What Are the Grades of a Whiplash Injury?

young man sitting in his car rubbing his neck after whiplash injury
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The value of a whiplash injury claim depends in large part on the severity of the injury. Although it is often considered a “minor” injury, whiplash can lead to a variety of symptoms—from chronic pain to neurological impairments.

Whiplash is painful, complex, and frequently misunderstood. It often occurs in car accidents when a rapid jerking motion results in damage to the soft tissue, ligaments, and/or bones surrounding the neck and upper back.

We’ve written before about the average payout for whiplash injuries. Now we’re going to examine how whiplash is diagnosed, what the grades of the injury are, what treatment may entail, and your legal options if you were hurt through the fault of another.

Patrick Daniel Law serves personal injury victims in Houston and throughout Texas. If you were injured in a car crash or other incident caused by someone else’s negligence, we encourage you to (a) seek medical attention promptly so whiplash and any other injuries can be diagnosed and (b) consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Find out what your whiplash injury claim may be worth. Call Patrick Daniel Law at (713) 999-6666 today for a FREE case review.

How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?

There is no definitive test for whiplash. Instead, diagnosis is usually a process of elimination. Doctors will rule out other possibilities until whiplash is determined to be the most likely diagnosis. While imaging such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans may not show that whiplash has occurred, they can help eliminate other possible conditions.

Sometimes a whiplash injury affects more than the soft tissue. Imaging tests may reveal damage to the discs and vertebrae, both of which should also be treated as soon as possible.

How Is Whiplash Classified?

To help grade and better understand the severity of whiplash injuries, experts created The Quebec Classification Of Whiplash-Associated Disorders. On this scale, a whiplash injury is classified from Grades 0–4 according to the symptoms:

  • Grade 0: No pain or symptoms.
  • Grade 1: Pain, stiffness, and tenderness around the injury but no physical signs of an injury.
  • Grade 2: Beyond pain, stiffness, and tenderness—which may be more pronounced than in Grade 1 whiplash—Grade 2 whiplash also includes musculoskeletal signs of injury, such as bruising and/or swelling. Muscle spasms can also occur at this stage.
  • Grade 3: With Grade 3 whiplash, there are also neurological signs beyond the pain and swelling. These can include numbness, tingling, headaches, vision problems, trouble swallowing, vertigo, muscle weakness, and more.
  • Grade 4: Whiplash is classified as Grade 4 when there are fractures or dislocations. These injuries tend to exacerbate all of the symptoms from lower grades, particularly neurological issues.

What Is the Treatment for Whiplash?

Treatment for whiplash generally falls into two categories: pain management and aiding the healing process. Whiplash injuries can be severe. As such, pain management—especially in the early stages of recovery—is critical.

Getting the tissue, ligaments, and vertebrae to properly heal can call for a variety of treatments, some of which can be very expensive. Depending on the grade of whiplash a patient has suffered and how he or she responds, whiplash treatments may include:

  • Hot and cold treatments: While immobilization used to be one of the most common forms of initial treatment, usually with a cervical collar, movement is what physicians currently recommend immediately following a whiplash injury. This, combined with cold treatments—and later, heat treatments—can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: PT is very common when treating neck injuries like whiplash. Therapists use a variety of techniques, from passive treatments like massages to active treatments like targeted exercises, to help restore the function of soft tissues in the neck.
  • Novel nerve treatments: Beyond using medication for management, especially when it comes to long-term pain, there are also treatments and therapies available that can stimulate or block nerves to help ease the pain associated with whiplash. Two of the most common are transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy and radiofrequency ablation.
  • Spine surgery: While most whiplash injuries cannot be treated with surgery, there are some situations where Grade 4 whiplash may call for it.

While this hopefully gives you a better sense of the range of treatment options available, you should always rely on expert guidance from your doctor to establish a treatment plan for managing your pain and healing the underlying cause of the pain.

Read More: What Happens If You Leave Whiplash Untreated?

Compensation for Whiplash Injuries

It is not uncommon for people who suffer whiplash to experience chronic pain and other ongoing problems. Extensive—and costly—treatment may be required, and your ability to work may be affected as well.

You should not have to shoulder the burden of these costs yourself if someone else is responsible. If you suffered whiplash through no fault of your own (such as in a rear-end collision), an accident lawyer can pursue a whiplash injury claim on your behalf.

Compensation you may be entitled to for a whiplash injury includes:

  • Medical expenses to date
  • Lost wages to date
  • The cost of future medical care
  • Loss of earning capacity, if your ability to work is impacted
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

It is crucial to document all aspects of your diagnosis, treatment, and any bills you receive. This documentation will serve as the basis for your whiplash injury claim.

You will also need to establish that the other party is at fault for your injuries. This may require photos and other evidence from the scene, eyewitness testimony, and more.

Get Help with Your Whiplash Injury Claim

Insurance companies often dispute claims involving whiplash. Because the injury is difficult to diagnose, settlement offers tend to be low. To make matters worse, accident victims are often unaware of the compensation they may be due.

At Patrick Daniel Law, we recognize the significant effects a whiplash injury can have. We will meticulously and strategically build a strong whiplash injury claim on your behalf and fight mercilessly for a fair settlement or, if necessary, an award at trial.

Contact Patrick Daniel Law today for a FREE case review.

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