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Road Traffic Accidents > Whiplash Compensation > Whiplash Injuries Explained

What causes whiplash?

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Find out what causes a whiplash injury and how to claim compensation if you have suffered whiplash in an accident that wasn't your fault.

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Whiplash is, in the majority of cases, a relatively straightforward injury that will resolve itself completely within a relatively short length of time following your accident. But for some accident victims, whiplash or a related chronic pain condition can become a life-long problem.

What is whiplash?

The word whiplash describes a type of neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head. This can be in any direction, forwards, backwards or sideways. This causes damage to the soft tissue in your neck, which is composed of tendons (tough fibres connecting muscle to bone) and ligaments (tissue that connects two bones together at a joint).

Why do road accidents cause whiplash?

Whiplash almost always occurs during low or moderate speed collisions, when the driver and any passengers are thrown forward and backward with significant force.

Rear-end collisions, where one car drives into the back of another (this can happen when cars are waiting at a junction or where heavy traffic means drivers need to slow down suddenly) are a major source of whiplash-type injuries. The forces involved and the sudden movements of the head and neck in this type of road accident are easily enough to strain or sprain the soft tissue in your neck, even if the speeds of the vehicles involved are relatively low.

As an injury that primarily affects the soft tissue in the neck and back, it can be several hours after an accident before the common symptoms of whiplash (neck pain, tenderness, reduced movement and headaches) appear. Frequently, people who have suffered a whiplash injury might find that they only notice it the day following the accident and that symptoms gradually get worse over a few days.

It is always important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after any road accident – even when an injury might not be immediately obvious to you.

Developing the symptoms of whiplash a few days after your accident would not normally harm your chances of making a successful claim, but failing to get proper medical attention could mean that your whiplash injury and any other injuries you have suffered in the accident go undiagnosed.

What are the complications of whiplash?

Most whiplash injuries, whilst they can be painful and inconvenient, will usually heal over a period of time (in most cases within six months) without the need for medical intervention. However, in a small number of cases, the pain and discomfort from whiplash caused by a road accident can last for longer than six months and may develop into a more serious medical condition, sometimes referred to as chronic whiplash.

According to the NHS website’s own guide to the complications of whiplash, around 12% of people who have suffered a whiplash-type injury will still be suffering from neck pain six months after their accident. Long term neck pain can affect your life in many ways. You might find neck pain is restricting your movement, making it difficult to carry out simple tasks around the home or at work. Neck pain can also affect your ability to enjoy your leisure time and it can trigger other problems, such as anxiety and depression.

How much compensation will I get for a whiplash injury?

To find out more about compensation figures for whiplash, view our compensation guide for neck injuries.

As with all injury claims, the eventual compensation you receive for a whiplash injury will depend on a number of factors. If you choose to make a whiplash injury compensation claim, you solicitor should explain how he or she calculates the value of your claim.

In addition to the amount of compensation claimed for your whiplash injury itself (which will depend on the severity of the injury, the length of your recovery and whether there were any complications), your claim will also include compensation for things like loss of earnings and travel expenses to any medical appointments connected with your claim. If your whiplash injury has had other effects on your life, for example if you have had extra help with housework or looking after children then you should speak to your solicitor as it may also be possible to include compensation for these extra expenses as part of your claim.

For more information about whiplash claims, whether you’ve been injured as a driver or a passenger in a road accident, call Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors today on 0151 239 1180 or submit an enquiry via the form on our website. We will discuss the circumstances of your accident and you whiplash Injury. If we feel you have grounds to claim compensation, then we can start work on your whiplash claim today.

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