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More than 3 million people are injured in car accidents in the United States every year. While some injuries may be obvious immediately after an accident, there are several injuries caused by auto accidents that you might not notice right away.

A whiplash injury is one of the most common injuries caused by an auto accident when an individual’s car is hit from behind. In a whiplash injury, the head jerks backward and then forward with such force that it overextends the normal range of motion of the neck.

Whiplash Injury Warning Signs

A whiplash injury can range from moderate to severe, but there are some warning signs that typically appear within a day of the auto accident.

Neck Pain and Stiff Neck

After the initial impact of the car accident, your body releases endorphins that increase your heart rate and help you get through the stress of assessing the damage to your car, exchanging insurance information, filing a police report and deciding what to do next. Once the initial stress of the situation has dissipated, the most common early warning sign that you may have a whiplash injury is neck pain or a stiff neck. Muscles tighten up as your body attempts to protect the injury and prevent future injuries. Many people feel stiffness or pain in their shoulders or upper back as well.


Most headaches resulting from a whiplash injury begin at the base of the skull and shoot pain up the back of the head or toward the ears. A whiplash headache can manifest itself in both a sharp pain and a dull headache.

Dizziness or Blurred Vision

Another common warning sign of a whiplash injury is dizziness or vertigo caused by nerve damage to the neck. Many victims of dizziness after a car accident explain that it seems like the room is spinning. This dizziness can last from a few minutes to several days if left untreated.

Sleepiness or Extreme Fatigue

In stressful siturations, our adrenal glands release cortozol – giving us the “boost” of energy we need to make quick decisions and remain alert to answer questions. However, when we return to a safe place, our muscles relax and need to recharge. If we’ve experienced an injury, our bodies need to harness what little energy is left to begin the healing process. This can leave you feeling extremely tired or sleepy.

Difficulty Sleeping

After a car accident, once you finally settle down for some much-needed sleep, the pain and stiffness in your neck can make it hard to sleep.

If you are experiencing any of these warning signs after an car accident or if you think you’re suffering from whiplash, it’s important to seek treatment. Motorists insured in the state of Florida have personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their auto insurance policy as required by the state. Insured motorists can seek treatment for their injuries without it impacting their monthly premiums.