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 0333 400 4445 or fill in our contact form.  Our experienced and empathetic team can assist you with advice on the next steps to take.

Dispelling the Myths around Concussion

The most common type of injury sustained after a blow to the head is concussion.  Concussion can range from being a minor incident which requires rest and observation at home, to a severe, life-threatening injury.

As an example of this latter scenario, in April 2014 a coroner ruled that a 14 year old boy died as a result of “second impact syndrome”.  The boy was participating in a school rugby match when he suffered two concussive type injuries in quick succession which saw him collapse to the ground and tragically never regain consciousness.

Listed below are some of the myths surrounding concussion that need to be dispelled in order to protect people from more serious injury.

Myth number 1.  You have to be knocked out to receive a concussion.

You do not have to be knocked unconscious for concussion to occur. It happens when a blow to the head or body, or a fall or other injury shakes and jars the brain inside the skull.  This affects the reticular activating system in the brain which controls your sense of awareness and consciousness.

If you suspect you or a person you are with has concussion, look for the following signs:

• Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
• Temporary loss of consciousness
• Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
• Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
• Dizziness or “seeing stars”
• Ringing in the ears
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Slurred speech
• Delayed response to questions
• Appearing dazed
• Fatigue

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

• Concentration and memory complaints
• Irritability and other personality changes
• Sensitivity to light and noise
• Sleep disturbances
• Psychological adjustment problems and depression
• Disorders of taste and smell


Head trauma is very common in young children. If your child has received anything more than a light bump on the head, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends you should seek medical advice.  Nonverbal clues of a concussion in children may include:

• Appearing dazed
• Listlessness and tiring easily
• Irritability and crankiness
• Loss of balance and unsteady walking
• Crying excessively
• Change in eating or sleeping patterns
• Lack of interest in favourite toys

Myth number 2.  Players can carry on playing after a severe blow to the head if they feel up to it.

One of the most common situations for concussion to occur is on the sports field.  Players are particularly vulnerable in contact sports such as rugby, boxing and football.

Following recent high profile cases, sporting associations have put more emphasis on alerting players to the dangers of multiple concussions over a lifetime.

Symptoms of concussion may not appear immediately after an accident.  Therefore, if a player has experienced a severe blow to the head and concussion is suspected, they should be taken out of the game immediately.  If they continue to play there is a real risk of becoming concussed for a second time causing “second impact syndrome” which can lead to long-term, serious brain damage or death.

Myth number 3.  Concussion can only be caused by a direct blow to the head.

Concussion can be caused by a sudden violent movement of the head caused by an external force applied to the body, for example, a rugby tackle or a car accident.

Myth number 4.  A little concussion is no big deal.

A concussion is considered to be a mild traumatic brain injury.  If it is not treated properly it can lead to long-term disability or even death.  Your brain needs time to heal and rest before you return to normal, day-to-day activity.

A brain injury is always serious and should be treated as such.  If you have suffered from a concussion, or suspect someone close to you has it, seek medical advice straight away.

If you have suffered an injury which could have been avoided, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim, for more information visit our personal injury page. If you would rather speak to someone now about your claim, call us in complete confidence on 0845 345 4444, or fill in this contact form and we’ll get straight back to you.

The Great British Pothole Problem

What do you get if you mix together a recession and a few years’ of cold, wet winters? The answer is potholes, and they are becoming an increasing cause of personal injury and sometimes even death on British roads.

So why are potholes becoming such a growing issue? What hazards do they cause to road users, and what can you do if you suffer a personal injury caused by a pothole and wish to make a claim?

Increasing on Britain’s roads

Potholes are caused by a combination of sun, cold, rain and vehicles. The constant stress of traffic and sun beating down on a road, over time causes the asphalt to crack, which in turn allows snow and rainwater to enter into the cracks and mix with the gravel and dirt underneath. The water then freezes, causing the cracks to expand, pushing out some of the gravel and dirt from under the asphalt. When the ice melts this leaves a hole, which grows bigger as traffic continuously drives over the rupture, fatiguing and straining the affected area even further.

However, Britain has just experienced a mild winter hasn’t it? Yes, we may have experienced moderate temperatures, but the winter of 2013/14 has been officially confirmed as the wettest on record. Unfortunately, even when the climate is relatively warm, excessive rainfall and flooding can eat away at the roads, causing potholes and other types of damage. Couple this with cuts to council budgets allocated to road repairs and it is clear why personal injuries caused by potholes are on the increase.

Personal Injury

Thousands of people suffer vehicle damage caused by potholes every year. However, potholes also contribute many instances of injury and even death on our roads, with cyclists and motorcyclists being particularly vulnerable. According to cycling charity groups, more than 1000 cyclists are injured every year due to unrepaired potholes.

Just a few weeks ago, a coroner investigating the death of a cyclist in North Yorkshire in 2011 ruled that in his mind, “there was no doubt whatsoever the condition of the road on that occasion was the cause of the accident”. The cyclist had been taking part in a fundraising event when his bike hit a deep pothole and he was thrown into the path of an oncoming car and killed instantly.

If you are injured and you believe your injury was caused by pothole in the road, it is important to take the following steps. This will help you make a personal injury claim against the council responsible for the maintenance of the road where the accident occurred:

•  Take a photograph of the road and the pothole itself. Try to show a sense of scale in the photograph by placing a ruler or tape measure inside the pothole to illustrate its depth.
•  Measure the pothole’s dimensions, its position (i.e. is it close to the kerb) and note any other defects in the road.
•  Take photographs of your injuries and any damage to your vehicle or bike.
•  Report the incident to your local council.

Local authorities are aware of the dangers of potholes and most make every attempt to fix them as soon as they are discovered or reported. However, always take special care when you encounter one on the road, especially if you are riding a motorbike or a bicycle. It is also important to report the pothole to your local authority to prevent others from sustaining nasty injuries if they fail to see the hazard.

A guide to personal injury claims

For those of us unlucky enough to sustain an injury as a result of an accident, claiming compensation is often the last thing on our minds. However, every injured party is entitled to be compensated for the discomfort which they have experienced and understanding how the claims system works will enable you to handle these procedures with greater ease.

Safety first
The first thing that you should focus on after an accident is naturally your safety. However, what you do immediately after an accident can also affect the claims process you undertake in the future so it is important that you follow these steps:

•Always seek medical attention, irrespective of how severe you feel the injury is. Even if you are not experiencing any direct symptoms of injury you should have a thorough medical examination. This is because the shock of an accident can disguise symptoms potentially causing problems later on. Having a professional check you over will also ensure there is a formal record of your injuries should you decide to pursue a claim later on.

•After the accident, make sure you monitor your health and any injuries which you have sustained closely. This is important as some symptoms can present themselves hours or even days after the incident. Always have any new symptoms or changes to your injuries checked by a health care professional and ensure that a formal record of them is kept to aid with an accident compensation claim – should you choose to make one.

• Remember that injuries are not only physical, but can be emotional too. It is therefore recommended that you seek professional services which deal with this sort of trauma to ensure all aspects of your health is monitored. Once again, formal records of this should be kept.

Speak to professionals
Once you have taken care of your health, the next thing you need to do is consider whether or not to lodge a claim for compensation. If you have sustained injuries through no fault of your own then you are entitled to be recompensed for your discomfort and inconvenience.

Whilst this may not be your first thought after an accident it is important that you give it thought as quickly as possible as this is when information about the incident will be freshest. Always note down any important information about the event as soon as you can and speak to a professional service to establish whether you are entitled to a claim.

Injurylawyers4u offer professional and personal consultations to provide you with the support and assistance you need and will explain the claim process to you, and as we specialise in claims of this description, that makes us the best people to speak to. We can advise you on the best method of proceeding with you claim and, as we operate on a no win no fee basis, you can make your claim with financial peace of mind in tact.