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Table of contents

1. The true losses suffered in a Car Accident are often under-estimated.2. Who can claim motor vehicle injury compensation?3. What can you claim for as part of motor vehicle injury compensation?4. What are the most common road and car accident injuries?

Whiplash is a neck injury which occurs when the head is jerked back and forward suddenly. Whiplash is so named as it is caused by rapid movement, much like the cracking of a whip. The most common cause of a whiplash injury is a car accident when two or more vehicles collide, or where a vehicle collides with a stationary object. The driver of a vehicle has been shown to have a higher risk of suffering whiplash associated disorders (WAD), with some studies showing that the driver faces up to twice the risk of a passenger of suffering whiplash.

A report by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission on Queensland road accidents and personal injury claims found that of the 51,659 accident claims from 2007 to 2016, 31,675 were claims for spinal injury - with spinal injury encompassing whiplash claims. This is an astonishing 61.3% of all claims for accident injury.

Whiplash injuries can cause neck pain and can result in medical expenses for treatment and recovery. If you have suffered a whiplash injury, or have been in a road accident and suspect that you have symptoms of whiplash, speak to our expert legal team about our no win no fee whiplash injury claims.

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What is whiplash? 

Whiplash is an injury to the neck and back which is commonly suffered after a road accident involving a collision. Whiplash is a descriptor for the rapid acceleration and deceleration which occurs in a head on, side on, or rear end motor vehicle accident. When people are wearing a seatbelt the head can rapidly jerk forward and back again which can result in damage to the soft tissue and muscles in the neck and spine. 

  • Whiplash refers to the injury action itself - that is, the head movement caused by impact with another vehicle or a stationary object.
  • Whiplash associated disorders refers to the symptoms associated with whiplash - such as neck pain, tenderness, stiffness, and headaches. 

Whiplash is an injury from which many people recover well, and with the right treatment and care you are likely to make a full recovery. It is important that you do seek medical treatment immediately - especially if you are considering making a claim for whiplash compensation. A full medical assessment is necessary when going through the process of claiming for your personal injuries

Common whiplash symptoms

Common symptoms of a whiplash injury are related to the neck, and include: 

  • Neck soreness and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Aching arms
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

You may also feel unsettled or upset by the collision itself and you may feel uneasy about travelling in a car. Many people experience symptoms of whiplash straight away, while other people take some time to develop their symptoms. 

You should have a neck x-ray if you have been involved in a car accident and have neck pain, especially if you have soreness. Note though, that an x-ray is not going to reveal issues like soft tissue damage and you will need an assessment by a medical professional. Our compensation lawyers can help you with working out what assessments you need for your claim for accident compensation. 

Common causes of whiplash injuries

As we have noted, some of the most common causes of whiplash injuries relate to car accidents. However, it is possible that you may suffer a whiplash injury through something like riding on an amusement park ride, or playing spot. Slips and falls where your head hits a hard surface can also result in whiplash.

  • Car and road accidents where there is a sudden impact. This could include:
    • Rear-end car accidents - this is the most common cause as the impact shock jars the neck. 
    • Side impact injuries - another common cause of whiplash where the head is jerked suddenly from one side to the other. 
    • Pedestrian injuries - being hit by a car can cause sudden movement to the neck, and even if you do not fall over entirely, you may suffer a sufficient movement of the neck to cause whiplash injuries. 
    • Cycling accidents - upon direct impact of being hit by a vehicle or when hitting the ground. Even if you are wearing a helmet a cycling injury can still result in whiplash.
    • Being reversed into by another vehicle - even from a short distance a bump to your fender may be sufficient to cause whiplash injuries. 
  • Slip and falls - if you slip or fall, say for example on a spill in a supermarket, there may be a sufficient impact to cause a whiplash related injury. 
  • Blows to the head at work - receiving a blow to the head from a solid or heavy object at work can cause whiplash. These types of injuries are most common in warehouse, logistics and construction environments.
  • Sporting injuries - most common from sudden blows to the head in sports such as rugby, AFL, boxing or other contact sports such as mixed martial arts (MMA).

How to claim for whiplash after a car accident

If you have suffered a whiplash injury in a car accident the first thing you need to do is to get a medical assessment. You will need to make sure that your injuries are not more severe than whiplash. An insurance company providing a claim for whiplash injury compensation is going to need to see medical evidence of your injury. 

The steps you should follow when making a claim for whiplash injury compensation include: 

  1. Get a medical assessment for your injuries. Make sure you mention the full circumstances of your injury to your doctor and let them know you are considering making a claim for compensation.
  2. Contact a personal injury law specialist and come in for a free initial consultation. In this consultation we can discuss your circumstances and let you know where you stand. We will advise you of your likelihood of success in claiming and provide a rough estimate of any potential compensation payment.
  3. If it is likely that you will succeed in a claim for compensation and wish to proceed, we will commence the process by providing notice of your injury to the at-fault party. This notice will be provided within one month of our first consultation.
    1. If your injury relates to a road accident we will be notifying the compulsory third party (CTP) insurance provider of the at-fault driver.
    2. If this is a work-related injury we will notify WorkCover (if you have not already done do) and also your employer if you are seeking to make a legal claim for compensation due to negligence
    3. If your injury relates to a public place or sporting accident we will notify the at-fault party.
  4. We will proceed with negotiations with the CTP insurer and coordinate your entire case, keeping you informed throughout the process.

It is important to note that there is a three year time limit in which you must commence your claim starting from the date of your accident. While this is true we do advise commencing your claim as soon as possible. With injuries like whiplash the symptoms can resolve relatively well in a short period of time, which means that if you do wish to claim it is in your best interests to do so while the impact can be assessed.

How much money can you get for whiplash?

A claim for whiplash will include medical and healthcare expenses, loss of income, and a calculation of financial loss based on the impact your injury has had. When assessing your case, any medical expenses and future care will be included, along with any related financial losses that you may have suffered.

A whiplash claim will provide sufficient compensation to place you in a position as if the injury had not occurred. Some whiplash claims have resulted in payments of seven figures where the impact to the injured party was such that it caused significant financial upset. 

The best way of finding out what kind of payment you may receive for a whiplash injury is to come and see us for a free consultation. We can discuss your circumstances with you and let you know where you stand.

No damage to car but claiming for whiplash

At times it may be possible to claim compensation for a whiplash injury even when there was no impact with another vehicle causing damage to the car.

This is most common among passengers in a vehicle when a vehicle has to brake suddenly and heavily to avoid an accident. In many of these cases, the driver will instinctively brace themselves but passengers who may be paying less active attention to the road may find the jolt causes whiplash. Claims for injured passengers can be made against the CTP insurance (which forms part of vehicle registration) of the driver who had to brake hard. This will often be a family member, partner or friend but the claim does not impact them in any way. Our lawyers can explain everything to you in more detail to allay any natural concerns about this.

This can also happen for bus passengers and could allow a bus injury compensation claim.

Other common whiplash injury questions: 

Can you get whiplash from a fall?

Absolutely - provided that the forward and backward movement of your head and neck is sufficient to cause soft tissue or spinal injury.

Can you get whiplash from being reversed into?

Yes, you can get whiplash from being reversed into. Of course, a soft and gentle bump to the rear or front of your car is not likely to cause significant damage - but everyone is different. If you have suffered neck pain or soreness due to being reversed into then you should seek medical attention and contact us for a free consultation.

Can whiplash cause sinus problems?

Whiplash is a common precipitating factor in a sinus headache or sinus problems. The Brisbane Migraine Clinic has some information about trauma being related to sinus problems. 

How long for whiplash to heal?

Whiplash can resolve relatively quickly with appropriate treatment and care, but it is important that you seek medical attention and engage in your rehabilitation to ensure the best possible outcome. Whiplash may heal within weeks or can take months to resolve; the most important part in your recovery is how committed you are to physiotherapy and treatment. 

Long term symptoms of whiplash

Whiplash can leave a sufferer with ongoing neck pain and soreness, headaches, spinal issues and chronic pain. If you have been injured and suffered a whiplash injury it is important that you seek medical attention promptly to mitigate the potential of developing a chronic issue. 

What do to if I think I have a whiplash injury

Seek medical attention for a whiplash injury straight away and ensure that you get a treatment plan for managing your injury. If you are considering a claim for compensation call us for your free consultation and find out what your options are.

Posted by Kirk Watterston Senior Associate

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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