Whiplash Injury Lawyers - Accident Compensation
Our whiplash injury lawyers offer advice at no cost on all matters relating to car accident injury claims. In most cases our accident lawyers are able to deal with all of the legal work involved in a whiplash compensation claim at no cost to you. If you would like free advice on whiplash injury damages with no further obligation, use the contract form or email our offices and a whiplash compensation lawyer will discuss your claim over the telephone and tell you how best to proceed to protect your right to claim compensation for personal injury.
Whiplash is also called “acceleration deceleration syndrome” which may include torn muscles, ligaments, tendons and disrupted discs in the back and neck. The end result is a painful neck associated with a headache, dizziness and loss of sleep. Whiplash usually results from a forward or backward movement but can occur from a sideways impact particularly in a motor vehicle accident.
Whiplash is a not always a sudden symptom and is often delayed for days or even weeks before the full range of symptoms are felt. It takes about 24 to 48 hours from the time of injury to the development of maximum symptoms.
Whiplash involves a soft tissue injury and injuries to the discs of the back but does not include bony injury or fractures to the spine. There is generally no paralysis, although some people feel a temporary numbness or tingling of their hands and arms. Surgery is rarely required because of a whiplash injury but it is common to need physical therapy, chiropractics, acupuncture or occupational therapy as means to relieve the pain and improve function.
As soon as you know you have a whiplash injury, you need to see a specialist personal injury lawyer who will work on a contingency fee basis in order to file a claim against the negligent person who was to blame for the accident that caused the whiplash injury. In a contingency fee situation, the plaintiff only pays the whiplash injury lawyer if the claim is successful. If the lawyer loses the claim, no payment for legal fees is made.
A whiplash claim is made against the negligent person who was to blame for the accident. It is most likely to be another motorist but can be another participant in a sporting activity. If you think you might have a claim, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. An early decision will be made on whether or not there are factors indicating that the accident was caused by negligence. Your whiplash injury lawyer will then file a personal injury compensation claim in a court of law on your behalf.
A whiplash injury compensation claim usually arises as a result of a rear end shunt whilst riding in a motor vehicle. This condition is a collection of symptoms arising as a result of damage to the discs, muscles, nerves or tendons of the neck caused by a sudden acceleration or deceleration. The head is violently thrown back, forwards or sideways followed by an equal and opposite reflex contraction. Swelling and inflammation usually occurs which leads to pressure being placed on the nerves often resulting in the classical symptoms. Most neck damage is not serious and broken bones are extremely rare. Most injuries heal within a few months following conservative treatment although there can be long-term permanent damage particularly to those in vulnerable groups including the elderly. The severity of the injury depends on the posture of the claimant at the time of the accident and the speed and relative weights of the vehicles involved. Injuries caused as a result of truck accidents and bus accidents can be particularly serious to the occupants of the lighter vehicle. Drivers who are usually able to brace themselves often suffer lesser injuries than unprepared passengers. Side ways impact usually produces the most severe symptoms and often involves facet joint damage which may cause permanent disability. The amount of any settlement that can be claimed by a whiplash injury lawyer, for pain and suffering following damage to the neck depends on severity of the injury, the time that elapses for full recovery and whether or not there are any residual long term or chronic symptoms.
Whiplash Injury Compensation
Whiplash injury lawyers divide compensation that can be claimed into several categories including :-
- General Damages represents compensation for items which cannot be calculated precisely and are based on the Courts best assessment. Pain and suffering is usually the main item in this category and is assessed following review of medical reports.
- Special Damages represents compensation for items which the courts can calculate accurately and may include lost income, medical expenses and loss of personal property. It is usually necessary to prove these losses by production of receipts, however in the absence of receipts estimates of loss can often be made and verified by other documentary evidence.
- Punitive Damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and are awarded by the court based on a best assessment basis. They may be recovered where there has been intentional wrongdoing, or a total and reckless negligent disregard to the possibility of injury or damage to the claimant.
- Future losses may include anticipated loss of wages over a period of years and subsequent expenses relating to care or the provision of medical services. The calculation of these losses can be complex and a special calculation is applied to the estimated annual loss to arrive at a fair figure for compensation.
Whiplash symptoms are caused by damage to the neck usually occurring after a rear end shunt whilst traveling in a car. Pain and stiffness is caused by pressure being placed on the nerves as a result of tissue swelling which causes muscle spasms. Indicators and symptoms which may be present immediately or may develop gradually over hours, days or weeks after the accident may include:-
- pain or stiffness of the neck, back, jaw, shoulders, or arms
- memory loss, concentration impairment, nervousness, irritability
- headache and dizziness
- sleep disturbances, fatigue and depression
- loss of feeling, or burning or prickling in an arm or hand
- blurred vision
- nausea or vomiting
- balance problems
Diagnosis of this condition is based on the symptoms, history and a medical examination which are necessary to evaluate the patient's general condition. In more severe cases X-rays, CAT Scan or MRI may be necessary to confirm the symptoms and to assess the condition of the cervical spine's soft tissues including inter vertebral discs, muscles and ligaments.
It is important that qualified medical advice is obtained as soon as possible after whiplash symptoms become obvious as the medical record will used for the assessment of the value of the personal injury compensation to be awarded It is therefore important that the injury is documented in full as soon as possible after the accident. If you have suffered this condition please contact our whiplash injury lawyer for advice on compensation claims at no cost and with no further obligation.
It takes a qualified doctor who is skilled in orthopedics, physiatry, chiropractics or internal medicine to be able to make a proper diagnosis of whiplash. The first part of the diagnosis is to pay attention to the initial symptoms. The main initial symptoms include the flexion and extension of the neck, along with pain in the neck and shoulder injury. You can also experience a flash of sudden pain down the arm that lasts for just seconds.
The doctor can palpate the neck and back for tenderness, which usually occurs in both of these areas. There may be local swelling in the neck and upper back that only gets better with ice and rest. Other conditions can mimic whiplash injury, such as the tenderness of the neck and back so other tests may need to be done to rule out which diagnosis is going on.
Often, plain film x-rays can be done to rule out a fracture of the bones of the neck. This is often a negative finding and is never positive in whiplash injuries. Other tests that can be done include a CT scan of the neck and upper back or an MRI scan of the neck and upper back. These are more sensitive tests that can show torn tendons, torn ligaments and discs that have ruptured or have gotten out of place. Swelling of the tendons can indicate a whiplash injury. If these findings exist on an MRI or CT scan of the neck or upper back, they are indicative of a possible whiplash injury. Sometimes no test will be helpful in identifying the presence of whiplash and the doctor must go on the history of the injury, ongoing symptoms and the physical examination of the neck.
The findings of a whiplash injury can vary over time. The swelling can worsen and can become more obvious; the spasm of the muscles can become worse over time. The range of motion of the neck can become worse so the patient can’t move their neck from side to side or from forward to back. If you need advice from a whiplash compensation lawyer just call the helpline.
This injury is more accurately called cervical acceleration/deceleration trauma or syndrome and is a collection of symptoms arising as a result of damage to the neck which most commonly causes serious and lingering neck pain, back pain, headaches and dizziness. Whiplash treatment has changed over recent years and whilst the use of a cervical collar was recommended in the past, the current advice is to encourage early mobilization with the use of a soft collar only intermittently and in the short term. Pain and stiffness is caused by pressure being placed on the nerves as a result of tissue swelling which causes muscle spasms. The application of ice, in the first 24 hours, to reduce swelling and pressure on the nerves followed by gentle active movement is now recommended. Activities including walking and aerobic or isometric exercises together with an early return to work is often encouraged by health care professionals.
Whiplash treatment may include:
- immobilizing the neck in a soft cervical collar
- physiotherapy to reduce muscle spasms, increase circulation, and promote healing
- use of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants
- cervical traction
- moist heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and exercise
- surgical intervention including removal of a torn intervertebral disc and subsequent spinal fusion
- trigger point injections
Whiplash treatment can happen through the use of chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, acupuncturists or physical therapists. All can be used together to make the pain improve and to improve the function of the patient who suffers from the condition. Some good treatments include therapeutic massage to the neck and upper back or shoulders, rest to the affected area, cervical collar which protects the neck and keeps it comfortable, the use of ice in the beginning of the treatment, followed by heat treatment to spasmed muscles, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, pain medications and muscle relaxant medications. It can take a few weeks to treat whiplash or it can take months. Some people need early chronic physical therapy and other therapy for their whiplash because it just isn’t getting better.
Most of the time, it takes no more than a few months to recover from whiplash. A few patients will recover after several years. Some people will never recover thoroughly and will have chronic neck pain and stiffness indefinitely.
Not all treatment is appropriate at the same time. Some treatment is more appropriate early and others are better done later. For example, ice is an appropriate immediate treatment. It lessens the swelling and eases the pain; it is usually used for ten to twenty minutes at a time with a ten to twenty minute rest in between. Heat is not appropriate in the beginning because it increases swelling and inflammation. After a week or so, heat for prolonged periods of time reduce the spasm and make the pain much better. Some doctors alter ice and heat after a few days to be able to have the best of both worlds.
Medications are appropriate at all stages of the process. You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications at any time because they reduce inflammation and help reduce the pain. Stronger pain medications are used in the beginning, such as narcotic pain medication and anti-spasmodics are used to break the spasm of the muscles, particularly in the beginning. Later on, medications like aspirin can be used to treat the pain without necessarily blocking the inflammation. Doctors can inject the affected area with corticosteroid medications or lidocaine. The corticosteroid medications work to decrease the inflammation of the affected area and these medications tend to work faster and better than oral pills. The corticosteroid injections tend to last up to a month’s time, after which they can be repeated. There are some side effects of taking these medications so you should talk to your doctor about whether or not these are appropriate for you.
Many doctors recommend physical therapy. This involves therapeutic massage to the affected area and gentle range of motion to keep the neck from getting stiff. Acupuncture can be used to reduce the pain of the neck in a technique that involves the use of an ancient Chinese technique.
Recovery from whiplash can take a few days to many months. Some patients have chronic whiplash that lasts indefinitely. Recovery can just be a matter of watching and waiting. You can put ice or heat to the affected area and rest the neck with a cervical collar and you can expect gradually. Cervical traction is a physical therapy technique that involves traction on the neck for a period of time. This straightens out the back and neck, releasing the stress on the ligaments and tendons.
If you seek the advice of a physical therapist, you will receive massage therapy, traction therapy, sometimes acupuncture and trigger point release. These are common physical therapy techniques that are used to speed up the recovery process and allow for more accurate healing. Pain medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications, ibruprofen and narcotic medications can be used to ease the pain during treatment or during the daytime or night time hours.
In rare cases, patients need surgery to correct the whiplash problem. This is especially true if there is a disc injury as part of the whiplash injury. Surgery is to be a last case resort as it doesn’t work all of the time.
Before going through whiplash recovery, you need to be examined by a doctor. You also need to be examined by a qualified doctor in order to support your claim of having whiplash. The doctor will examine the neck, shoulders and upper back for pain and spasm. The range of motion is assessed and will be diminished in whiplash injuries. Muscle and nerve function are assessed to make sure they are functioning normally. An X-ray or CT scan of the neck can show disc disease and other areas of ruptured tendons.
The doctor will examine the whiplash area over time to see if the symptoms are increasing or decreasing. A condition of decreasing symptoms is a good sign, indicating that the whiplash is improving.
If you have been involved in an accident it is important for the purposes of a car accident compensation claim to ensure that you preserve evidence. Immediately following the accident you should exchange personal details with all parties involved and make a written record of events immediately before and after the event. You should make a note of the personal details of witnesses and take photographs of the location and damage to vehicles. If you have been injured you should visit a hospital or your family doctor as soon as possible to ensure that there is recorded evidence of your injury. You should keep a diary of subsequent events including the progress of your injury and keep a written record of all expenditure together with bills and invoices where appropriate for submission to your whiplash injury lawyer.
There are time limits that apply to almost all legal claims for damages including actions relating to personal injury. The general rule is that a personal injury compensation claim must have either been settled or proceedings must have been filed by a lawyer in a court of law before the expiry of the limitation period which varies dependent on the type of claim, the location of the incident that caused injury, the status of the potential defendant and the status of the injured party, failing which the claim can be statute barred and the opportunity to claim compensation will generally have been lost forever.
There are some exceptions to the general rule that you should be aware of if you intend making a claim after the general limitation period. It is essential that you take local legal advice from a qualified lawyer on exceptions:-
- In the event that you were a minor when the accident took place then the time period starts usually starts running from the date of your 18th birthday.
- Time does not usually run against those who are mentally incapacitated until such time as the person regains full mental capacity.
There are qualifications to the general rule. In most provinces time only starts to run when an injury is discovered or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence. Exceptions to the general rule are rare in accident cases and mainly apply to medical negligence claims and industrial disease cases.
Whiplash Injury Lawyers
Our whiplash injury lawyers offer expertise that is second to none. All of our lawyers deal exclusively with claims involving physical injury. If you have suffered whiplash injury and would like to talk to an experienced accident lawyer without obligation then just call the helpline or email our offices or complete and send the contact form and an advocate who deals exclusively in accident claims will phone you with free advice and information on how best to preserve your legal rights to compensation for your injuries.