Whiplash Solicitors - Car Accident Compensation Claims - Injury Lawyers

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 958

Our whiplash 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. Rapid Solicitors operate from offices in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth and will be pleased to give advice at no cost to establish whether or not you have a viable personal injury compensation claim. Do yourself justice – contact Rapid Solicitors without delay.

If you have suffered personal injury in a road traffic accident that is the result of somebody else's negligence, then you may be entitled to instruct a whiplash solicitor 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 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.

In some cases whiplash injury will not have been caused by a car accident however there is a significant proportion that is a direct result of motor vehicle collisions. Road traffic accidents are a major cause of traumatic injury and represent more than half of all cases handled by personal injury solicitors. If you have been injured in a car accident and you want to make a compensation claim for personal injury and loss just complete the contact form, email our offices or use the lawyers helpline. Our whiplash solicitors offer free advice without further obligation. If our whiplash solicitors deal with your claim it will be on a no win no fee basis, compensation is paid in full and you do not have to fund or finance your car accident compensation claim.

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.

In order to make a successful whiplash injury compensation claim it is usually necessary to prove that the other driver has been negligent. To this end immediately after an accident it is essential that the injured person does everything they can to preserve evidence. Full details should be recorded at the scene of the accident including an exact record of the time, date and location with the names addresses and registration numbers of all parties involved together with full details of any witnesses. Photographs of the location, the damage to vehicles and the injury should be taken shortly after the accident. Anyone who is injured should make an urgent visit to a general practitioner or a local hospital to provide a contemporaneous record of the injury. This medical record will be of paramount importance at a later stage of the claim, in valuing the award for pain and suffering. It should however be noted that in some jurisdictions there is a non-fault compensation scheme in operation.

Neck Injury

Whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly jerked forwards or backwards followed almost instantly by an automatic reflex reaction which jerks the head in the opposite direction stretching muscles, nerves and tendons and sometimes causing serious damage to inter vertebral discs and cartilage. The subsequent swelling of the soft tissues of the neck results in pressure being exerted on the nerves which may in turn give rise to severe pain and other symptoms that may include headaches, pain at the back of the neck, lumbar pains, tingling in the arms, exhaustion and sleep deprivation etc.

Acceleration / Deceleration Syndrome

This condition which is also known as acceleration/deceleration syndrome is a collection of symptoms caused by injury to the neck. It occurs when the neck is strained due to a sudden jerk of the head. It is most associated with rear impact car crashes that involve sudden deceleration however it can also be caused by side impact collisions and by other strenuous activities.

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.

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.

Whiplash Solicitor

If you have suffered physically, mentally or financially, you should consider making an accident compensation claim. Our whiplash injury solicitors deal with compensation claims on a no win no fee basis. For telephone advice at no cost from a personal injury solicitor just call the helpline. A whiplash solicitor will assess the strength of your claim and will advise you on your potential award of compensation and if you decide not to take your claim any further after talking with us, you will be under no obligation to continue and there will be no charge.

Whiplash Injury Overview

Whiplash is actually a non-medical term first coined in 1928 and, in medical terms is called flexion extension injury to the neck or soft tissue cervical hyperextension injury. It is an injury that involves hyperflexion and hyperextension of the neck during a motor vehicle accident, fall, assault, or sporting activities. Doctors also call this a cervical sprain or cervical sprain; it doesn't involve the bones of the neck and there is usually no injury to the spinal cord at least one that is lasting in nature.

The most frequent cause of a whiplash injury is a motor vehicle accident. Speeds as low as fifteen miles per hour can cause a significant whiplash injury and wearing a seat belt does not make any difference in whether or not you get whiplash. Contact sports injuries are related to whiplash injuries in some cases. Blows to the head from a falling object can yield a whiplash injury. Non-acute causes of whiplash injuries are repetitive stress injuries or chronic strain on the neck. Child abuse, such as shaken baby syndrome, can cause a whiplash injury, among other injuries. The spinal cord can be damaged in such cases.

Symptoms of whiplash injury include having pain in the neck, swelling of the muscles and ligaments around the neck, tenderness along the back of the neck, muscle spasms that tilt the neck to one side, headache, difficulty moving the neck or pain that shoots from the neck to the shoulder or to the arm on one or both sides of the body.

Tests for whiplash injury are usually done in the emergency room with a patient who has a rigid cervical collar placed around their neck. The emergency physician carefully removes the collar if the patient is comfortable with that and examines the back of the neck. X-rays are often done to make sure that there is no bony involvement. There is often over-straightening of the neck due to spasms of the muscles but it can also be due to being trapped in the cervical collar. Level of consciousness is assessed as is the strength of the extremities, including the grip strength and the strength of the feet. The doctor also makes sure the patient is not on drugs or intoxicated, which can affect the level of pain they are feeling with regard to the neck. Tenderness, range of motion and swelling of the neck are assessed by the emergency or family practice physician. Sensation of the extremities is checked. Reflexes are examined. The collar usually stays in place until the x-rays are cleared as normal. The doctor looks for external signs of trauma, including cuts, abrasions or bruising after the cervical collar is removed.

If there are any questions about bony involvement that aren't answered by a simple x-ray, the individual might have a CT scan or MRI scan of the neck. These tests can also show the muscles and any swelling or tearing of the muscles may sometimes be seen.

Mild whiplash can be treated at home. You can wear a soft cervical collar and take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain and control inflammation. Ice should be applied for twenty minutes to the neck each hour for the first twenty four hours unless you are sleeping. Place a towel between the ice and the neck so you don't freeze your neck skin. Use ice until you no longer have significant pain. Keep taking Tylenol or Advil for pain (or naproxen) until you no longer have any pain in the affected area.

Seek medical attention if the whiplash is severe or if the above measures do not work. Doctors can prescribe neck massage to the affected area, neck rest, heat therapy, bed rest, medications for relaxation of the muscles, such as Flexeril, and stronger pain relievers. The doctor will prescribe a soft cervical collar to relieve pain and to remind you not to move your neck around. Physical therapy will work on range of motion and strengthening of the neck as it begins to heal.

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 958