An average of 20 percent of people involved in a car accident sustain whiplash injuries. It’s the most common injury amongst road traffic accidents. How does whiplash happen in the first place? Let’s start by taking a quick look at the neck.
The neck is composed of a multi-tired system of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The cervical bones that surround these tissues support the skull. It enables head movement. Seatbelts restrict bodily movement but don’t directly protect the head and neck.
Seatbelts save live, no question about it. Those NOT wearing seatbelts have a greater than 50% chance of perishing in an automobile accident, than those who do. The basic purpose of the seatbelt is to prevent you from jolting forward and hitting the windshield if the car comes to a sudden stop. If the car is moving along at 30 miles (ca. 48 km) per hour, essentially, so are you. However, if the car were to collide with another car, ditch etc., and come to a halt, your body would continue to move forward. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. The seat belts, luckily, will keep you from moving right into your dashboard! While your body is prevented from continuing forward, your head is not — there’s nothing to prevent your head from this forward momentum. This momentum lasts only for split second, the head will then snap back. The average adult head weighs in at around 14Ibs and is fully supported by the neck. As you might imagine, this snapping motion can put considerable strain on the neck. This is a common whiplash accident scenario.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is defined as any damage or injury to the neck resulting from sudden acceleration/deceleration. This is pretty much what happens in car accident. Whiplash occurs because, to use the above example, the body is moving along at around 30 mph (ca. 48 km/h) and stops abruptly. The head continues moving forward, ‘whipping’ back to the body a split second later. This whipping motion can cause severe injury to the neck. Pinched nerves can result. The ‘pinching’ of these nerves can affect the functionality of the entire area. Muscles can become constricted and soft tissue damage can also occur. Whiplash symptoms can happen right away or in some cases, take months or even years to develop. If your neck stiffens or hurts in any way as a result of a road accident, whiplash diagnoses should be your top priority.
What symptoms to look for immediately:
- blurred vision
- stiff neck
- shooting pain from the neck to upper arms or back
- neck pain or back pain
- difficulty moving or rotating the head
If you notice any of these after a car accident, whiplash treatment should begin right away. It’s important to visit your doctor as soon as possible, he/she might conduct tests such as a scan or x-ray of the area.
How long does Whiplash pain last?
Some people will experience pain, in the form of headaches or chronic neck pain, from whiplash for several years after the accident; but most people will make a full recovery within three months after the accident.
Are some people more prone to Whiplash?
Yes, research from studies indicate that the following factors are common in victims of Whiplash, and these individual(s) tend to have longer recovery periods:
- Being female
- Being involved in a rear-end collision
- The relative weight of the striking vehicle to the hit vehicle
- previous neck injury
How a Law Firm can help
If you’ve been hurt through the negligence of another party, you may want to consider hiring a personal injury solicitor to get the compensation* that you deserve. Whether you get a settlement or need to move forward with a lawsuit, this isn’t something that you want to handle on your own. No matter how shrewd you consider yourself, an insurance company isn’t going to take you seriously without legal counsel by your side. You will never be able to negotiate a settlement that matches what you could get with a personal injury solicitor*. That is if you get the right solicitor. Here are some things to consider when looking for someone to hire.
1. Personal Injury Solicitors* – Areas of Expertise
Personal injury solicitors operate in a specific area of law in Ireland. They independently advise and represent clients from the beginning of the claims process through to the final verdict. There are various types of claim that fall under the remit of personal injury solicitors. Some of these include:
- Road traffic accidents that result in bodily injuries e.g. whiplash
- Industrial related illnesses such as exposure to asbestos, chemical accidents and white finger cause by vibrations
- Accidents/Illnesses caused in the workplace including slips/falls and trips, RSI or those sustained ‘on-site’ in the construction industry
- Accidents resulting in serious injury, such as back or spinal injury
- Medical negligence
In general, when an injury has been sustained as a result of someone else’s actions or negligence, then a personal injury solicitor will be able to help qualify a claim.
2. Determining the eligibly of a claim
Many personal injury solicitors can be hired under a ‘No Win No Fee* Arrangement’. This means that if the case is unsuccessful the solicitor will not charge the client for their fees. In addition, if the case is successful the claimant usually receives 100% of the damages, as the solicitors fees are recovered from the side. This process was set p to ensure open and fair access to the legal system in order to help reduce issues of social exclusion. There are certain criteria that must be met for the claim to be pursued on a no win no fee basis.
In general, a claim should be raised in a reasonably timely manner (less than two years) and the injury received should have been caused directly or indirectly by another party’s negligence.
The purpose of the claim is to compensate the client financially for the other party’s negligence. The solicitor can help determine current and future financial losses, incorporating: the type and extent of injuries received taking into account physical, mental and emotional harm; medical expenses; the impact on the quality of life; and loss of earnings. This will result in a Schedule of Loss that summarises the above into absolute financial amounts and will be used during the claims process to gauge the value of the amount of compensation being pursued by the claimant.
Personal Injury Solicitors – Checklist
- If an injury has been sustained, then a Personal Injury Solicitor will have the experience to advise on the potential of the claim.
- A Personal Injury Solicitor can be contacted via The Irish Law Society or our website Personal Injury Solicitors
- Injury claims can often be pursued on a ‘No Win No Fee basis’.
How long does a whiplash claim* usually take?
A whiplash claim cannot generally be settled until a medical expert has made a final opinion that either the victim has made a complete recovery, or that their symptoms will not improve or deteriorate. Therefore, it is very much dependent on the severity of the injury. In most cases, whiplash claims are settled within six to twelve months.
*In contentious business a solicitor, may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.