Whiplash is an injury most commonly associated with road traffic accidents; however you could also sustain a whiplash injury whilst horse riding, skiing or even riding on a fairground rollercoaster.
Whiplash occurs when you are involved in any kind of accident that results in your head being jerked violently backwards and forwards; the most common of these being a rear-end collision in a car.
Whiplash is an upper spinal cord injury that can cause damage to the invertebral joints, discs and ligaments. This causes severe pains in the neck and upper back regions, and in severe cases can result in long-term disability.
In addition to neck and back pain, other symptoms of whiplash are pins and needles in the arms or legs, headache and dizziness. A whiplash injury can also result in psychological disorders such as insomnia, memory loss, lack of concentration and depression.
If you think that you are suffering from whiplash, it is imperative that you seek medical advice. Most forms of whiplash can be diagnosed by your GP, but if a fracture or dislocation is suspected, your GP will recommend an X-ray to ascertain the extent of the damage. It can sometimes take several days after an accident to feel the affects of a whiplash injury, therefore it is important to seek medical advice immediately should any of the above symptoms occur.
Recovery time from a whiplash injury can be anything from a few weeks to three months, and treatments can range from wearing a surgical collar to attending your local hospital for physiotherapy. Therefore in addition to the physical discomfort caused by your injury, it is likely that you will also incur a financial loss due to having time off from work to recover, which is why you should consider making an injury compensation claim.
Whiplash injuries represent 75% of motor insurance personal injury claims in the UK. Due to the high number of claims for compensation, most insurance companies now use a set of guidelines compiled in Canada by an organisation known as the Quebec Task Force. In 1995 they published their “Guideline on Management of Claims Involving Whiplash” which set out four degrees of whiplash injuries, graded 1 to 4 in order of severity. It would be helpful to familiarise yourself with these different ranges of symptoms to give you an idea of the level of compensation you are likely to receive for your personal injury. These are the 4 grades:
- Pain and stiffness in the neck region
- Neck and back pain, plus decreased mobility
- Severe neck pain, loss of mobility, plus neurological signs such as pins and needles in the arms or legs
- Fracture or dislocation
When calculating compensation for your whiplash injury, the guidelines are as follows:
- Grade 1-2 minor whiplash - £1,000 to £4,500
- Grade 3 moderate whiplash - £4,575 to £14,500
- Grade 4 severe whiplash - £14,500 to £86,500
Please note that these figures are guidelines only, and that each claim for compensation will be assessed individually.
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