Whiplash and car accidents go hand in hand. For most of us who are lucky enough to have avoided being in a crash, we tend to think of whiplash as someone getting some form of neck pain. Utter the term and people will typically envision someone wearing a neck brace or unable to turn their head around to talk to you.
Whiplash comes in many forms and could possibly result in someone taking legal action depending on the severity of the injury. Let’s look at why understanding whiplash matters, and what someone should do if they (or someone they know) experiences whiplash after a car accident.
Whiplash is an umbrella term
Two people could be in the same car for the same accident, get diagnosed with whiplash, and have completely different symptoms. This is down to how we view whiplash, and it helps to know what the key points of difference are.
Whiplash injuries can harm either the bones or soft tissue around the neck and spine, due to hyperflexion (where the head snaps backs) or hypertension (where the head is pushed forward). The example of those two people both diagnosed with whiplash could see one having something like fatigue and back pain, while the other has stiffness and headaches; completely different things, but the same diagnosis.
There is also whiplash-associated disorder which looks at the more non-visible signs of a whiplash injury, i.e. depression, stress, poor sleep, anxiety. These symptoms can have a negative effect on someone, and knowing why it comes to be is important.
Whiplash is not instantaneous
When a crash has happened, emotions and sensations are heightened. Some people get a rush of adrenaline as the body tries to figure out how to react. That’s why most people won’t notice they have whiplash till up to a day afterwards. Symptoms like those previously mentioned tend to start showing after a day or so. It is best to liken it to the feeling of muscles reacting a day after exercise. Many people will think they’re fine, before waking up the next morning with immediate pain that is from more than just a poor night’s sleep.
With this slow but still sudden on-set sensation, it is important to know how to get whiplash, diagnosed, treated, and recorded. In most cases, an individual will find they have soft tissue damage from whichever way the head was forced to move due to hyperextension. The flexion will never be the same in any two crashes (again, remember that whiplash is an umbrella term), which is why seeing your GP/doctor is a good idea.
They’ll be able to fully examine your condition, pinpoint where your pain is coming from, and then provide their thoughts on what the best course of action is. If it is seen as minimal, a doctor might prescribe some painkillers and provide advice on how to rest and stretch the muscles as they recover. In more moderate to severe cases, a patient may be referred onto a physiotherapist and have an X-ray/ MRI taken to highlight symptoms.
Any type of diagnosis or results of scans are important if someone is to make a claim against another person for causing whiplash. There must be proof that the individual has indeed been harmed and it was not their fault.
Knowing when whiplash isn’t your fault
Individuals with whiplash from a car accident may feel some degree of guilt or embarrassment from the injury, which can lead to not wanting to talk about it, get help, or enquire about compensation. Even those who were hit due to a rear-end crash or side-swipe can still be put off the idea as it can feel as though they’ll be causing a nuisance or wasting time.
Talking with an injury lawyer can help immensely to assuage those feelings and get clarity on what can be done. Meeting with one isn’t an instant sign that one is interested in claiming compensation, but it does demystify the crash and help those affected see if there are options available which can help.
For example, if someone involved in a crash, gets whiplash and can’t work for a set period, it will have a big impact on family life. The majority of people who get a whiplash injury can be looking at just under six months of recovery time. Thankfully, only a small percentage (an estimated 6%) take more than a year to see a decent recovery.
Speaking with a claims specialist will also help someone understand how much compensation they could get from a case. While every whiplash injury is different, there are standards in place which give a rough idea regarding pay-out levels.
Want to know more about the claim process?
If you are interested in learning more about how one would go asking for help from a personal injury solicitor, I would recommend reading some of the information available from Thompsons Scotland, a renowned UK based firm which helps individuals with whiplash.
If you’re not based in the UK, I recommend looking for local representation which operates on a no-win, no-fee basis, as it will help avoid any financial issues in what can be a long drawn process.