Whiplash is a neck injury caused by forceful, rapid back and forth movements of the neck, creating a whip-like movement. Whiplash is most commonly seen in people involved in motor vehicle accidents from rear end, side-impact or frontal vehicle collisions, but can also be caused by force, work injuries and through other accidents.
Although severe whiplash injuries can result in paralysis or even death, the majority of whiplash injuries suffered following a motor vehicle accidents are described as mild to moderate. Even mild to moderate whiplash injuries can have a significant effect on an injured persons spine resulting in painful symptoms being experienced over an extended period of time, interfering with everyday activities.
The severity of a whiplash injury is graded using the Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) assessment based on signs and symptoms and is detailed as follows:
Complaint of neck pain, stiffness or tenderness only. No physical sign(s).
Neck complaint and musculoskeletal sign(s). Musculoskeletal signs include decreased range of movement and joint tenderness.
Neck complaint and neurological sign(s). Neurological signs including decreased or absent tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.
Neck complaint and fracture or dislocation.
How does a whiplash injury affect an individual and what are some common symptoms?
The most common symptoms of whiplash are pain and stiffness in the neck. Often such symptoms don’t develop for a number of hours after an accident or even up to 48 hours later. Headaches are also a common symptom of whiplash injuries, especially at the base of the scull. Such injuries may be one-sided (unilateral) or experienced by injured people on both sides (bilateral). Often the pain and stiffness felt in the neck extends down into the shoulders and arms as well as to the upper back and upper chest. In more severe cases of whiplash individuals can experience dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and difficulty swallowing following a whiplash injury.
Although mild cases of whiplash injury can resolve with the passage of time, moderate to more severe cases can persist over an extended period of time, with individuals in more extreme cases experiencing symptoms of vertigo (the sensation of the room spinning), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), irritability, fatigue, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can severely affect a person’s ability to work and quality of life.
The following group of people are considered to be high risk cases when it comes to long term (chronic) whiplash injuries:
- Individuals over 65 years of age.
- Individuals who experience more severe symptoms such as numbness or paresthesia running down into their arms from the neck.
- Individuals involved in high speed collisions involving cars travelling in excess of 100kms an hour before the point of impact or cars that have rolled following an accident.
The long term effects of whiplash injuries?
Early diagnosis of a whiplash injury is important for appropriately treating the condition. A severe whiplash injury and failure to properly diagnose and treat the injury can result in long term injuries and disabilities which can have serious consequences for the individual and their ability to undertake their daily routines. As whiplash injury symptoms are often slow to develop, many people don’t seek the appropriate treatment they require at an early stage.
A long term whiplash injury lasting for more than six months requires a multi-disciplined treatment regime including pain medication, physiotherapy and can lead to more invasive forms of treatment being required, including cortisone injections and even surgery and in some cases.
A study performed by the Aarhus University in Denmark found that the long-term consequences from a whiplash trauma can be effectively predicted if injured persons are subdivided into different risk groups shortly after a car accident. Such research suggests that early diagnosis and treatment is vital in effectively dealing with whiplash injuries.
Can I claim compensation for a whiplash injury following a motor accident and what should I do next?
If you have suffered a whiplash injury in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence you may be entitled to receive compensation for your loss.
The amount of compensation you may recover will be determined by the severity of your injury as well as your level of impairment. Even if you believe you may have suffered only a mild whiplash injury you may be entitled to compensation for your loss.
If you are suffering from a whiplash injury our experienced lawyers at Brydens Lawyers are ready to provide you with advice on commencing a claim for compensation against the responsible CTP insurer. There are strict time limits which apply to motor accident claims in New South Wales so it is important to seek legal advice at an early stage.
For over 40 years now Brydens Lawyers has been operating a ‘No Win – No Fee”, policy which, simply put, provides that if a personal injury or compensation client is unsuccessful in their claim then Brydens Lawyers will not raise a tax invoice for having acted on behalf of the client. That is, if the claim is unsuccessful we do not get paid. More information about how this works can be found on our No Win – No Fee page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_wp_custommenu title=”Start a claim” nav_menu=”77″ el_id=”test-id” el_class=”test-class”][/vc_column][/vc_row]