Whiplash is an injury to the neck that happens when a person’s head moves violently backwards and forwards in a whipping motion, typically resulting from a rear-end collision. Whiplash injuries may also occur during other accidents where the neck is forced to accelerate and decelerate quickly, such as contact sports, physical assault, cycling accidents and falling backwards. Whiplash involves soft-tissue damage to the neck, including the ligaments, muscles and nerves, which can become damaged,and stretch or tear as a result of the forceful back and forth movement.
An injured person may not feel significant symptoms from whiplash for days after their accident, or even longer in some cases. And, whiplash symptoms can be fairly mild and resolve quickly in some cases, but for others, the symptoms can result in chronic pain and compromised mobility that lasts for years. Symptoms often include:
- Ongoing neck, head and/or shoulder pain;
- Problems sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Ringing in the ears
- Shoulder instability
After an accident, such as a rear-end collision, it’s important to monitor for symptoms and seek medical treatment if symptoms persist. You should see your doctor immediately if: you experience acute pain; it’s painful to move your head; symptoms spread to your arms or shoulders; or your arms feel numb or weak.
Your doctor will perform tests to diagnose your injury and find out how severely you were injured, which will likely include imaging tests such as X-rays, an MRI or a CAT scan. Another goal of these tests is to rule out other damage such as a spinal injury. Your doctor will likely prescribe physical therapy or a rehabilitation program for your whiplash injury. A foam collar may also be recommended to allow the muscles in your neck to rest and heal.
If you sustained a serious whiplash injury in a rear-end collision, you are entitled to claim damages against the driver who caused your accident. Rear-end collisions typically result from following too closely and under Ontario law, the rear driver is almost always found at fault in such collisions.
Some of the damages to which you may be entitled include: past and future loss of income if you are unable to work, rehabilitation expenses such as physiotherapy and chiropractic fees, caregiver expenses, and pain and suffering damages. If you want to make a claim, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced whiplash lawyer at Injury Lawyers of Ontario to ensure that you don’t miss any claim deadlines and are taking the proper steps towards making a successful claim. It’s also important to keep track of all your expenses and receipts, and make sure to follow your physician’s recommendations for treatment so that you can demonstrate that you are mitigating your injuries.
A.B. v. Waite (2018) is a personal injury action that involves a woman who suffered whiplash or cervical strain during a rear-end collision. Although it was a relatively minor accident, the plaintiff alleged that the accident caused her to developed debilitating chronic pain and she never fully recovered from her injury. Due to her chronic pain, she had to regularly undergo injections and take strong pain killers to allow her to cope with daily living activities. The plaintiff's treating physicians and experts gave evidence that she was suffering from debilitating headaches, back pain and neck pain that originates from facet joints that are consistent with a whiplash injury. Further, her condition significantly interfered with her ability to work in her regular employment and to function in most of her usual activities.
Whiplash is a fairly common injury and most people recover within a few months; however, for some people, whiplash can result in long-term disability. Some studies suggest that persons who have been suffering whiplash symptoms for 6 months never fully recover. And, MRIs of the spine for persons suffering from acute whiplash demonstrate that a minority of victims also have a measurable injury in their spine. Further, whiplash is sometimes a multi-faced injury that not only effects the neck, but also causes shoulder instability, nerve symptoms and other significant complications. Whiplash injury should be taken seriously. Don't delay in getting a prompt and accurate diagnosis if you are suffering from any serious symptoms.