What Does Whiplash Look Like on MRI?

Man getting in an MRI to check for neck injury and then wearing a neck brace

One of the most common injuries car accident victims endure is whiplash. A whiplash injury can occur when your vehicle is hit from behind or suddenly stops due to a collision, causing your head to suddenly jerk back and forth. This causes the soft tissues in your neck muscles to strain or tear. You may initially believe your injuries are minor, only to experience extreme pain and other symptoms in the hours and days after the collision.

For this reason, it is crucial that you get medical attention immediately after the collision. Your healthcare provider will likely order further testing, including a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your dedicated car accident attorney with The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys can help you use these images to build a powerful case against the liable party and recover maximum compensation for your damages.

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When You Might Need an MRI After a Car Accident

After being involved in a serious car crash, your physician may order an MRI. The MRI uses radio waves and magnetic fields to create images of the vertebrae, soft tissues, and muscles in your shoulders and neck. There are many injuries related to whiplash that you could also be experiencing, such as:

Muscle Strains

When whiplash affects your neck muscles, they are often severely strained. Your MRI will determine whether there is any tearing or swelling in the neck muscles. Your healthcare provider may recommend prescription medication to treat pain, order bed rest, and refer you to a physical therapist for additional treatment.

Herniated Discs

Your whiplash injuries could cause the discs in your neck to rupture or bulge which can put pressure on your nerves causing severe pain. MRIs are capable of detecting these herniations.


In catastrophic car accidents, there is always a possibility that the neck bones or vertebrae could be fractured. MRIs can identify or confirm these fractures, allow physicians to assess the severity of your injuries, and determine appropriate treatment options.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when your neck’s spinal canal narrows due to your whiplash injuries. MRIs can detect spinal stenosis and allow healthcare providers to determine whether surgical intervention, medication, or therapy is the best treatment option.

Do not wait to get medical attention after a car accident. Your whiplash injuries could be more serious than they may seem. Failure to get medical help soon after the accident could give the liable party reason to accuse you of embellishing your injuries. Getting help now not only helps reduce the likelihood of worsening injuries but also gives you medical evidence to support your case from the start.

How Whiplash Injuries Present in Car Accidents

An MRI could help determine the severity of your whiplash injury. Whiplash can present as several types of cervical spine and neck injuries, including:

  • Ligament sprains
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging discs
  • Vertebral fractures
  • Nerve compression

Sometimes, an MRI is the only way to get a complete understanding of the damage to the soft tissues in your neck and cervical spine. Your healthcare provider will likely recommend an MRI soon after the accident to identify invisible conditions. However, you may begin to experience symptoms of whiplash and related injuries soon after the accident. Expect emergency medical technicians and doctors to ask you questions about your medical history and complete a physical exam prior to diagnosing and treating your car accident injuries.

The earlier your whiplash injuries are diagnosed, the sooner we can begin managing your symptoms and get you the treatment you need to regain as much function and mobility as possible. Your MRI results will likely be used to help demonstrate the extent of your injuries to the insurance company, judge, and jury when you fight to bring the at-fault party to justice.

Treatment for Whiplash Injuries After a Car Accident

There are a variety of treatment options that may be available for whiplash victims depending on the severity of your injuries. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Heat and ice applications
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Surgical intervention
Pro Tip
Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan as prescribed. The defense will be looking for opportunities to argue that you should not be awarded the compensation you are requesting. By following your physician’s treatment protocol, you are demonstrating that you are taking your case and health seriously.

Explore Your Legal Options After a Whiplash Injury With Help From a Reputable Car Accident Lawyer

After suffering a serious whiplash injury, you may have considerable medical expenses, personal property damages, and other extreme financial losses. Additionally, the emotional distress of the collision and every other way your life has been affected by the accident can make it difficult to live normally. Our team is prepared to help you explore your legal options. There are several potential ways we can go about holding the liable party accountable and maximizing your payout.

Filing a Car Insurance Claim

Most whiplash car accident cases start with filing a claim with the insurance company. California follows fault insurance laws under the California Insurance Code – INS § 11580.1. This means when you are filing a car accident claim you will do so with the liable party’s insurance company as opposed to yours. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, all motorists are required to carry certain types and minimum amounts of auto insurance coverage as follows:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $5,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident

If motorists purchase the bare minimum amount of coverage, there may not be enough to fully meet your needs. The insurance company may also attempt to prevent you from recovering the compensation you deserve by delaying the processing of your claim, accusing you of exaggerating the extent of your injuries or tricking you into accepting a settlement that doesn’t make a dent in the value of your damages.

Fortunately, your whiplash attorney will be ready to hold the insurance company accountable. We will negotiate with insurance adjusters until we reach a fair and reasonable settlement. Any damages the insurance company does not pay you for can be sought after through alternative options.

Remember, auto insurance does not cover every loss. It typically only offers protection for medical expenses and property damages, and only up to the maximum amount of coverage the policyholder purchased. For this reason, you should never plan on getting the most out of your case by filing an insurance claim alone.

Pursuing a Car Accident Personal Injury Claim

While many whiplash injury victims hesitate to pursue personal injury claims, justice through the civil court system is often one of the best ways to ensure the at-fault party is held accountable to the fullest extent of the wall. Under California personal injury laws, you have the right to seek compensation for a variety of economic and non-economic damages as described under California Civil Code 1431.2. Some of the different types of compensatory damages that may be available for whiplash victims include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Emotional distress
  • Medical expenses and equipment or devices
  • Home health accommodations and care
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement
  • Embarrassment from extensive skin scarring
  • Reputational damage

Whiplash victims may also find their final settlements increased after being awarded punitive damages. Unfortunately, punitive damages are not awarded in every case. Their purpose is to punish at-fault parties and deter similar instances in the future according to California Civil Code Section 3294. If your whiplash injuries were caused by a distracted driver, for example, the jury may not award punitive damages. However, if you were hit by a drunk driver who had multiple DUI convictions on their criminal record, punitive damages may be warranted. Your car accident lawyer can offer further insight into what you can expect when you file your personal injury lawsuit after reviewing your damages in detail.

Whiplash Car Accident FAQ

Your whiplash injuries could have a devastating impact on your life. You may be anxious to hold the liable party accountable for their negligence but have questions or concerns about how the personal injury claims process works.

For this reason, our legal team with The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys has compiled this quick FAQ discussing whiplash injuries and car accident claims below. If you have additional concerns we do not cover here, do not hesitate to contact our office for a private consultation where we can discuss the individual details of your case.

How long do I have to file my whiplash claim?

After a whiplash injury, you generally have up to two years from the accident date to file your personal injury lawsuit according to the statute of limitations under California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1. Missing this deadline could have catastrophic consequences for your claim. The court system will often refuse to try cases that have not been filed before the statute of limitations deadline expires.

Your whiplash attorney with our firm has extensive experience handling cases similar to yours. There are specific conditions in which we may be able to get the statute of limitations temporarily paused or “tolled”. We often need to request a toll in the statute of limitations when whiplash victims are not diagnosed with injuries related to the accident until days or weeks after the collision. If our request is approved, the statute of limitations will begin from the date of your diagnosis, not the date of the accident.

What happens if I share fault for the accident?

Sharing fault could substantially affect the amount of compensation you are awarded according to California Civil Code 1714. The state follows a pure comparative negligence system. You are not barred from recovering compensation for your damages but your settlement will be reduced accordingly. You can expect a deduction that correlates with your percentage of fault.

For example, if you were driving 5 mph over the speed limit when you were struck by a drunk driver, the judge might find you 15% liable for your whiplash injuries. This means your settlement would reflect a 15% deduction, allowing you to recover just 85% of your award. For this reason, it is pertinent to have a knowledgeable and trial-tested car accident attorney handling your case so fault is accurately evaluated.

How much does it cost to hire a whiplash lawyer?

The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys works for injury victims on contingency. We recognize that money may be tight during this difficult time in your life. You should not need to jeopardize your personal finances when you have already been through so much. We never require a retainer down or have our clients cover the costs associated with pursuing their claims.

Instead, we pay for all court filing fees, evidence analysis, and the costs of hiring any expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. Then, a percentage of your award will cover our attorney’s fees as described in our contingency agreement. The best part is if we lose, you will not have to pay anything out of your pocket for our efforts. We aim to make the claims process as simple and risk-free as possible for our clients.

Turn to Orange County’s Leading Car Accident Law Firm

How your whiplash injuries present on your MRI scan could have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Combined with your physician’s prognosis, expert testimony, and MRI results, we may be able to clearly demonstrate the extent of your injuries and your right to full and fair compensation for your damages and suffering.

When the insurance company is trying to settle for less than you deserve or the at-fault party is hoping to avoid being found liable at trial, your premier Orange County car accident attorney from The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys will stop at nothing to demand justice for your whiplash injuries. When you are ready to fight for the compensation that is rightfully yours do not hesitate to contact our legal team to request a free, no-obligation consultation. You can reach us by phone or through our quick contact form to get started on your claim as soon as today.

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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