The Injuries of Personal Injury Claims: Soft Tissue and Whiplash Injuries

Author: Bob Mertig, Claims Consultant 

Motor vehicle collisions, falls, and other incidents giving rise to personal injury claims can cause a variety of injuries, but certainly the most common injuries are injuries to “soft tissues”, including muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Often referred to generically as “muscle strains and sprains”, these injuries are usually caused by the sudden acceleration or deceleration of parts of the body, which results in the sudden stretching or tearing of these soft tissues.

In a motor vehicle crash, when soft tissues are injured along the spine in the neck or back area, this is called a “whiplash injury”.[1] In the field of personal injury law, ” whiplash injuries” are a type of soft tissue injury. At Allen and Allen, we help clients suffering from whiplash and other soft tissue injuries every day.

One of the most common treatments for whiplash soft tissue injuries is medication. Pain medications, muscle relaxer medications, and anti-inflammatory medications are all used to help alleviate the pain that whiplash injuries cause and to promote healing. Another common treatment is physical therapy. Different modalities or types of physical therapy include stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, heat packs, ice packs, massage, electrical stimulation, and use of controlled machine-assisted movements and exercises . A skilled therapist will know when to use which modalities, and in what manner, to help achieve the best chances for recovery for a particular injured patient . Sometimes therapy may not seem to be helping; in fact, it may even cause more pain initially as the injured tissues are loosened up and mobilized for recovery. Usually a course of physical therapy is prescribed for several visits a week for a number of weeks, because therapy requires a series of treatments over time before lasting improvement is accomplished .

Unfortunately, most whiplash injuries cannot be seen on an x-ray, CT scan, MRI, or other radiographic study . Accordingly, it is very important that a person suffering from a whiplash or soft tissue injury tell their treating medical provider – including doctors, nurse practitioners, physician’s aides, nurses and therapists – about the pain they are experiencing and the location of the pain on their body when they present for treatment. Sometimes a thorough examination of the injured area will reveal bruises, swelling or spasms, which will help the examiners – and the insurance company or a jury – to understand the extent of the injury .

Soft tissue injuries are painful and can last for extended periods of time. Most such injuries will recover over a period of weeks or months, but many may last as long as a year. Some never completely heal and become permanent.

During recovery, there are often periods of improvement and then periods of exacerbation. Rarely is recovery a consistent gradual improvement to full recovery; there are almost always ups and downs along the way. If you have been injured in a car crash and have suffered whiplash injuries or other soft tissue injury, you should seek medical attention immediately and then follow your doctor’s advice by obtaining the follow up medical care you need.

In the aftermath of an auto accident, obtaining immediate medical attention, fully and accurately explaining your injuries and symptoms so that your health care provider can documenting the nature and extent of your whiplash and other injuries in your medical record, and following the treating medical providers’ recommendations are all important. Taking these actions will both expedite your recovery and subsequently assure that you receive fair compensation for your soft tissue injury claim .

At Allen and Allen, we specialize in assisting people who have been injured through no fault of their own by someone else. If you’ve been injured and need help, please give us a call today .

About the Author: Bob Mertig is a claims consultant working in the Petersburg Office of the Allen Law Firm. Under the supervision of Petersburg car accident lawyer Paul Hux, Bob assists clients in resolving their personal injury claims in Petersburg as well as Hopewell, Colonial Heights and Southern Virginia.


[1] The term “whiplash” comes from the mechanism of injury.  When a car is struck from behind, the car is accelerated forward and an occupant’s body goes backward into the seat due to inertia.  Since the head and neck are often not supported, they go back further.  As the acceleration of the car from the impact slows down, the occupant’s body is propelled forward faster than the car and the torso then “whips” the head forward.  The spine, connecting the head to the tailbone, is then “whipped” forward, similar to a person “cracking  a whip”.  For a graphical illustration of this process, see diagrams at http://paindoctor.com/what-is-whiplash/ and  http://www.physio-pedia.com/Whiplash_Associated_Disorders.  For a more complete explanation of whiplash injuries visit: http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/neck-strain-whiplash.