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Whiplash – It’s time to take it seriously

Let’s be clear from the outset, whiplash is a serious injury and can result in long-term damage and lessen the quality of an individual’s life if left untreated.  It has often had the reputation as the type of personal injury claim unscrupulous people use as a vehicle to defraud insurers. However, according to an independent survey of 4000 respondents conducted by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) in 2012:

• Up to 40% of those who suffer from whiplash never claim for compensation
• In the previous 12 months whiplash claims had fallen by 24,000
• Almost 90% of claimants were diagnosed with whiplash by a medical professional
• Far from being an epidemic, only 1 in 100 individuals suffered from whiplash in the preceding 12 months of the survey being conducted
• 80% of suffers either report their symptoms accurately, or underplay them
• Just under 30% of claims were encouraged by the victim’s insurance company

What is whiplash?

Whiplash, or neck strain, is caused when a sudden, violent movement or impact causes your head to jerk forward, backwards, or sideways, beyond its normal range of movement.  The strain can take several months to heal. The muscles and tendons in the neck stretch and tear causing various symptoms such as:

• Neck pain and stiffness
• Headaches
• Pain when moving the neck
• Back pain
• Pins and needles in your arms and legs
• Dizziness
• Tiredness
• Blurred vision
• Vertigo

Occasionally whiplash can result in a chronic, long-term condition and can lead to anxiety and depression.

Treatment for neck strain includes medication, physiotherapy and keeping your neck mobile.

What causes whiplash?

A common cause of whiplash is being involved in a motor vehicle accident, especially a rear-end collision as the impact throws your head forward with great force and then snaps it backwards.

Whiplash can also be caused by a sudden blow to the head (for example while participating in a contact sport), or by a slip or fall.

Recovery from whiplash

The majority of victims make a full recovery from whiplash within six months. However, around 10% of victims suffer ongoing, chronic pain associated with their injury, and half of those people are unable to work or enjoy a reasonable quality of life.  The reason for this is often as mystifying to the medical professionals as it is to the patients.

Studies have been conducted in Australia which illustrate that in approximately 50% of chronic whiplash cases, the pain originates from specific nerves inside the neck.  By deadening these nerves permanently the pain can be eradicated.

Rehabilitation instead of compensation?

There has been a recent call for a debate about compensating whiplash victims financially.  It has been suggested that claimants should receive rehabilitation instead of cash settlements. However, the idea has received lukewarm response from insurers.  Instead it has been suggested that the rules for compensation claims should be tightened by methods such as restricting the time limit a person has to lodge a claim.

This would discourage the small number of fraudulent claimants and allow solicitors and insurers to concentrate on supporting the people who have genuine cause to seek a financial settlement for their injury.

If you have received a neck strain injury and are unsure as to whether you are entitled to compensation, visit our dedicated page or contact us today on 0800 221 8888 or fill in our contact form.  Our experienced and empathetic team can assist you with advice on the next steps to take.