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When casually talking about the subject of car crashes, it’s a common joke to talk about all the bones that you’ll say have broken to make a car accident case more serious; thus earning you more money and placing more stress on a would-be assailant.

And when referring to specific bones, we’ll talk about how we’ll stress the pain in our neck, the back, and various joints coupled with wails of agony and a hunched over walk (because you need to sell the injury, right?)

All humor aside, in an actual car accident, the injuries referred to as “whiplash injuries” are nothing to laugh about.

And while there are some injuries you will feel immediately post-accident, there may be others that you won’t notice until the passage of time. Unfortunately, the existence of these unnoticed injuries can be detrimental not only to the state of your bone and nerve health, but how you handle them can influence the outcome of your case.

The only way to be sure you’ve uncovered all “whiplash injuries” is by seeking medical help immediately after the accident, while following up with scheduled appointments. Even if you feel decent after the accident or a couple days after, the full extent of the injury could unveil itself either gradually or all at once at a later date.

At that point, if you didn’t immediately seek a post-accident screening, you’ll wish you had, but it’ll be too late to completely control the negative effects of the physical injury or its influence on your case.

One should give you a fair warning though. Remember those exaggerated injuries you joked you’d wail about after an accident? Consider that investigators will be looking for evidence of one of two types of insurance fraud such as “soft fraud,” when an insurance policyholder states that he or she has an injury that does not exist, or that their real injuries are more severe than they actually are.

Soft fraud, which is also appropriately known as “opportunistic fraud,” is more common than its cousin “hard fraud;” where policyholders will make claims that happen to be legitimate through staged accidents. There have even been crime rings that would set up an accident where a driver will deliberately hit their brakes so the driver behind (who is in on this) gets injured so they can both eventually benefit from the subsequent injury claim.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been cracking down on this. In fact, in the state of Nevada, a person who is found to have committed either type of insurance fraud will be guilty of a category D felony, face up to 4 years in prison and can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5000.

Even after that, you can be ordered to pay restitution to the victim (insurance company or driver,) so remember that whether real or fake, whiplash injuries are no joke.