Neck Pain After Car Accident in North Carolina

While car accidents have a wide variety of physical, emotional, and financial consequences, neck injuries are among the most common. As the conduit between your head and the rest of your body, the neck is one of the most important components of the human anatomy. However, it is also among the most vulnerable. The fragile vertebrae within the neck house some of the body’s most vital nerves and blood vessels. Anytime this area sustains an injury, the consequences can be debilitating or even catastrophic.

If you have suffered neck pain after a car accident in North Carolina due to another party’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover significant compensation. Filing a car accident injury claim can allow you to recoup losses such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

The seasoned North Carolina auto accident attorneys at Hardison & Cochran can help you optimize your chances of receiving the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Call us today at (252) 333-3333 or contact us online for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to learn how we can help you.

Causes and Symptoms of Neck Pain

Neck pain after an accident can have several causes. In many instances, the injury results from a sudden back-and-forth motion of the head, especially in rear-end accidents. However, neck injuries can also occur due to direct, blunt force trauma from an object within the vehicle, compression due to the top of the head striking the steering wheel or dashboard, or landing at an awkward angle when the impact propels the body from the vehicle.

Whatever the cause, neck pain is not always immediately obvious after a collision. The adrenaline rush following an accident can mask the symptoms of neck injuries, and you might not realize you have come to harm until several days later. For this reason, seeking medical attention after a car crash is essential, even if you do not feel pain right away.

Some of the most common neck injuries stemming from car accidents include:

  • Whiplash – Whiplash describes a range of injuries affecting the soft tissues of the neck, including ligaments, tendons, and muscles. It is caused by the head suddenly jerking back and forth violently. Whiplash injury symptoms include neck pain when tilting the head, stiffness, reduced range of motion, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nausea, and pain or numbness radiating down one or both arms. Whiplash from a car accident can develop immediately or take days or weeks to produce symptoms.
  • Muscle Strains – The sudden force of impact can overextend or tear the neck muscles. Pulled muscle strains in the neck are classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the muscle fibers. Symptoms include localized pain and tenderness, muscle spasms, and limited mobility.
  • Herniated Discs – Discs act as cushions between the vertebrae. The trauma of a collision can cause discs to rupture or herniate, allowing the gel-like material inside to leak out. The bulging substance can put pressure on spinal nerves, resulting in severe neck and arm pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the extremities.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries – In severe crashes, bones in the neck can fracture and shift, compressing or lacerating the spinal cord. This can lead to severe neck injuries and paralysis below the point of injury, loss of sensation, impaired breathing, and other devastating effects.

Understanding Whiplash and Its Impact

Whiplash describes the sudden back-and-forth motion of the neck during a collision, similar to the movement that occurs when someone cracks a whip. It is one of the most common injuries sustained in auto accidents. The violent movement strains the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments beyond their normal range. This can damage nerve roots and delicate spinal structures.

Whiplash does not always produce immediate symptoms. The sprain or muscle strain in the neck is often masked by adrenaline and endorphins released after the crash. Pain and stiffness usually develop over the first two days but can take weeks to appear. Because every neck injury is different, it can often be difficult to answer the question, “How long does whiplash last?”

Common symptoms include:

  • Stiffness and decreased range of neck motion,
  • Throbbing or piercing neck pain that may radiate down the arms,
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull,
  • Dizziness or ringing ears (tinnitus),
  • Shoulder pain or numbness radiating down the arms.

In severe cases, a fractured vertebrae or herniated disc can pinch spinal nerves, leading to referred pain, muscle weakness, and tingling. Though whiplash sounds mild, it can have long-lasting effects like chronic pain, cognitive deficits, and psychological distress. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are key to avoiding permanent impairment.

Victims should seek an experienced personal injury attorney to help them recover damages for medical care, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Legal Rights and Pursuing Compensation

Anyone suffering neck pain due to a car accident in North Carolina that was caused by someone else must act to protect themselves and their legal right to claim compensation. If you have neck injuries after a crash, be sure to:

  • Maintain all medical records to demonstrate the nature of your injuries and the expenses you have incurred seeking treatment.
  • Follow all advice from medical professionals.
  • Document evidence of missed time at work by maintaining pay slips, tax forms, and correspondence with your HR department.
  • Speak with a personal injury attorney before providing a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company.
  • Refrain from posting about the accident or your injuries on social media, as the other side can use any public statements against you.
  • Consult with an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney as soon as possible.

You will begin the process of claiming compensation by filing a claim and negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If they do not offer a fair settlement, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and fight for what you deserve before a judge or jury.

Eligibility for Compensation

Car accident victims with neck injuries often wonder what criteria make them eligible for compensation. The most vital factor in any successful claim is the ability to prove that the at-fault party’s negligence directly caused the accident that led to your injuries. Proving the other party’s negligence requires a thorough investigation of the accident to gather evidence such as photographs of the crash scene, video of the collision, physical evidence, eyewitness reports, and analysis of accident reconstruction experts.

Your medical records also play a substantial role in determining your eligibility for compensation, and they must show a clear link between the crash and your neck injuries.

It is also worth noting that North Carolina follows the principle of contributory negligence for car accidents. Under North Carolina law, you are ineligible to recover compensation if your actions contributed to the crash in any way. A skilled North Carolina car accident attorney can protect your claim by working to demonstrate that the other party was entirely at fault for the vehicle accident.

If your personal injury claim is successful, you may be eligible to recover compensation for losses such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Reduced earning capacity if your neck injuries force you to take a lower-paying job
  • Physical and psychological pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

A knowledgeable North Carolina car accident lawyer can help you understand how much compensation you may be eligible to recover.

Statute of Limitations

North Carolina law allows car accident victims three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for compensation. Filing a lawsuit after that time period lapses may bar you from obtaining the money you deserve. Working with an attorney will ensure you do not miss any deadlines. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible can also give them ample time to collect evidence before it disappears and interview witnesses before memories fade.

Role of Personal Injury Lawyers

While many people believe they can handle a car accident injury claim on their own, whiplash victims who have legal representation, have a better chance of pursuing just compensation for a neck sprain. An experienced attorney knows how to handle all aspects of your claim, including:

  • Investigating the accident to gather the available evidence
  • Calculating the full value of your losses
  • Negotiating aggressively with the insurance company
  • Taking your claim to court if necessary

Knowing that you have a trusted legal professional can reduce your stress about the claims process so that you can focus on healing.

Get Legal Help for Your Car Accident Neck Pain Today

Living with chronic neck pain after a car accident can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. It can also be the source of significant financial stress. Seeking help from an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you hold the at-fault party accountable for your neck injury so you can move on with your life.

For the last 30 years, the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Hardison & Cochran have developed a reputation for providing much-needed support and advocacy for injury victims across North Carolina. Our team has a proven track record of getting favorable results for our clients, and we are ready to put our experience and skills to work for you. Contact our law firm today by phone at (252) 333-3333 or through our online form for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.