What is “Whiplash”?
Whiplash is a form of soft tissue injury which may occur in the neck after it has been jolted forwards or backwards suddenly, causing a sudden extension of the neck muscles.
If whiplash is caused due to an accident which is not your fault then it may be possible for you to pursue a “whiplash claim” to seek compensation for your injury.
Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash claims are commonly associated with road traffic accidents. This is hardly surprising, given that most road traffic accidents involve one vehicle crashing into something and coming to a sudden stop. Although drivers and passengers should be wearing seatbelts, seatbelts do not prevent the head from being thrown violently forward and it is this movement which causes the injury.
Consequently, a large proportion of road traffic accidents result in those involved sustaining whiplash injuries. Provided that you were not at fault for the accident, you may be entitled to pursue a whiplash claim for compensation.
A road traffic accident does not necessarily have to have occurred at high speed for a person to sustain a whiplash injury. Whiplash claims can arise from accidents that occurred at low speed, if it has caused a sudden “jolting” movement to the neck.
Although road traffic accidents are by far the largest cause of whiplash claims, whiplash can be caused by any sudden “jolting” movement to the head, and therefore whiplash claims may arise from other types of incidents.
For instance, if you were to fall and bump your head, there is a significant chance that this motion could cause a whiplash injury. Similarly, some contact sports such as rugby, ice hockey or boxing may result in whiplash type injuries, however, it may be difficult to pursue whiplash claims for somebody who is injured whilst participating in such sports.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The most common symptoms of a whiplash injury include, but are not limited to:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Reduced movement in the neck and pain on the extremes of movement
- Shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
(Please note that this list is not exhaustive and you may not necessarily suffer all of these symptoms)
If you do pursue a whiplash claim, you should try to keep a note of your symptoms as they develop, as this will assist your solicitor in ensuring they recover the correct amount of compensation for your whiplash claim.
It is vital, if you are involved in an accident, to obtain full details of all the other parties involved. At the scene of an accident you may not believe that you have been injured but, you may develop symptoms over the course of the next few days. If you have not obtained the details for the person at fault, this will make it harder for your solicitor to pursue a whiplash claim for you.
What Treatment May Assist Recovery From a Whiplash Injury?
If you have been involved in any type of accident and think that you may have suffered whiplash (or any other type of injury) as a result, you should always seek professional medical advice. This article is intended only as a guide to whiplash claims and you should follow your doctor’s advice regarding treatment of your whiplash injury.
Your GP may simply provide you with painkillers initially; however, if your symptoms are severe then you may be referred for physiotherapy to assist your recovery. Most whiplash claims see recovery achieved with painkillers and/or physiotherapy, within the space of a few weeks to a year; however, in more extreme cases symptoms can last a couple of years or even result in permanent inury.
If you pursue a whiplash claim, your solicitor will be able to seek private funding for any treatment which may assist in your recovery.
Additionally, it is usual during a whiplash claim that your solicitor would obtain a medical report from a specialist independent medical expert (typically a GP, Accident and Emergency Consultant or Orthopaedic Surgeon depending upon the severity of your injury). This medical report will confirm the injuries you have sustained as a result of your accident, may recommend further treatment, and will give a “prognosis” detailing how long, the expert believes, it will take for you to recover from your whiplash injury. The longer the prognosis period of recovery, the more compensation you should recover in settlement of your whiplash claim.
What To Do If You Think You May Have a Whiplash Claim?
If you consider that you may have a whiplash claim, it is important that you seek urgent legal advice.
You may find that you are contacted directly by an insurance company following a road traffic accident. They may seek to settle any claim which you may be considering bringing against them directly, without you first seeking specialist legal advice. Insurance companies do this to avoid having to pay legal costs but, it is of no benefit to you.
If you would like Macks Solicitors to handle your whiplash claim, please complete our 30-second claim or freephone us on 0800 980 9388 8am-9pm.