Individuals who have suffered hyperextension of the neck due to it being jerked back and forwards in quick succession in an accident for which they were not to blame may be eligible to make whiplash injury compensation claims. These injuries are generally attributed to rear end road traffic accident but can also be sustained in several other ways, such as from slips or falls, when a pedestrian has been struck by a car or during contact sport.
A potential plaintiff may be able to make a personal injury claim if it can be proven that their injury was caused by third party negligence. However, it must be noted that claims related to whiplash injuries can be difficult to resolve because of the length of time it takes for some symptoms to manifest and issues in accurately diagnosing the extent of the injury.
How to Recognise Whiplash
Almost all sufferers of whiplash will experience a few of the following most common symptoms:
- Pain, stiffness and tenderness in the neck
- Swelling in the neck
- Difficulty moving neck around
- Stiffness in the back of the head
- Muscle spasms (side or back of neck)
- Shooting pain from neck to shoulder or arms
- Sensory disturbance (for example, pins and needles in the arms and legs)
- Pain to the shoulders or arms
- Increased fatigue
These frequent symptoms of whiplash may take a few days to appear but immediately after the accident you may also experience shoulder pain, pain in either or both arms, tingling or weakness in arms or legs, dizziness or blurred vision.
It is imperative that you see a doctor immediately after an accident, whether or not these symptoms are yet apparent, for a number of reasons. 1) There may be related injuries that only a doctor can identify, 2) you cannot risk exacerbating any injury you may have and 3) your presence at the hospital or in your GP’s surgery will be noted in your medical history and can be used later as evidence to support your claim.
Ongoing Whiplash Symptoms
Some symptoms of whiplash can be very dangerous in the long run. There is the potential that an accident victim may experience memory loss or even periods of unconsciousness after a serious car collision. Signs that the whiplash may be particularly severe could include pains at the back of the head, a sensation of heaviness in the arms or pins and needles in the shoulders and arms.
Additionally, common whiplash symptoms of a stiff neck and headaches can cause a lack of sleep which could lead to a lack of concentration and other problems.
A small number of people develop long term whiplash symptoms and develop “whiplash syndrome”. They suffer continuous headaches and pain, fatigue, sleep disruption, tingling in the arms, lumbar pains, restricted movement at the back of the head and even reduced libido. It is difficult to treat whiplash syndrome which can persist for months or even years with ongoing neck pain.
Can Whiplash Cause Brain Damage?
Often, concerns may exist that whiplash can cause damage to the brain. It is, however, extremely difficult to predict and doctors will make a guess based upon criteria such as seizures, loss of consciousness, amnesia, concussion or swelling of the brain. Doctors will perform several tests to establish the possibility of brain damage. It is of vital importance that anyone experiencing these radical symptoms be examined by a doctor immediately.
Public Transport Whiplash Claims
Although by far the most common way to suffer a whiplash injury is from a rear end car accident, some people sustain their injuries in accidents involving public transport. Whiplash claims of this nature can be a little more complicated to resolve, as it can be more difficult to determine liability.
With public transport accidents, it must be determined whether the driver of the vehicle you were travelling in was to blame or if another road user was responsible. If your driver was to blame, his or her employer would be expected to respond to your claim. If another party was at fault, their details will need to be collected and can usually be obtained from the Gardai.
Whiplash on a Bus
It is possible for passengers to make whiplash injury compensation claims if they have been injured in a bus accident. Bus accidents are in fact subject to more serious injuries than car accidents, as bus passengers generally do not wear seatbelts and people are often forced to stand. It is important to take action as soon as possible following a bus accident. In cases such as these, the negligent party responsible for the accident would generally be the bus company and not the driver.
Can You Get Whiplash from a Fall?
Falling suddenly forward or backward can cause the spine to experience the same dangerous jerking motion as is possible in a car accident which could leave you with a whiplash injury. An individual who suffers such an injury in an accident that was clearly not their fault should seek legal advice about the process for making a claim.
Procedures to Take After an Accident
Regardless of the circumstances under which your whiplash injury was sustained, it is necessary that you carried out these standard procedures following the accident:
- Visited the hospital/your GP immediately following the accident
- Exchange details with those involved in the accident, including any witnesses
- Reported the accident to the Gardai if they did not attend the scene
It is still possible to make whiplash injury compensation claims if you did not complete all of the procedures listed above; however, you would be advised to contact a solicitor at the first moment possible to determine whether or not you still have a viable claim.
Whiplash Compensation Claims Solicitor
Once a solicitor is aware of the details of your injury, and the circumstances of the accident, he or she would be able to help compile an accurate application for assessment to the Injuries Board. Additionally, your solicitor would be able to enter negotiations with the negligent party’s insurance company if you are approached with an offer of early settlement.
Whiplash Injury Compensation Claims: Summary
- Victims of accidents that were caused by third party negligence may be eligible to make whiplash injury compensation claims.
- Whiplash is usually associated with rear end car collisions; however, this type of injury can result from a range of different scenarios.
- Claims involving whiplash can be difficult to resolve because of the potential difficulty in accurately diagnosing whiplash, and the length of time it could take for each symptom to fully develop.
- The value of your claim is influenced by several factors including how severe your injury is, the length of time it may take to heal and the affect your injury has had on your quality of life.
Your first priority should always be your health, and whiplash injury compensation claims should never be made a priority until professional medical treatment has been administered. After your injuries have been sufficiently treated and diagnosed, you would be well advised to discuss the circumstances of your injury with a solicitor.