a light pole, your airbag deployed, lurching your head back into the headrest.

After being taken to the hospital to check for serious injuries, your doctor informed you that besides the broken nose from the airbag, the worst injury he found was a severe case of whiplash. He told you to take it easy and let him know if the pain worsened or if your vision, balance, or mood changed.

You’re now back at Inova, waiting for your doctor to help ease the debilitating neck pain and headaches that you’ve been suffering with for the past six days. While you lay there holding your head and rubbing your own shoulders to relieve some of the pain, you wonder why your whiplash is so bad. What specifically caused the pain and could you have done anything to have made it less severe?

Forces Contributing to Whiplash

Whiplash can be an extremely painful injury as a result of external forces pushing your head and neck forward and backward, extending the muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. Depending on the amount and direction of the force, the injuries can range to minor to extremely severe. These forces include:

  • Initial forward impact force, if hit in rear. When a car hits you from behind, you’re jerked forward
  • Initial backward impact force, if contact was in front. When hit in front, you’re jerked backward.
  • Side impact force. If the collision happened on either side, impact forces your head to the opposite side.
  • Secondary force. The initial force has an equal but opposite reaction; your head is jerked forward or backward until the initial force subsides.
  • Airbag force. The deployment of the airbag will push your head back to keep you from slamming into the dashboard.
  • Multiple impact force. If  multiple vehicles collide, or if your vehicle is pushed to collide with a fixed object, more forces come into play. Every time your vehicle absorbs an impact, the force can be transmitted to your neck, causing vibrations, jolts, and injury.
  • Brake force. Impact force is greatest while your car is stopped; when your brakes keep your car from expelling the force forward, the force must be distributed somewhere else—spreading more force to objects and people inside the vehicle.

Have You Suffered From Whiplash? Contact Shevlin Smith Today

Have you been in constant pain since your doctor diagnosed your accident pain as whiplash? Not sure how to pay for proper medical care? Contact us today for a free consultation to see if you’re eligible for injury compensation. You don’t have to live with the pain; let us help you. Call us at 703-591-0067.