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What is whiplash?

Some types of car accident injuries are immediately apparent. Others develop or become apparent only some time has passed after the accident. These are sometimes known as soft tissue injuries.

For example, traumatic brain injury, one of the most serious forms of soft tissue injury, comes about when a sudden blow to the head causes brain tissue to swell inside of the skull. If not immediately treated, this kind of swelling can lead to permanent damage to the brain tissue.

Whiplash is perhaps the most common and well-known form of soft-tissue injury associated with motor vehicle accidents. Also known as cervical sprain or hyperextension injury, whiplash is especially common among people who were injured when their car was struck from behind. In these cases, the force of an impact from behind causes a person's head to whip back and forward. This can cause injury to muscles, ligaments and even vertebrae.

In some cases, accident victims don't notice the effects of whiplash until hours or even days later, when they begin to feel tightness or dull and aching pain in the neck. Some may experience dizziness, headaches, vertigo or even problems with memory and other cognitive functions.

Relatively minor cases can last for no more than a few days, but serious cases can last for a year. Some particularly bad cases can cause chronic pain that last longer than a year.

Serious whiplash injuries can require expensive medical treatment. They can also make it hard to work, hurting income and quality of life. When these injuries are the result of an accident caused through the negligence of another driver, the injured may hold the other driver liable for these and other damages.

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