If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve recently been involved in a car accident and are wondering if the symptoms you are feeling are a direct result of the accident.
Whiplash can be painful, uncomfortable and can sometimes prevent you from completing day to day tasks that you could usually do with ease.
This article is just a guide on what to do if you think you may be suffering from whiplash and should in no way be used to diagnose, treat or rehabilitate yourself. Only a practicing medical professional is qualified to advise or treat your injuries.
What Is Whiplash?
Although whiplash most commonly a result of a motor vehicle accident, you can suffer whiplash from any type of impact that causes your body (specifically your head) to jerk forward. Whiplash can occur whilst riding rollercoasters or sporting accidents such as skiing.
Whilst the seatbelt protects your body and torso, you head is left exposed and unprotected. The force of an impact causes your unrestrained head to jolt forward. This sudden motion is what is called the “whip effect” and causes the strain in your neck and back.
The severity of your injuries will depend on many different aspects of the accident such as speed and size of the vehicles. Although most people believe that whiplash only occurs after a high-speed collision, whiplash can occur in accidents of as little as 10 kmh.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Whiplash, like any other injury, isn’t nice, it really is a ‘pain in the neck’ so to speak. That being said, there are a lot more injuries associated with whiplash other than neck pain. The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Swelling and tenderness of the neck
- Restricted movement in the neck
- Shoulder or arm pain
In most cases, symptoms of whiplash will appear 24 hours after the accident but can sometimes they can take days or even weeks to develop.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Lower back pain
- Blurred vision
- Numbness or pain in the arms and hands
These are just some of the most common symptoms but are not limited to these.
Make sure you keep a note of every symptom that you have, no matter how small you may think it is.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have Whiplash?
If you think you may be suffering from any of these symptoms it is best to seek medical attention so that you can be properly diagnosed. Make sure you tell the doctor every symptom you have experienced so that they can best treat your injuries.
The doctor may also take some X-rays to check the severity of your injuries.
Painkillers will usually be prescribed by your doctor to help with the pain and you may be required to wear a neck collar for more support.
Further check-ups are usually required in order to see how your injuries are improving and if there is any further treatment like rehabilitation is required.
How Long Until My Whiplash Heals?
The recovery time will depend entirely on the severity of your injuries. Some people’s injuries heal in a couple of days whilst others can take weeks and sometimes months to heal properly.
Each person is different so there is no right or wrong recovery time for whiplash injuries. The most important thing to remember is that these things can’t be rushed. Your body needs time to heal itself to fully recover, pushing yourself is only going to make the recovery time longer.
Following the instructions provided by your doctor is the best way to ensure that you recover from your injuries as quickly as possible.
If your doctor has recommended physiotherapy, even if you don’t think you need it, it’s best to attend the sessions. Making sure you get the help needed early on will speed your recovery and help prevent further complications in the future.
Can I Claim?
If the whiplash you have sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident that wasn’t your fault, you will more than likely be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries. It is important that you either report, take pictures or document your accident, that way there is a record of the accident if it is needed further down the line.
Medical records obtained from your doctor will also help support your case, so it is imperative that you have sought medical attention.
What Will I Be Entitled To?
You may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering your injury has caused. You may also be able to claim compensation for:
- Any loss of earnings due to time off work (past, current and future)
- Medical expenses including care and support
- Travel expenses
- Any modifications needed to your vehicle following the accident
The only way to know the find out how much compensation you could be owed is to speak with a lawyer. Even then, they can only provide an estimate. It isn’t until the claim is settled that you will truly know what compensation you will receive.
How Do I Start My Claim?
To best way to get the ball rolling on your personal injury compensation claim is to speak with a lawyer. They can tell you straight away if you are eligible to make a claim. Most personal injury lawyers offer a no win no fee guarantee which means if for any reason your case is not successful, you won’t have to pay towards the legal costs.
Making sure you research your lawyer fully is also important as you want to ensure you select a law firm that specializes in personal injury claims like whiplash. In doing so, you will give yourself the best chance of receiving the greatest possible outcome and the maximum compensation you deserve.
Rachel Erin, Media manager at Australian Accident Helpline. They are a national personal injury compensation company based in Australia specializing in whiplash injuries.