The official definition of whiplash is an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It is best known for causing damage to the soft tissues of the neck but can also cause bony injuries. Whiplash most commonly results from a rear-end impact in a motor vehicle collision.
The affected person’s neck is suddenly forced from a straight position to an abnormal S-shaped curve within a few milliseconds, flinging the head back and pushing the chest forward. The force stretches, tears and pinches the soft tissues supporting the neck, resulting in what is known as a whiplash injury.
In most accidents, whiplash is not evident at the time of the accident.
People generally start to notice their neck and shoulders are sore a couple of days after their motor vehicle accident.
Signs and symptoms of whiplash vary from person to person and are dependent on a number of things, such as the force in the accident, the age and health of the person who is affected and the safety rating of the motor vehicle the person was driving. Signs and symptoms of whiplash can include:
– Pain and stiffness
– Decreased range of movement
– Limb weakness
– Bone fractures or dislocation
In its mildest form, whiplash is generally considered an acute injury and may resolve on its own within 2-3 weeks following the injury.
In moderate cases, physiotherapy or medical intervention may be needed to aid healing and recovery.
In severe cases, the damage may be permanent.
The Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Scheme was introduced in 2017. It is a statutory benefits scheme and covers all persons injured in a motor vehicle accident regardless of who is at fault. It encourages early and suitable treatment to achieve the best recovery for people who suffer minor injuries in a motor vehicle accident.
An at fault driver with a minor injury such as whiplash is covered for up to 26 weeks under the statutory benefits scheme for:
– Weekly income payments if off work during that time;
– Medical treatment and expenses; and
– Domestic and personal care in their home.
Benefits may begin as soon as the claim is made. It is recommended the claim is lodged within 28 days; however, the limitation period is 12 weeks.
The insurer assesses and determines the claim and must decide within 3 months of the lodgement of the claim whether the injury meets the definition of a minor injury under the CTP scheme.
Some people recover from whiplash injuries within a few weeks while others can take months, everyone is different. People who stay active and keep working are found to have a better recovery than those who don’t.
If you are not an at fault driver, the benefits may continue for up to 2 years if you have more than minor injuries. Medical treatment can continue for life if necessary.
People with more severe whiplash injuries may be entitled to payment of medical expenses, rehabilitation, loss of wages and legal fees. If diagnosed with a whiplash associated disorder (WAD) you may be entitled to a lump sum payment under certain circumstances.
You should see your doctor for a medical examination and advice about treatment as soon as whiplash symptoms appear.
If you or a family member have suffered whiplash or any other injury resulting from a motor vehicle accident, you should seek immediate advice regarding your legal rights as time limits do apply.
The lawyers at The Law Office of Conrad Curry have many years of experience dealing with motor vehicle accident claims and will ensure you achieve the best outcome from your claim.