Receiving compensation for a whiplash injury
By Pace Law | January 27, 2020
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from a car accident. Even a seemingly minor accident, involving a collision at low speeds, can cause a serious whiplash injury.
A whiplash injury occurs when a vehicle accelerates or decelerates suddenly. This causes the head to be thrown backwards, and then forwards. This motion has the potential to cause serious damage to muscles, spinal discs, and neck ligaments.
Although whiplash injury has long been associated with car accidents that involve ‘rear-ending,’ it can also result from both head-on and side-long collisions.
Whiplash may be misinterpreted and minimized, initially, as being nothing more than ‘a pain in the neck’; victims often come to realize, as their symptoms worsen over the course of several hours or even days following the accident, that they have been injured.
Can you receive/seek compensation for whiplash?
Whiplash is a recognized medical condition, and victims are entitled to file a whiplash claim and be compensated. You can receive compensation in one of three ways:
- Lawsuit against the at-fault driver
- Accident benefits and insurance compensation
- Personal insurance
Anyone who sustains injuries in a car accident is entitled to receive statutory accident benefits. They are available for insured and uninsured road users.
- ‘Minor’ injuries – Up to $3,500
- ‘Non-catastrophic’ injuries – Up to $65,000; combined total of accident benefits and attendant care
- ‘Catastrophic’ injuries – Up to $1,000,000; combined total of accident benefits and attendant care
Ontario courts have ruled time and again that a victim may not discover the full extent of his or her injuries immediately after the accident.
If the accident benefits you receive are not sufficient to cover your medical care, it is likely that the claims adjuster has not assessed your injuries correctly. You may have to dispute it with the insurance company or pursue a lawsuit.
There is no exact formula for calculating compensation, but an experienced Toronto car accident lawyer can advise you as to the range of compensation you can reasonably expect, based on the established facts of your case.
How do you know you have whiplash?
A whiplash injury is not immediately obvious. The shock from a car accident can mask the pain and, as a result, it may take two or three days before you notice symptoms. Common symptoms of whiplash from rear-ending and other car collisions are:
- Pain in the lower back
- Cervical pain (pain in the neck and upper back)
- Soreness or inability to move the neck
- Jaw pain
- Numbness in arms and hands
- Blurred vision
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Constant fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
The severity of the injury, your age, loss of income, pain and suffering, and your attendant care needs are all important factors in determining the compensation you will receive.
Did you know whiplash symptoms may take several days to become obvious, and that they can last for up to a year?
An experienced team of car accident lawyers proves whiplash through medical reports, police reports, damage to cars, and accident reconstruction. If you have suffered whiplash after a car accident, make sure there is a formal record of your visits to the doctor and the diagnosis provided.
Representations to the insurer and court cases seeking compensation for a whiplash injury are based on:
- The speed and direction of travel of the cars
- Whether or not seatbelts were worn
- Whether or not the airbags were deployed
- Design of the headrests
- Whether or not emergency personnel used head and neck restraints
- Pre-existing medical conditions
Whiplash and the myth of the ‘fake injury’
Misinformation about whiplash being a ‘fake injury’ is, unfortunately, all too common and widespread. Such claims are simply untrue. Whiplash is a serious medical condition, one which has been diagnosed appropriately time and time again. Have you ever wondered why the headrests in your car are shaped the way they are? Manufacturers are constantly trying to develop headrests that reduce the violent jerking motion of the head in accident as they recognize how often whiplash results from sudden acceleration/deceleration forces.
What to do if you think you have whiplash?
If you feel the onset of any of the common whiplash symptoms – headaches, nausea, dizziness, backache – seek medical attention immediately. Get in touch with a car accident lawyer promptly to make sure you do not forfeit your claim because of a lack of formal documentation.