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Avoiding whiplash injuries

West Virginia drivers might know that rear-end collisions could cause whiplash injuries to vehicle occupants. As a result, victims might experience chronic or short-term pain that interferes with work and routine tasks. However, understanding the mechanics and necessary response to a hyperextension injury may help.

Statistics shows that rear-end crashes occur about every 17 seconds in the United States, and whiplash may result even at a speed of 10 mph. Since whiplash involves the rapid extension of the head, using restraints may reduce this effect, but older vehicles may lack such restraints. Taller individuals may also be more prone to whiplash if the head restraint is not adjusted properly.

Head restraints have improved since 2005 when federally issued standards for their effectiveness were put into place. By 2009, most new vehicles supported an appropriate minimum height for drivers and front seat passengers. Consumer organizations recommend that head restraints be aligned immediately above the ears as well as be positioned 4 inches or less to the back of the head in order to reduce the impact of whiplash.

Negligent drivers who do not reduce speed or are distracted may cause rear-end collisions, and despite precautions, hyperextension injuries might still happen. In some cases, pain from whiplash or other injuries may persist for months or even years, and the costs associated to treat these injuries could quickly mount. After a wreck, an injured individual may want to seek legal assistance in order to recover compensation from the at-fault motorist. In addition to medical expenses, victims could also be reimbursed for their lost wages and property damage.

Source: American Chiropractic Association, "Whiplash," Accessed on Jan. 11, 2015

Source: ConsumerReports.org, "How to save your neck in a rear-end crash," Accessed on Jan. 11, 2015

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