WHIPLASH COMPENSATION SOLICITORS - NECK INJURY CLAIMS

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 352 100

Have you been injured in an accident?
 
Thinking about making a compensation claim?
 
Are you looking for a whiplash compensation solicitor?
 

Our whiplash compensation solicitors use the no win no fee scheme and compensation is paid in full. If you would like advice at no cost on how to make a personal injury compensation claim with no further obligation, just use the legal helpline or send the contact form or email our solicitors offices.

If you have suffered personal injury that is the result of somebody else's negligence, then you may be entitled to make a claim. You are entitled to be paid damages even if you were partially to blame for the accident. To be able to obtain damages, your whiplash compensation solicitors usually have to prove that there was fault or negligence on the part of another person. Negligence occurs when there is a breach of the duty of care by another person towards you and that breach results in loss or damage.

Whiplash Compensation Awards

It is difficult to say in advance the amount that a whiplash compensation solicitor can be expected to recover on your behalf as each case is assessed individually and depends on evidence. Following your accident, you should keep a note of all expenses you incur as a result of the accident. For example, you should keep a record of any loss of earnings, receipts for medical and physiotherapy consultations, receipts for medication expenses. The amount that you will be entitled to will depend on the extent and severity of the injury plus your other losses. An award is comprised of different components which may include the following:-

    Special Damages

      Loss of Income

        If you are unable to work as a result of your injuries, you may be entitled to be compensated for loss of earnings which includes past and estimated future income and any loss of pension entitlements.

      Gratuitous assistance / domestic care.

        If you require care following your accident and that care is provided to you by family members or friends at no cost, then you may be entitled to be paid an equivalent sum for the notional cost of that care.

      Out-of-pocket expenses.

        Injuries usually require medical treatment and rehabilitation. Courts will award any expenses incurred in respect of medical treatment, pharmaceutical needs and the cost of travelling to and from appointments to receive medical treatment.

    General damages

      In a whiplash injury compensation claim this category covers items which cannot be calculated precisely and must be assessed by a Judge. It includes damages for pain and suffering following the accident which is assessed by reference to previously decided court cases. General damages can also be claimed for any post-accident change in lifestyle, for loss of congenial employment and for disadvantage on the open labour market.

    Interest

      May be claimable on some of your accident compensation.

Neck Injury

The risks associated with a whiplash neck injury are far too great to attempt to diagnose and treat yourself. If you have had an accident and believe that you may be injured it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible if you experience any of the following symptoms :-

  • neck pain
  • pain in either or both arms
  • shoulder pain
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • weakness or loss of function
  • any new sensation or pain that was not present before the injury

The best time to call your doctor is immediately after the accident. If you cannot determine whether an emergency department visit is needed for your symptoms, then contact your family doctor or GP and ask for advice. If your doctor is unavailable at the time of your injury, then you should attend a hospital accident and emergency department.

The doctor will first examine the functioning of your spinal cord (reflexes, sensation, physical strength in arms and legs) in order to determine if there is damage. The doctor will also inspect your head and neck for any injury including bruises, cuts and abrasions. You should tell the doctor if you feel neck pain, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs or any other abnormal feelings during examination. X-rays may be taken to ensure that there are no fractures or broken bones in the neck region. A CT scan or MRI scan may also be needed to assist with diagnosis.

If you wish to claim damages it is important that you speak to a whiplash compensation solicitor as soon as possible after the accident. A personal injury solicitor will advise what is involved in the claim process, including the investigation, litigation, negotiation and settlement.

Motor Vehicle Collision

In a rear-end shunt vehicle collision, a persons body is suddenly accelerated forwards however the head has a tendency to lag behind whereupon the neck is bent backwards suddenly and excessively. First there is hyper-extension followed by hyper-flexion of the neck muscles which causes injury. About 20 percent of people involved in a rear-end collision experience discomfort in the neck and whilst most recover quickly, a small number develop chronic conditions that result in severe pain and sometimes disability. Most rear end collisions are the fault of a third party and a whiplash compensation solicitor will almost always succeed in a personal injury claim for damages.

In the case of a head-on collision, a forward displacement of the body occurs as a result of inertia, causing tension on the safety belt and subsequent hyper-flexion of the neck muscles followed by hyper-extension thereby producing neck injury.

Whiplash Symptoms

This condition is also referred to as neck sprain, neck strain or traumatic cervical syndrome. It is an injury that damages the ligaments and muscles that support the neck and head. The most common causes are as a result of motor vehicle accidents, sporting activities, accidental falls and assault. Whiplash injury compensation claim settlements arising as a result of a road accident represent the majority of court claims for personal injury. Speeds as low as 15 miles per hour can produce enough energy to cause physical damage to a passenger or driver, whether or not they are wearing a seat belt. This injury is therefore extremely common.

The symptoms of pain are caused by inflammation of the ligaments and muscles on the front of the vertebral column and neck being as a result of being stretched and torn (sprained). The most commonly injured muscles are the longus colli and the sternocledomastoids. These muscles in the front of the neck can become very sore for several weeks. Damage may also be caused to the invertebral joints, discs, cervical muscles and nerve roots. Nerve fibres may also be overstretched and damaged.

Although this condition usually only causes damage to the soft tissues of the neck, a doctor will take x-rays of the neck for reference in case of delayed symptoms and to rule out other spinal problems or injuries. Complications may include damage to the bony vertebrae in the neck or very rarely the spinal cord. If there is damage to the invertebral disc, surgical repair of the discs may become necessary. How this injury occurs is clearly understood, but the extent and type of injuries varies greatly. The diagnosis is often one of exclusion. Because most injuries are to soft tissues such as the discs, muscles and ligaments, they cannot be seen on standard X-rays. Your doctor may need to request specialised tests, such as computed tomography scans (CT Scans) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Whiplash symptoms may include pain, limited neck movement and stiffness which may commence shortly after the injury or be delayed by 24 hours or more. Too often people don't seek treatment until more serious complications develop. In most cases, soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) cause pain because they have been stretched beyond normal limits. On occasion, they may bleed or even tear. In severe cases, violent motion can squeeze the discs of the cervical spine so hard that they herniate and press on a nerve. More serious injuries may involve damage to blood vessels, nerves or the spine. Spinal vertebrae can also be knocked painfully out of alignment.

When no bones are broken and the head doesn't strike the windscreen, typical whiplash symptoms are as follows :-

  • 62% to 98% complain of neck pain, which starts between two hours and two days after the accident. This is often the result of tightened muscles that react to either muscle tears or excessive movement of joints from ligament damage. The muscles tighten in an effort to splint and support the head, limiting excessive movement.
  • 66% to 70% complain of headache. The pain may be on one side or both, on again off again or constant, in one spot or more general.
  • 35% to 42% complain of thoracolumbar back pain
  • 45% complain of paresthesias of the upper extremities. A variety of theories have been proposed to explain paresthesias, including thoracic outlet syndrome, myofascial injuries, stretch injuries of the brachial plexus, and central cord injuries.

Other possible whiplash symptoms include :-

  • neck swelling
  • pain may spread to the shoulders, chest and back
  • tenderness along the back of your neck
  • pain shooting from your neck into either shoulder or arm
  • muscle spasms (in the side or back of your neck)
  • numbness in the fingers and forearm
  • tingling
  • neck stiffness
  • headache
  • difficulty swallowing
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • noises in the ears (tinnitus)
  • nausea
  • problems thinking
  • problems remembering
  • jaw Pain
  • hip Pain
  • vertigo
  • fatigue
  • difficulty swallowing

Damaged ligaments take a long time to heal and the sheer length of time that symptoms may go on for is often a problem. Persistent symptoms lead to "chronic whiplash syndrome," which is defined as the presence of symptoms for longer than 6 months. Ongoing pain, neck stiffness and headaches can have a major effect on quality of life and severe cases of whiplash may well be complicated by clinical depression and anxiety that needs treatment in its own right.

Whiplash Treatment

Whiplash treatment has traditionally been conservative, consisting of rest, analgesic (anti-inflammatory) medications, heat therapy to relieve muscle tension and pain and muscle relaxants for 2 to 4 weeks. In cases of severe pain, oral narcotic medications also may be used for a short course (7 to 10 days). Use of narcotics for longer periods puts patients at risk for development of tolerance.

Immobilisation of the neck with use of a soft cervical collar (neck brace) for 2 to 4 weeks also has been recommended but recently has been called into question by some doctors. In one medical study comparing use of a neck brace and analgesic medications with a regimen of active therapy, the group treated actively had significant improvement in both neck pain and mobility compared with the group treated with a neck brace.

The current trend in whiplash treatment seems to be to encourage early movement, rather than immobilisation. The soft collar may be used for a short term and on an intermittent basis. Your doctor may provide you with a series of exercises that you can do at home. An early return to work is encouraged, even if your doctor must prescribe some temporary modifications in your work situation. Other whiplash treatment may include :-

    Acupuncture

    • Treatment of the neck area with acupuncture has been known to provide short-term pain relief, only a few people get more long lasting relief.

    Chiropractic

    • Chiropractic treatment is considered best for the first 12 weeks and for lost range of motion in sub-acute and chronic cases. Chiropractic manipulation is contraindicated in patients who exhibit abnormalities on neurological examination, radiographic studies or both.

    Injections

    • This form of treatment may be useful when there are pinched nerves and/or herniated discs.

    Massage

    • May ease muscle spasm and tightness. Some long term relief is possible, but mostly short-term.

    Physical Therapy

    • Physical therapy may be useful when there is lost range of motion, and stiffness.

    Surgery

    • When there are herniated discs that can't be treated conservatively, surgery may be considered as a last resort.

Whilst most patients recover within a couple of weeks, a small number continue with long-term discomfort, pain and movement limitation. If symptoms continue or worsen after 6 to 8 weeks, further x-rays and other diagnostic testing my be necessary to see if the patient suffered a more severe injury. Factors that may be associated with a poor prognosis include a previous history of neck pain, neck stiffness, thoracolumbar pain, muscle spasms, paresthesias, presence of objective neurological signs, and an abnormal cervical spine curvature on x-ray films.

Time Limits

There are time limits applicable to all personal injury compensation claims. In general terms a claim must either be settled or proceedings must have been issued in a court of law within three years of the event or the opportunity to claim compensation may be lost forever. There are exceptions to this rule for those under the age of eighteen years at the time of the accident and for the mentally disabled. The court does have discretion to extend time and advice should always be sought from a legal professional.

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 352 100