If you are the victim of a minor accident like a rear-end collision, you may walk away with nothing more serious than jangled nerves and a stiff neck. The discomfort is minimal, so you simply go on with your life.

However, more than a year passes, and your symptoms now include back pain. Can you still file a claim? How will the statute of limitations affect you?

About the aftermath

The impact from a vehicle crash however minor is a shock to the human body. Certain repercussions may not appear for weeks or months afterward. This is why seeking prompt medical attention is so important after any kind of accident.

More than simple whiplash

Whiplash-associated disorders, or WAD, can include headaches, shoulder pain and back pain in addition to the usual neck stiffness. With spinal degeneration as a focus, researchers in Japan conducted a 10-year follow-up study with people who were still dealing with WAD as the result of vehicle crashes. All participants had developed higher levels of neck pain, headaches or arm and shoulder numbness over the years. For the research, all had physical exams as well as cervical spine MRIs. The study found that cervical spine problems were worse for women than for men. However, the good news was that the whiplash injuries had not increased spinal degeneration in any of the participants. Treatment for symptoms associated with WAD often includes physical therapy to help with pain and stiffness.

A time limit

Under the Indiana statutes of limitations, you must take action within two years if you wish to file a lawsuit or other civil action against the party responsible for your injury. Keep in mind that a stiff neck may be the forerunner of a more serious condition you could not have imagined at the time of the crash. Observing the two-year boundary will give you an opportunity to obtain compensation that would be a great help with your future—and perhaps ongoing—medical expenses.