Making whiplash claims
Every year, over 200,000 people suffer whiplash injuries. Of these, 2,000 people will suffer permanent injuries, such as back or neck problems. In some very serious cases, the neck can fracture or break causing serious injury such as paralysis or death.
Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by over-extension. It is most commonly caused by rear-impact crashes but can also occur in other types of vehicle collisions and occasionally from other causes such as a skiing accident. If the head is not supported by a head restraint in a car accident, it will be flung backwards as the head will not accelerate forwards as quickly as the torso.
Whiplash can also bring other conditions with it. A 33 year old woman suffered whiplash when she was involved in a car accident. After the accident, she suffered from random ‘drop attacks’ where she fell to the floor as if asleep. After investigation, doctors diagnosed her with vertiebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI). This is often caused by over-extension of the neck, as in a whiplash injury. It is a condition where the arteries in the neck are not circulating enough blood to her brain. Since the accident, she has suffered two heart attacks and seven bouts of temporary paralysis. Now she has trouble walking and needs to take oxygen every day.
Head injuries can also occur at the same time as a whiplash injury. Three quarters of head injuries are defined as mild. Mild head injuries can bring symptoms that include headaches, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, tiredness, anxiety and depression. A head injury is classified as moderate if it results in loss of consciousness for between 15 minutes and 6 hours. Symptoms usually improve within 9 months but in the meantime, symptoms can include trouble concentrating, as well as the same symptoms as for mild head injuries. This can mean taking time off work.
A properly adjusted head restraint is an important way of minimising head and neck injuries in case of a collision. The top of the head restraint should be level with the top of your head and as close as possible to the back of your head (no more than 2 inches). If the top of your head is above the top of the head restraint then your head could be forced back over the top in a collision.
Some seats come with a whiplash protection system where the whole seat moves backwards if there is a crash to minimise the impact on the head and neck.
UN regulations state that all cars, goods vehicles and buses should be built with head restraints fitted to the driver’s seat and front passenger’s seat. All head restraints in the car should also be of a minimum height and lockable. There is no UK legislation that prevents vehicle owners from removing head restraints once they have purchased a car and driving without them. Nor are there any regulations to prevent buying or selling a second hand car that does not have fitted head restraints.
Every day, around 1,200 people make whiplash claims and insurers pay out nearly £2 billion every year in compensation (figures from the Association of British Insurers). If you have been involved in a car accident, swop details with any other vehicles involved and try to get the contact details of any witnesses. Also write down as the details of the accident as soon as you can afterwards. You may also want to take some photos if you have a camera phone or camera to hand. If you believe you have a whiplash injury, make sure you speak to a doctor. They will be able to set you on the road to recovery. You may need painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. A ‘collar’ or neck brace is now discouraged as a treatment for whiplash – your doctor is more likely to recommend gentle exercise and stretches.
Your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver(s) involved may contact you and insist that you use a solicitor recommended by them. They will then receive a payment from that solicitor for this ‘referral.’ You are not obliged to follow their recommendation. It is wiser to choose a solicitor with a good reputation and many years of experience dealing with whiplash claims. The solicitor the insurance company refers you to will not necessarily be the company with the best customer service or the highest level of expertise. These things are more likely to come from a solicitor who does not ‘buy in’ work and instead relies on their reputation, such as Macks Solicitors.
Speak to one of our experts about the possibility of making a whiplash claim. We are here to guide you through the process and achieve the compensation payment that you deserve. Our service is ‘No Win, No Fee’.