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Whiplash Versus Concussion: How To Tell the Difference

Whiplash Versus Concussion: How To Tell the Difference

Head injuries are some of the most common types of damages your body can receive from a car accident. Since your head is the only vital body part not well-secured by the seatbelt, it has a higher probability of getting hurt during a crash. To help you better understand the distinctions, we have assembled a guide over how to tell the difference between a concussion and whiplash.

Both of these injuries are most common in rear-end collisions, so if you or a loved one has been a victim of a rear end auto accident, reach out to a personal injury lawyer at The Patel Law Firm today. We have a qualified car accident lawyer located in Corpus Christi, TX, who can assist you with your legal questions and consult you on whether or not you’re entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.


Whiplash is caused when muscles and tendons in the neck are strained and stretched further than normal. This happens when the head is violently forced in a forward or backward motion after a car accident. In most cases, it’s caused by a forward motion because the headrest on the seat prevents your head from quickly moving backward.

The pain and soreness caused by this can be instant, or it could show up well after the day of the auto accident. One might not feel the pain until a day or two later when the body begins to heal. The muscles in the neck which were quickly and forcefully stretched out from the whiplash heal in the same manner as other muscle, causing extreme tightness and soreness.


Concussions are more severe than whiplash and need to be addressed as soon as possible. Luckily, due to light being shed on this topic in professional sports, more people are aware of how serious concussions can be.

Similar to whiplash, concussions occur with quick, forceful movement of the head. Specifically in concussions, the brain is jolted inside of the protective fluid it sits in and hits the side of the skull. While this damage can be caused by a violent movement such as whiplash, it’s more likely to occur when your head forcefully comes into contact with another object. In car accident cases, concussions are caused by an inflated airbag, hitting the head on the steering wheel or dashboard, hitting the window or roof in a rollover accident, or forcefully hitting the headrest in the vehicle.

This type of brain injury is very serious and can cause headaches, cognitive issues, brain damage, or other brain-related issues. These symptoms don’t always show up immediately after a car accident, and it is important to monitor symptoms for time after suffering a head injury. If cognitive issues continue after suffering a concussion, it may be necessary to consult with a neurosurgeon.

The Key Takeaway

While both whiplash and concussion injuries should be examined as soon as possible by a medical professional, one is easier to recover from the other. Contrary to popular belief, these two injuries are not mutually exclusive. Whiplash involves the muscles in the head, neck and shoulder region, while concussions involve actual brain injuries. Knowing how to tell the difference between a concussion and whiplash is vital if you have been involved in an auto accident. If you believe you have suffered whiplash or a concussion due to the negligence of another in a car accident, contact an attorney to discuss your legal rights. The accident attorneys at The Patel Law Firm will review your matter and help get you on the right path to recovery. Contact a Corpus Christi car accident attorney today for a free consultation.