Can I File a Lawsuit for a Whiplash Injury?
Any number of injuries can happen in a car accident. Your soft body is bouncing around in a box of hard plastic and steel, and the contact you make with the car can cause damage. One of the less obvious damages you can incur is whiplash. It is not an injury that the outside world will necessarily see, but you will definitely know when it happens.
Can you sue when you’ve suffered whiplash? Absolutely. Any injury suffered in a car accident can result in a lawsuit, no exceptions.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash normally occurs when your car has been hit from behind. Often, the impact will send your head moving backwards quickly. Then a sudden stop, either by hitting the breaks or colliding with something ahead of you, sends your head forward. The weight of your head flying forward pulls your neck. The entire motion resembles the action of a whip, hence the name.
Whiplash happens internally. There might not be any bruising or any outward, visible signs of the injury, but it is a serious problem that takes a real toll on the body.
One of the main symptoms a whiplash sufferer will experience is pain. It can be excruciating, depending on the severity of the event. The neck has been stretched beyond its limit, and there are a number of surrounding muscles and bones that are affected.
Most obviously, you can experience neck pain. It can be chronic, continuous pain, or it can be triggered by where and how you turn your head. You may also experience headaches which, again, can be chronic or happen depending on your body’s position. Pain in the shoulders and back is also possible.
The intricate working of bone and muscle in the neck is affected by whiplash, and the injury can cause the neck itself to malfunction. You can lose your range of motion, either because your neck simply won’t move properly or because it hurts too badly to move a certain way.
The very stability of your neck could be damaged in a car accident. Whiplash, at its most extreme, can make it difficult to hold your head up or move it at all.
Liability in Oklahoma
If you choose to pursue compensation, be aware of your involvement in the accident.
When determining liability in a personal injury case, Oklahoma uses a comparative negligence model. In this system, the court looks at the specifics of the accident and assigns a percentage of blame to the people involved. For example, a pedestrian is hit by a car, but they were crossing when the crosswalk sign was red. The driver should have been more careful in looking out for people, but the pedestrian should not have been walking. The court determines that the pedestrian is 40% responsible for the accident, and the driver is 60% liable.
After the court assigns percentages, the plaintiff (the person suing for damages) may receive a percent of the total compensation based on their fault. In our example, the pedestrian was 40% responsible for the accident, so they can receive only 60% of the total reward. In Oklahoma, plaintiffs cannot receive any money if the court finds them to be 51% responsible or more.
In a whiplash case, be cognizant of what you were doing when the injury occurred. If you were at a stoplight, minding your own business, you have a strong argument for suing the person who hit you. If you got whiplash because you hit someone else, it’s going to be much harder to argue that you deserve compensation.
If you have suffered a whiplash injury from a car accident, give us a call for a risk-free, no-cost consultation. Our number is (918) 347-6456, or you can contact us online.