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What To Do After an Auto Accident Neck Injury

WRITTEN BY:
Steven Matz
November 22, 2022 | Car Accident

Key Takeaways

  • Several different types of neck injuries can occur in a car accident due to the force of impact involved and the complex structure of the neck itself.
  • Whiplash is one of the most common car crash neck injuries and occurs when your neck is rapidly forced into an unnatural back-and-forth movement.
  • Filing a claim for whiplash in Michigan involves no-fault benefits under PIP coverage and will help pay for medical bills, prescription costs, lost wages, and more.
  • Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws allow you to sue the negligent driver if they were more than 50% at fault for the accident that resulted in a death, permanent injury, serious impairment, or loss of income.
  • To prove pain and suffering from your neck injury and obtain compensation in Michigan, you will need to show that the at-fault driver was negligent.

Whiplash, a type of neck injury, is one of the most common injuries caused by a car accident. The impact of a sudden collision can jolt the neck forward, causing various other injuries as well. While sometimes these injuries can be minor, other times they can create the need for surgery or long-term physical therapy. If you sustained a neck injury during a car accident, do not hesitate to call the compassionate lawyers at Matz Injury Law. We can guide you through the process of documenting your injury, dealing with insurance, and more to get you full compensation for your injuries.

Man holding his neck exiting a car

What to Do If You Think You Have a Neck Injury

Following a car accident and in the immediate days ahead, take the following steps if you think you might have an injury to your neck.

1. See a Doctor Immediately

It is imperative that you see a doctor immediately to determine if there is a neck injury. A diagnosis will lead to medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident so you can avoid further long-term complications. This will also establish a connection between your injury and the accident, which you must prove to receive compensation.

2. Document Your Symptoms

Be sure to document all your symptoms as soon as possible. Tell them to a medical professional so they will be in your medical records. These records will be an essential part of your neck injury claim.

3. Hire a Car Accident Injury Attorney

Seek the legal advice of an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer to determine what to do next. Your lawyer can evaluate your case, compile relevant evidence, calculate damages, and negotiate a maximum settlement with the insurance companies.

What Will Happen If I Put Off Treatment for My Neck Injury?

Delaying treatment for whiplash or other serious car accident neck injuries can cause future complications. The neck pain accompanying a whiplash injury can worsen, leading to a lower quality of life and additional health issues like chronic neck pain and decreased mobility. You may be unable to return to work and encounter financial hardship for your family as a result.

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Can I File a Claim For Whiplash After a Michigan Car Accident?

You can file a claim for your whiplash after a car accident in Michigan. Essentially, you can file for benefits through a no-fault claim with the insurance company under PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. However, it is important to note that Michigan PIP law requires that you provide reasonable proof of your injuries first.

These no-fault benefits will be beneficial in helping you with

  • Medical bills and prescription costs
  •  Lost wages
  • Mileage and transportation costs to and from medical appointments
  • Any attendant care services or household replacement needs
  •  Related out-of-pocket expenses

Prior to agreeing to anything by the insurance company, you should speak to a car accident attorney first. Insurers are notorious for offering lower amounts. An experienced Michigan car accident lawyer knows how the insurance company will try to reduce or refuse your claim for compensation and can fight on your behalf.

Can You Sue for Whiplash Injury in Michigan?

Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws allow you to sue the negligent driver if they were in excess of 50% at fault for the crash that resulted in a death, permanent injury, serious impairment, or loss of income.

At the core of these lawsuits is proving that the injury constitutes some serious impairment to normal body function. The focus will be on what in your life is impaired or affected as a result of the injury.

For example, one of our clients, a mechanic, had to give up his own ATV, snowmobile, and boat because he could no longer work on his own stuff, let alone that of his customers.

Common Symptoms of Whiplash after a Car Accident

Some common symptoms of whiplash injuries include:

  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Upper back pain
  • Tenderness in the upper back, shoulder, or arm
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dizziness

Types of Compensation Can You Receive For Whiplash Injuries

After sustaining a neck injury, you may be able to sue in certain circumstances for pain and suffering and excess medical expenses.

Pain and Suffering Compensation

To receive pain and suffering compensation, you must show that your pain is due to your whiplash injury and constitutes some “serious impairment of bodily function.”

Excess Medical Expenses

Due to the treatment and surgery options surrounding neck injuries, medical bills can escalate rapidly. As such, in your lawsuit, you may be able to sue for these as excess medical expenses.

How Medical Expenses Affected One of Our Clients

One client of our law firm had three surgeries in the span of six weeks because the doctors had to go in from both the front and back of his neck to reach his injury. Eventually, he underwent neck fusion surgery, which resulted in the elimination of mobility in a part of the neck. This type of surgery leaves the areas just above or below the fusion more susceptible to injury because pressure is now distributed over fewer vertebrae. In addition, it left a visible scar on the front of his neck, which is considered an additional injury on top of the actual damage.

For clients who have already had neck surgery before their accident, we tell them to go back to their surgeon to confirm that the hardware is still intact and that there has not been an injury to the level above or below. Doing so lets us determine what compensation to seek for excess medical expenses.

How Do I Prove Pain and Suffering After a Michigan Car Accident?

Doctor reviewing x-ray scan of whiplash neck injury with patient

Proving pain and suffering after a Michigan car accident is one of the biggest challenges you may face. Some evidence of pain and suffering may appear in the form of any of the following:

  • Physical pains and aches
  • Adverse mental health effects associated with disfigurement or scarring
  • Chronic anxiety and stress
  • Insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) involving nightmares and panic attacks

To prove a pain and suffering claim in Michigan, you well be required to prove the following:

  • The at-fault driver was negligent.
  • The at-fault driver was at least 50% responsible for the accident.
  • The at-fault driver’s negligence is the cause of your injuries.
  • As a result of the accident, you suffered an impairment.
  • You experienced pain and suffering as a result of the accident.

Supporting Testimony

Testimonies and documentation can serve as proof in your case. You or your family and friends should be able to testify that there is a noticeable difference in behavior after your injury and that there is continuous pain. Having a doctor, surgeon, or therapist also weigh in on your behalf to talk about the pain and other adverse effects will be beneficial.

Documentation

Documentation will play an essential role in proving pain and suffering. Such evidence may include:

  • Prescription records and receipts, including strong pain medications
  • Medical records relating to any scans, tests, treatments, or surgeries, and including doctor’s notes concerning your physical and mental pain in the aftermath of the accident
  • Personal notes or journals describing both your physical pain and mental challenges following the accident

Protect your neck injury claim. Schedule a free consultation with Matz Injury Law.

 7 Types of Neck Injuries After a Car Accident

The force of impact in vehicle collisions can damage the complex structure of the neck in a variety of ways. Here are seven common neck injuries after an auto accident.

1. Whiplash

Whiplash occurs as the head and neck are forced out of their normal range of motion, snapping back and forth quickly. Accident victims can suffer damage to the muscles, soft tissues, nerves, and even the facet joints such as the jaw.

2. Slipped or Herniated Disc

Intervertebral discs in the cervical spine can slip, herniate, bulge, or rupture during a car crash. These discs serve as shock absorbers protecting the vertebrae. If slippage occurs, you risk compression of the spinal cord nerves. With a ruptured, herniated, or bulging disc, the jelly-like substance inside the disc protrudes, compressing nerves and crowding the vertebrae.

3. Neck Sprain or Strains

Two common types of neck injuries are strains and sprains, which occur with the tearing or stretching of the soft tissue in the neck.

Neck strain can cause muscle injury and damage the connecting tissues, tendons, and facet joints.

Neck sprains involve the tearing of ligaments. These ligaments are what connect the bones to other bones.

4. Cervical Spondylolisthesis

Cervical spondylolisthesis is when one or more of the vertebrae dislocate or in some way slip out of regular alignment, often compressing the spinal cord or nerves. Chronic pain in the neck or shoulder can result if left untreated.

5. Neck Fracture or Compression

X-ray image depicting neck injuries caused by car accident

A neck fracture, or cervical spine fracture, happens when a bone breaks or cracks. This type of injury has the potential to damage spinal cord nerves and lead to paralysis or death.

A compression fracture is when the vertebra shatters, potentially lodging small pieces of the bone in other areas. Compression fractures may cause injury to the spinal cord.

6. Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue damage usually means injury to the muscles or ligaments in the neck. A doctor’s examination and diagnostic tests may be necessary to determine if you need treatment.

7. Spinal Cord Injuries

Damage to the spinal cord or nerves can affect your ability to move your arms and legs. This type of injury requires extensive medical attention and can result in temporary or permanent paralysis.

Additional Resources

Compensation for Death in Car Accident: Michigan Wrongful Death Guidelines: Find out what you need to know when someone dies in a Michigan car accident, including the deadline for filing a claim, who can make that claim, and the types of claims you may be able to file.

What to Know About Michigan Case Costs and Attorney Fees: Gain an understanding of common lawyer fee structures and the maximum allowable fee outlined by Michigan law.

How to File in Small Claims Court for Auto Accidents in Michigan: Learn about the Michigan mini-tort claims process, the basic rules of the small claims court, and the steps to take to file for your accident.

Guide To Filing Deadlines for Car Accident Lawsuits in Michigan: Learn about the filing deadlines for Michigan auto accidents and how a car accident lawyer can help.

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

At Matz Injury Law, we advocate solely for accident victims, so you can count on us to prioritize your needs. We also have decades of legal experience representing auto accident victims using our extensive knowledge of Michigan personal injury and insurance laws.

At Matz Injury Law, we also charge a lower fee than most other Michigan car accident lawyers. While most law firms charge a 33% contingency fee, we only charge 22%. We want you to keep more money in your pocket.

In addition, a Matz attorney will also travel to where you are or meet you on Zoom. After a car accident, you may be hesitant to drive again or in too much pain to visit a lawyer’s office. We know this is a challenging time in your life, and we aim to make it as painless as possible.

Testimonials

“Many thanks to Jared and the staff at Matz Injury Law! You definitely helped ease a very stressful situation. I really didn’t have to do anything; you folks did it all, which I appreciated very much. It’s never a pleasant experience when someone runs a red light and you end up with life-long injuries… and I sure didn’t want to have to deal with the insurance company too. Two thumbs up from me!” – Kim B.

Steve Matz was there when I needed him. Nobody expects to be a victim of a car accident, but when I found myself in that situation, it was overwhelming. Steve made everything easy. Steve did not accept the insurance company’s first offer. He held out and got me a better settlement. Steve is very kind and professional. I highly recommend Matz Injury Law.” – Sharon K.

Matz injury law was the best decision I have made. Steve has been so helpful through this whole process and always there for me and my husband. He made everything quick and easy! I would highly recommend Matz Injury Law.” – Linda N.

Pay Nothing Out of Pocket for Your Neck Injury

What might have seemed like a minor injury at the time of your accident could end up costing you a fortune if you need surgery or intensive physical therapy. Prevent insurance from underestimating your neck injury with the help of our personal injury lawyer. Our Southfield law firm knows how much your injuries are worth and can help you maximize your compensation to cover medical bills and more. Call Matz Injury Law today at 1-866-226-6833 or use the online contact form and schedule your free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Still Make a Whiplash Claim if I Was the Passenger?

You should be able to make a claim if you were a passenger in a Michigan car accident. Even if the crash did not appear to be severe, you should still consider seeking treatment, as even minor crashes can result in whiplash.

What Types of Accidents Can Lead to Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries?

Any type of car accident that involves a sudden stopping motion may cause whiplash. Here are some of the most common types of accidents that can result in neck injuries:

  • Rear-ended accidents
  • T-bone accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Truck accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
How Long Do I Have to File a Whiplash Claim in Michigan?

In Michigan, you only have three years to file a whiplash claim from the date of your accident. There are limited exceptions to this, including circumstances in which the driver was under 18 at the time of the accident. Contact an attorney as soon as possible so they can handle your case from the beginning and not worry about the statute of limitations.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.