Q: I wasn't seriously hurt. Am I still entitled to compensation and what should I do?
A: Fortunately, most auto accidents do not involve serious, permanent injuries. They do, however, create trauma and stress and pain to millions of people every year. The most common injuries sustained in most accidents are those to the head, neck and back. The impact of being rear-ended by another car--even at low speed--is sufficient to strain and injure these parts of the body which are connected to the very delicate spinal cord. Are you guilty of joking about those auto accident "victims" in their cervical neck collars who are out to rip off the insurance company after a minor accident? Every year several hundreds of thousands of victims, who are involved in automobile accidents, suffer from a painful and debilitating soft tissue injury commonly referred to as whiplash. These injures (and butts of jokes!) are very real and can cause years of suffering when improperly diagnosed, mistreated or ignored. When an automobile is struck from behind, the head is suddenly and forcefully flung backward beyond its normal extension, then just as abruptly it recoils forward. Damage occurs to soft tissues in the neck, mid-back and lower back which could affect ligaments, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, vertebrae and discs. In most cases, the only evidence of the injury is the victim's complaint; for such soft tissue damage usually does not show up on x-rays. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, stiffness, numbness, impaired vision, as well as pains in the neck, arms, and lower back may show up immediately, or even days or weeks later. The visible damage to your automobile may appear to be minor; but your injury is nonetheless real. There is no correlation between the severity of damage to your car and the severity of pain resulting from a whiplash injury. Even more acute damage can result in a neck sprain, torn ligaments, pinched nerves, injury to the esophagus or jaw, concussion, and/or stretched vertebrae. That is why it is so important: 1) not to give a premature opinion or statement about your condition at the time of the accident, 2) to be checked out by doctors who specialize in soft tissue injuries, and 3) to hold off settling with any insurance company until all symptoms have surfaced, all injuries have been treated, and all damage has been repaired. A study of 10,000 whiplash victims by the Mayo Clinic showed that while 80% of patients with cervical sprains fully recovered within a year, the remaining 20% developed scar tissue, calcium deposits, premature arthritis, and other degenerative changes in neck ligaments. John Harris works with the medical community on behalf of accident victims. He knows and cooperates with many different specialists who diagnose and treat various symptoms and injuries caused by automobile collisions. John Harris is sometimes able to arrange medical treatment for their clients on an "assignment" basis, with no out-of-pocket expense for the client. He seeks reimbursement for these medical expenses from all applicable insurance policies and from all liable insurance companies. If you have concerns about injuries following an automobile accident, please call John Harris, (540) 371-4941. The initial consultation is free.