Whiplash Accidents

Whiplash Accidents

Whiplash injuries resulting from auto accidents are the most common type of personal injury cases. An auto accident occurs every ten seconds in the United States, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. In 2010 there were 6 million auto accidents in the U.S., resulting in 43,443 deaths and over 2 million injuries. Negligence is the most frequent cause of auto accidents. Some specific causes include distracted or inattentive driving, drunk driving, speeding, and reckless driving. Other causes include defective tires or brakes, malfunctioning traffic signals, and poorly maintained highways, roads and freeways.

Soft Tissue Injuries

One common injury that victims of car accidents suffer is known as the soft tissue injury. A soft tissue injury is an injury to the supporting parts of the body that are not bones. These parts include tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles. These soft tissues can be torn or stretched beyond their breaking point, causing pain, swelling, bleeding, and loss of function. Common soft tissue injuries include the following:

  • Strains (damage to the muscle or tendon)
  • Sprains (damage or tear of ligaments)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of bursae, which are small sacs of synovial fluid in the body)
  • Tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon)
  • Contusions
  • Bruises
  • Dislocations
  • Nerve damage

Soft tissue injuries do not appear on x-rays, so you may not know if you have been injured until symptoms appear. These symptoms can be immediate, but can take from a few hours to several days to present themselves. The two most obvious symptoms are pain and inflammation.


A very common soft tissue injury resulting from car accidents is Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) to the neck or whiplash. Even a small fender-bender can “whip” the head forward and then back with enough force to cause damage to the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the neck.

Whiplash Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), neck pain resulting from whiplash is the most frequently reported injury related to insurance claims in the United States. In 2012, minor neck injuries were reported by 66% of all bodily injury liability claims and 56% of all personal injury protection claims. Neck pain was reported as being the most serious injury for 42% of all bodily injury liability claims and 33% of all personal injury protection claims. Where neck pain was the most serious reported injury of a claim, the total cost in 2012 was about $9.3 billion. This figure represents about 25% of the total dollars paid for all crash injuries that year combined.

Factors Contributing to Whiplash Injuries

Rear-end collisions are the cause of most whiplash injuries. However, three factors contribute to the severity of the injury itself—height, gender, and seating position.

Height of the Victim

Height is a factor due to the head’s proximity to the auto’s head restraints. A shorter person will not have to adjust the head restraint to be protected. On the other hand, a taller person’s head may be too high to benefit from an unadjusted restraint and is more susceptible to whiplash.

Gender of the Victim

Studies have shown that females are 1.8 to 2.2 times more likely to suffer a neck injury in an automobile accident and are more likely to develop long-term complications than males. One study reported that only 38% of males who suffered whiplash injuries went on to suffer long-term problems compared with 55% of females. Some experts have speculated that the disparity is due to the difference in neck musculature—males, on average, have stronger necks than females.

Legal cases involving soft tissue injury or whiplash require aggressive legal representation. If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident and has suffered soft tissue injury or whiplash, contact America Law Center for the help that you need.

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