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Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that arise as a result of a road traffic collision. If you were a driver or a passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision and you find yourself suffering from whiplash, you can make a claim.
The personal injury team at JMW Solicitors is here to help you. We have been commended for the high level of service we offer and the clear and concise advice we provide for those who want to make a claim.
To speak to one of our specialists about a whiplash injury you have sustained during a road traffic accident, simply call us on 0800 054 6570. Alternatively, complete our online contact form and we will get back to you.
What Our Clients Say
Whiplash is an injury to the neck brought about by a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the body. Its impact cannot be seen with the naked eye, but this does not make it any less painful.
In most cases, the onset of its effects will be instant; however, it is not uncommon for symptoms to be delayed for between 24 and 48 hours while the body ‘regroups’ after the trauma and shock it has been through.
A visit to your GP or local A&E department is normally the first port of call after an accident, and, if you want to make a claim, the record of your visit to your GP or A&E may provide useful supporting evidence. More often than not, whiplash sufferers will be checked over and then discharged, possibly with analgesics or anti-inflammatories, depending on the severity of their injury. In more serious cases, X-ray, MRI or CAT scans could be required.
For more information on whiplash, take a look at our infogaphic.
What are Whiplash-Associated Disorders?
The term ‘whiplash-associated disorders’ (WADs) is another way of describing the symptoms of a whiplash injury. These vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors, including the type of accident that caused the neck injury, and the amount of force exerted on the neck experienced during the incident.
Disorders associated with whiplash vary in terms of seriousness, with the most severe cases contributing to Alzheimer’s disease, vision problems and damage to the brain. Some of the most common WADs include:
Anxiety and Emotional Trauma
The emotional and psychological consequences of road accidents and whiplash injuries are often overlooked, but can be long-lasting and serious. They include:
- Emotional disturbance
- Panic attacks
- Eating disorders
Anxiety and trauma resulting from whiplash can lead to recurring feelings of worry, nervousness or unease in certain situations, while also increasing the feeling of pain, which may slow down the healing process due to tension in the neck muscles.
Mental health issues can also interfere with your work and social life - jobs that involve driving can become impossible if severe anxiety is associated with being in vehicles. While memory and concentration issues can harm your working capacity, leading to a potential loss of income.
Cervical Vertebrae Fracture
The cervical spine, which is the part of the backbone located in the neck, consists of seven vertebrae and six intervertebral discs and is responsible for bearing the weight of the head and allowing it to move and turn. If this is fractured in an accident that causes whiplash, it can result in mobility problems and great discomfort.
Symptoms of a cervical vertebrae fracture include unexplained weight loss and fever.
Facet Joint Damage
The facet joints are the part of the spine that enable flexibility, making it possible to bend and twist from the back. Facet joint damage can be caused by sudden, excessive movement, and often leads to persistent, long-lasting pain.
This type of injury most commonly results from whiplash, which causes hyperflexion and hyperextension to the spine, resulting in inflammation and swelling around the joint.
Fibromyalgia is a condition characterised by severe pain across your entire body, hypersensitivity, exhaustion and lack of sleep, all of which can make it difficult to perform basic tasks.
This condition often caused by physically or emotionally traumatic events, including the kind of accidents that cause whiplash. Being affected by fibromyalgia is life-changing, as the condition as no known cure.
Loss of Vision
The effects of whiplash can spread further than the neck, with some people experiencing problems with their vision. Due to the intense motion during a typical whiplash incident, the muscles in the visual system or the part of the brain that controls vision can become damaged, affecting your ability to see properly.
Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain caused as a result of whiplash can have a serious effect on your life, and is usually experienced in the sacroiliac and/or lumbosacral joints. Both are highly important joints used in most movements, from walking to sitting down, meaning injuries in these areas can have a significant detrimental effect on a person’s quality of life.
Muscle Contraction Headaches
The most common whiplash-related headache is the muscle contraction headache. Typically, it manifests as an ache at the back of the neck, and is usually accompanied by a headache in the temples.
This condition is typically triggered by tension and stress, but there are also a number of pressure sites in the face, where touch or other triggers can also lead to an exacerbation of symptoms.
Muscle hyperflexion, more commonly known as muscle spasm, is a serious and long-lasting condition that often affects whiplash victims. It can be incredibly painful and can have an impact on your ability to work or carry out basic tasks.
Serious muscle spasms suffered following whiplash may feel like cramp or a twitch; however, sufferers have also complained of a burning sensation in their neck.
The sudden movement involved in a whiplash incident can cause damage to the nerves, which can often be long-lasting or even permanent. Symptoms of nerve damage include:
Numbness, tingling or burning sensations
- Pain in specific parts of the body
- Difficulty moving parts of the body
- Coordination problems
- Lack of sensation
- Occult Facet Injury
Occult facet injury is a term used to describe damage to a part of the spine that cannot be identified easily via an X-ray scan. When these type of injuries occur as a result of whiplash, they can be difficult to treat, meaning the sufferer experiences persistent pain and discomfort.
Osteoarthritis is the name given to the group of diseases where the joints in the bones degrade, becoming incredibly painful as they are no longer protected by cartilage. As the condition worsens over time, it can often be difficult to prove that the condition was a result of whiplash, although it is not unheard of.
Pins and Needles
Pins and needles (or paraesthesia) is the prickling or burning sensation that can often be felt when you have stood or sat for a long time with a limb crossed or rested on. When experienced after a whiplash injury, the stinging sensation of pins and needles can be a symptom of severe nerve damage, and therefore needs to be thoroughly examined.
Retinopathy, or eye damage, is a rare symptom of whiplash that can occur when the hyperflexion movement that causes injury to the neck puts significant force on the retina - the nerve cells at the back of the eye. Since the retina is responsible for transforming light waves into visible images, this can result in serious vision problems.
Syringomyelia is a side-effect of whiplash injuries that can cause numbness and pain, as well as potentially lead to significant spinal cord damage. It is a fluid-filled cyst within the spinal cord, with symptoms including:
- Loss of reflexes
- Loss of sensitivity to pain and temperature
- Muscle weakness and wasting
- Many months and years may pass after an injury before syringomyelia develops, so when you are evaluated for the condition, it is important to let the doctor know you have had a spinal injury in the past. They will then be able to assess whether this injury caused the syringomyelia by performing an MRI scan.
Temporomandibular Joint Disease
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a chronic inflammation of the joint that connects the skull and jaw, is a common byproduct of whiplash that can lead to long-term problems. Like whiplash, the condition is not always immediately apparent, but common symptoms include:
- Ear pain
- Eye pain
- Neck pain
Additionally, sufferers will see a reduction in jaw function, with the opening and closing of the jaw becoming painful, and the range and extent of motion becoming extremely limited. In addition, you may also experience snapping, clicking or popping sounds caused by misalignment of the jaw.
Vertebrae and Disc Damage
Damage to the vertebrae or spinal discs can result in significant pain in the back, radiating down the legs, which becomes worse when carrying out basic activities such as bending over or sitting down for an extended period. This kind of injury can be a consequence of whiplash, and often requires extensive physical therapy to make a complete recovery.
Many sufferers tend to recover after a couple of weeks, but in certain cases, the symptoms may persist for longer. Fortunately, there is a whole range of treatments available that provide relief by manipulating the neck and back area. These include:
It is not uncommon for victims to sometimes resort to homeopathic remedies, including acupuncture and herbal medicine, if there is a chance that it will provide them with some relief.
How Much Compensation Could I Receive?
The amount of compensation awarded for a whiplash injury differs from case to case as several factors need to be taken into account, such as the severity of the injury, how long it will take you to recover from the injury and any financial losses you may have experienced as a result of the accident. You can see an estimation of the amount of whiplash compensation you could receive by taking a look at our compensation calculator.
How Long Does a Claim Take?
It is difficult to determine an exact timescale for a claim due to the number of variables involved. However, we aim to have claims settled quickly and with the best possible outcome. Unfortunately, if responses have to be chased from insurance representatives or third parties, then the claims process can take longer.
If I Claim for Whiplash, Can I Claim for Other Injuries?
Yes. If you have sustained other injuries in the accident that caused your whiplash injury, you are entitled to make a claim for them. Any claim you make will take into account all injuries caused by a particular accident, provided you advise your lawyer of all your injuries when you make a claim.