What Is A Whiplash Injury And Can You Make A Whiplash Injury Claim?
By Nick Jervis

Many people have heard stories of people suffering a whiplash injury, but it is not until you suffer one yourself that you really understand how debilitating and painful it can be. If you think you have suffered a whiplash injury, how can you be sure and what action can you take?
What Causes A Whiplash Injury? Whiplash injury can be caused anytime that the head is thrown forwards and backwards violently. This can happen by being thrown from horses and in other sporting accidents but on most occasions it happens in a car or other motor vehicle accidents.
The most common accident leading to whiplash is when a car is stationary at a junction and another vehicle drives into the back of it. It is the impact on the vehicle that leads to the injury. Most people now will be wearing a seatbelt when their vehicle is collided with and this actually adds to the whiplash injury (but saves far more serious injury from happening). The car starts to move forward with the impact and the body, as it is touching the car seat also moves forward. However, because the head and neck are not restrained by a seatbelt they do not move forwards until they connect with the headrest of the car, by which time the body has been restrained by the seatbelt. Therefore, the head "whips" forward as the body is moving backwards. The head and neck are then whipped back. In the process the neck travels way beyond its normal ranges of movement and the neck tissues and muscles are stretched. This is the "whiplash injury".
Pain Suffered. The pain experienced from a whiplash injury is not only neck pain, but can also include back and shoulder pain, headaches and dizziness. On occasions jaw injury can also be sustained. It is not unusual for sufferers of a whiplash injury to feel 'out of sorts' for a week or more after the accident.
Treatment. Whereas a neck collar used to be the regular form of treatment for a whiplash injury, nowadays doctors normally like to keep the patient mobile and will only subscribe painkillers or anti-inflammtories. Most people make a fairly swift recovery from a whiplash injury in a matter of days or weeks. Other people can have pain and suffering and limited range of movement in their neck for some months and in the worst occasions these symptoms can be permanent.
Making A Claim For Whiplash. If you have suffered a whiplash injury following an accident that was not your fault, you should seek specialist legal advice. Whilst you have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim for compensation, you should take action sooner rather than later to improve your chances of a successful claim. Ensure that you choose a solicitor that will allow you to keep ALL of your compensation and will not charge you to make a claim. You should not have to pay any administration costs to make a claim (although some companies will try and charge you there is no need to choose the ones that do).
Summary. A whiplash injury usually occurs when a stationary vehicle is collided with from the rear. The over stretching of the neck muscles leads to neck pain, the whiplash injury. This is usually treated with pain killers or anti-inflammatories and should not lead to longterm complications. If the accident was not your fault you can make a claim for whiplash injury compensation.

Nicholas Jervis is a solicitor (non-practising) and a legal marketing consultant to Gray Hooper Holt Solicitors.

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