Whiplash: Minor Accidents – Major Injuries

09 May 2011

Whiplash injuries are one of the most common injuries arising out of Road Traffic Accidents, yet some people may often be dismissive of the effects that such an injury can have on injured people's lives.

While some people make good recoveries, others can have be left with ongoing symptoms which continue to affect many aspects of their daily lives. Whiplash injuries are soft tissue injuries (affecting muscles, ligaments and tendons) which most commonly occur in the neck, but can also affect the back and other parts of the body. They usually happen when a jolting force, such as the impact of an accident, causes the neck to suddenly extend outside its normal range of movement. In most cases a person who has suffered a whiplash injury experiences neck pain and stiffness; but dizziness, back pain, shoulder pain and headaches are also common symptoms. In some cases such injuries can also lead to hearing problems, visual problems and even psychological difficulties such as depression. As a result, many people are often unable to work for a period following such an accident. They may also require further medical treatment and incur further expenses. If the accident causing the injury was not that person's fault they can claim both for these expenses and for the pain they suffer.

Gavin Lane, a partner and James Braund, a solicitor, both at Trethowans Solicitors, were recently consulted by a lady who had been travelling as a passenger when the car she was in was struck by an uninsured car, which was travelling at excessive speed on the wrong side of the road. It was dark and the car had no lights on. The lady suffered a whiplash injury to her back and neck. Whilst the injury to her neck resolved within a reasonably short time frame the injury to her back continued. She found it difficult to work and had to move jobs several times in an effort to find employment which did not aggravate her injuries. Despite having to bring an action against an uninsured driver, funds were secured on her behalf to enable her to undergo physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, massage and pain management sessions. The final prognosis estimated she would not make a full recovery until around 5 years from the date of the accident. She eventually recovered in excess of £30,000 worth in compensation.

Whiplash injuries can be caused by either high or low speed accidents as it is the jolting movement itself which causes the injury. The duration of symptoms attributed to whiplash injuries can vary hugely – some lasting a matter of weeks, some lasting years and others leaving people with permanent symptoms. As a result it is important to seek independent legal advice if a person is considering claiming for a whiplash injury.