Category: Soft Tissue Injuries

What Is Whiplash?

Car Accident Attorney Las Vegas

Whiplash From Car Accidents

Whiplash is a non-medical term that refers to a neck or upper back injury from violent or forceful rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. The whipping motion overstretches the joints, muscles and ligaments of the neck and back beyond their normal range of motion. The most common cause of whiplash injuries is car accidents, but there are other causes, such as falling and blows to the head.

Is Whiplash Serious?

Whiplash may also be called a neck sprain, strain, or soft tissue injuries. These terms may give the impression that this condition is not serious, but it can be. While most people recover from whiplash, the condition may lead to chronic neck pain or even surgical intervention for some people. Older people, and those who already have neck problems such as arthritis, may experience more serious whiplash than a younger person. As people age, muscles and ligaments lose their flexibility and strength and thus, are more sensitive to the whipping movements.

By some counts, more than a million Americans suffer injuries from whiplash each year. Many recover, although it may take awhile — weeks, even months. But about half of those affected continue to have neck pain a year or more later, and about 10% may end up with chronic pain that interferes with work and everyday life.

Harvard Health Publishing

Symptoms of whiplash include pain to the neck and back, pain radiating to the shoulders and arms, “pins and needles” sensation down the arms or fingers, stiffness, headaches, ringing in the ears (i.e., tinnitus). Other symptoms could include memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness/irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or depression. An accident victim can develop these symptoms immediately after the crash or even days later. However, just because the symptoms develop later or does not appear to be severe doesn’t mean the condition is not severe. Even though symptoms may develop late, the condition may still become chronic.

Common Treatment of Whiplash

Typically, whiplash is treated with chiropractic treatment, range of motion exercises, physical therapy, cervical traction, pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants. When whiplash symptoms persist, doctors may order CT or MRI scans of the spine. While these radiological studies may assist doctors in trying to identify the source of the pain, it’s not always the case. As reported by Harvard Health, “[S]ome people with persistent pain have perfectly normal imaging test results, while others whose imaging tests show abnormalities are pain-free. So it’s not as straightforward as one might think to link an imaging abnormality to symptoms, let alone to whiplash trauma.”

Whiplash and Low Speed Accidents

Whiplash can occur even from low speed car accidents. In fact, Harvard Health reports that whiplash injuries often occur during low-speed collisions.

Whiplash injuries often occur during low-speed collisions, but low speeds can translate into a lot of force. For example, if you are sitting in a stationary car that’s hit from behind by a car moving at just 10 miles per hour, the force from the collision can briefly put 9 Gs of force on your neck (a G is the gravitational “pull” of the earth). It’s not difficult to imagine how one or more structures of your neck could be injured under these circumstances.

Harvard Health Publishing

However, insurance companies and defense attorneys dispute the idea that low speed crashes can cause whiplash. Often times, insurance companies equate low property damage to low speed to no injuries. Studies published in medical journals, however, have shown this argument to be a myth.

If you or a loved one have suffered soft tissue injuries from a car accident or a fall, call and speak to an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney. If you call D.R. Patti & Associates, you will regularly speak to and meet with a skilled Las Vegas accident attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies‘ “delay, deny, defend” strategies.

Documenting Your Injuries, Pain, and Suffering When You Can’t See Your Health Care Provider

Documenting Injuries - Pain Diary

With many of us practicing social distancing to help flatten the curve, we have come to learn that many people have been unable to continue their treatment for their accident-related injuries. Many people with accident-related injuries have regularly scheduled doctor, chiropractic, physical therapy appointments. If they miss some appointments, their healthcare providers would normally give them instructions on exercises they can do at home that may help relieve some of their sometimes. Unable to obtain medical treatment, accident victims may be concerned whether their injuries would linger longer or worsen.

Missing health care appointments, however, cause another concern for their personal injury cases. Auto insurance companies tend to argue that a person who is truly hurt, that person seeks medical treatment and that a person who does not seek medical treatment is a person who is not truly hurt. The foregoing is a faulty syllogism, as there are many reasons why an injured person may not seek medical treatment or may have gaps in their treatment. Nevertheless, accident victims must be prepared to respond to such arguments.

One way to counter such arguments and demonstrate injury is to maintain a pain journal. Some physicians will instruct a patient to maintain a written log (journal) of pain-related information and to bring this with them to their office visits. The physician reads the patient’s journal to identify trends in the pain and responses to treatment. The following types of information should be recorded on a daily basis:

  • Your symptoms that day
  • Time when your pain started or got worse.
  • What you were doing at the time the pain started or got worse.
  • The intensity of your pain from 0 to 10, 0 being no pain to 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt
  • How long did the pain last
  • What you were doing at the time the pain stopped or got better.
  • Did you take any medication (over the counter or prescription) and what was the dosage
  • Time you took the medication
  • Whether the medication worked and how long did it take to work
  • Any other thing you did to reduce the pain, such as ice/heating pad, TENS, bed rest, wearing a brace, etc.
  • If you had to skip out on any activities, whether work or social engagements, because of the pain or other symptoms

To learn more about what you can do to document or prove your injuries from a car accident, call the experienced Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates for a free consultation.

What are soft-tissue injuries?

Soft Tissue Injuries

Car Accident Attorney Las Vegas

A soft tissue injury is damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons in a human body. Such an injury could be a sprain or strain. It could also involve bruises or contusions, swelling, or a tear. Because soft tissue injuries do not involve bone, the best method of imaging soft tissue is through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Insurance companies like to make it seem that “soft tissue” injuries are minor. They do that as part of minimizing an accident victim’s injuries and the compensation they have to pay for those injuries. Insurance companies also tend to stereotype all soft tissue injuries in the same category. What we commonly hear from insurance companies is that soft tissues generally only take 6 to 12 weeks to heal. If an accident victim is still in pain from their soft tissue injury, the insurance company refuse to consider any symptoms 12 weeks after an injury. Again, they do this to minimize what they have to pay to the injured victim.
In reality, however, soft tissue injuries vary greatly in nature and severity. Some soft tissue injuries may be quite painful and debilitating, necessitating surgery. Also, often times, more severe injuries, such as spinal nerve damage, appear and are diagnosed as soft tissue injuries in the beginning.

Soft tissue injuries are categorized as either “acute” injuries or “overuse” injuries. “Acute” soft tissue injuries arise from trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. “Overuse” soft tissue injuries are those that gradually develop over time from activities, such as sports or repetitive use.
The following are some conditions that are considered soft tissue injuries:

  • A sprain is a form of acute traumatic injury involving a stretch or partial or complete tear or rupture of ligaments. Ligaments are the tissues that connect the end of one bone with another. When a joint or ligament is taken beyond its functional range of motion, a sprain can result. Think of an ankle sprain that results from twisting of the ankle. Sprains happen at joints (ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders, etc.) and look like contusions with swelling and bruising. Sprains can also happen to the neck and back. What is commonly called “whiplash” is a sprain of the neck or back ligaments that results when those ligaments are overextended. Whiplash commonly occurs during a car crash. In some cases, pain is the primary indicator of injury for a sprain.
  • A strain is an acute traumatic injury to a muscle and/or tendon. Tendons are the tissues that attached the muscles to the bones. The injury could be a stretch or a partial or complete tear. Swelling or inflammation, cramping, spasms, and weakness can accompany strains.
  • Bruises or contusions. These conditions involve damage to muscle fibers or connective tissue without breaking of the skin. It can result in skin discoloration, which is caused by blood pooling around the injured tissue. Contusions can also be accompanied by swelling. It can result from a direct blow or repeated blows or from falling.
  • Lacerations, abrasions, avulsions. These conditions occur where the soft tissue has been separated and leads to some form of bleeding. These conditions are generally considered open wounds that can lead to infections.

Acute soft tissue injuries generally undergo the following three phases:

  • Acute Phase. The acute phase occurs right after the trauma that causes the injury. This is the phase where the pain, bleeding or swelling are at its worst. During this phase, the body is more concerned about protecting itself from further injury. Inflammation is the body’s most basic attempt to protect itself.
  • Sub-Acute Phase. In the sub-acute phase, the body transitions to repairing the injured tissues. The body is repairing the injured tissue with what is called scar tissue.
  • Late Stage. This phase is also called the remodeling phase. Healing continues during this phase. As the injured person stretches and uses their newly formed or healed tissues, the body may realize the new tissues are not yet strong enough. The body then will automatically stimulate additional new tissue to help strength and support the healing tissue. Scar tissue formed as a result of a soft tissue injury is generally considered less strong and less flexible than the original tissue. This is so despite any form of treatment. Some experts say this stage can take up to 3-12 months after the initial injury, and some even say it could take up to 2 years, or become chronic (i.e., permanent).

How long each of these stages take depends on the severity and location of the injury. The more tissue damage, the longer it will take to heal. Some parts of the body, such as the low back and legs, tend to remain in the acute phase longer.

If you or a loved one have suffered soft tissue injuries from a car accident or a fall, call and speak to an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney. If you call D.R. Patti & Associates, you will regularly speak to and meet with an attorney who knows how to deal with insurance companies “delay, deny, defend” strategies.CLICK HERE TO READ MORE REVIEWS

Low Property Damage in Las Vegas Car Accidents

Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorneys

The extent of property damage in car accidents is important in determining how a car insurance company deals with personal injury claims. What most Las Vegas personal injury attorneys know and the public may not is that low property damage in Las Vegas car accidents equates to low offers and a take it or leave it attitude from insurance companies.  Such cases have often been categorized as MIST cases—Minor Impact Soft Tissue injury cases. The experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates would agree with such classifications, as low property damage in Las Vegas car accidents does not necessarily equate with minor impact, but that is a blog for a different day.

But insurance companies do equate minor property damage with low impact, as part of their “delay, deny, defend” strategy. They developed this strategy in the mid-1990s as a way to increase their profits. By taking a hardline approach, insurance companies made the car accident cases with less property damage more expensive and more time-consuming to fight. They take this approach regardless of whether the accident victim is an eggshell plaintiff or how other extenuating circumstances. An eggshell plaintiff is someone who is more susceptible to injury. The insurance company’s goal is to deter MIST or claims for personal injuries based on low property damages.

Unfortunately, automobile insurance companies are winning. Quite a few Las Vegas personal injury attorneys are now less inclined to take cases with low property damage in Las Vegas car accidents.  Even when an attorney has taken on such a case, some are less inclined to litigate even when the insurance company offers a mere pittance, sometimes offers below the personal injury client’s medical bills.  On some few occasions, automobile insurance companies lose, and sometimes lose big, but these occasions do not make enough of a big dent in the trillion dollar insurance industry pockets to stop this strategy. According a book by Rutgers law professor, Jay M. Feinman, property/casualty insurance companies collect $440 billion in premiums and pay only about $250 billion in claims each year.

The “delay, deny, defend” strategy works well for the automobile insurance industry in Las Vegas because they know Clark County jurors’ reputation as conservative.  To me, Clark County jurors in general are skeptical.  They generally have bought into the idea that a person cannot be possibly injured. They tend to see persons making personal injury claims as simply out to make money, seeking a reward rather than compensation.  A CNN article referenced a case where the victim of a rear-ender who incurred $15,000.00 in medical bills and lost wages received only $1,500.00 because the jury did not believe she could be injured when her car only had dents.  According to the article, three of the jurors said that blow-up photos of the minor property damage sealed the plaintiff’s fate.  That case could very well have occurred in Las Vegas.