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A pain in the neck: the dilemmas of diagnosing whiplash

The government recently issued a report expressing concern that medical evidence relating to cases of whiplash is not always as strong as it should be.

Whiplash injuries

When it comes to car accidents in particular, whiplash is one of the most common injuries – and there has been increasing concern that claimants are exaggerating the condition or even inventing whiplash symptoms.

Part of the study therefore suggested some kind of accreditation of medical experts in an attempt to ensure greater consistency for these types of cases.

A Review of the Law

Claims for whiplash have been increasing year on year, and the insurance sector itself has suggested a review of the law as matter of public policy. In fact, it’s been suggested that people shouldn’t be able to claim for ‘low value’ whiplash at all – the only financial recompense an insurance company should pay is for the cost of medical treatment, such as physiotherapy. Commentators have criticised the insurance industry, accusing them of seeking to increase profits at the expense of genuinely injured accident victims.

Why Is Whiplash So Problematic?

For starters, it’s a pretty vague and subjective medical condition.

Whiplash is commonly defined as a neck sprain, often arising as the result of a road traffic accident where there is a significant deceleration. Whiplash occurs very quickly, with the head thrown backwards first then forwards rapidly. Usually the whole event during which the whiplash occurs is over within half a second.

A significant factor is the actual force involved, with the level of strain on the cervical spine being as much as 4g.

How is Whiplash Caused?

The nature of whiplash accidents and the fact they’re often associated with rear end collisions means that airbags usually aren’t deployed. Furthermore – and somewhat ironically considering the law insists drivers and passengers wear seatbelts – it’s the one type of injury where actually wearing a seatbelt can increase the severity and pain of the injury.

You also don’t need to be travelling fast to suffer from whiplash, as these injuries can be sustained even at speeds as low as 10mph or less.

And there’s a gender difference too, with research revealing that women are more susceptible to whiplash injuries than men.

Medical practitioners often find that the greatest difficulty posed by cases of whiplash is that it has no physical signs and can’t be detected on an MRI or x-ray.

Post-accident Symptoms of Whiplash

The most significant factors post-accident in whiplash cases are the speed and severity of its onset. Generally, the earlier you start to feel pain the more severe the whiplash injury will be. If the pain starts a day or so after the accident, however, the severity of the injury is usually less severe.

The symptoms of whiplash will vary from person to person, but generally include signs such as:

– neck pain
– shoulder pain
– headache
– lower back pain
– dizziness
– jaw pain (from the mouth being forced opened by the impact)
– concussion
– chronic pain

Activities to be Avoided

There are certain activities which can exacerbate the symptoms of whiplash and should therefore be avoided. These include:

– hoovering
– lifting
– maintaining fixed posture (watching television or using a computer)
– swimming (breaststroke in particular, if the head’s kept out the water)

Make your claim today

The difficulties associated with whiplash claims makes it important that a specialist firm of solicitors (not an unqualified claims company) is consulted.

New Deal – Fair Deal has a team of expert solicitors who have dealt successfully with hundreds of whiplash claims. Just one phone call will put you through to a specialist lawyer and get you on your way to making a claim for the compensation you deserve.

Why you should use us

– We are members of the Law Society and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
– Your case will be matched to a lawyer with the most relevant expertise
– We are refreshingly free of legal jargon
– We have an excellent track record
– We offer genuine No Win – No Fee
– There are no middlemen or claims companies, You deal direct with qualified lawyers
– Out of office hours service

For a completely free, no obligation case assessment, call us today on 0333 888 0408 or email us at

Slee Blackwell

Slee Blackwell

Slee Blackwell

Slee Blackwell

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Call the Slee Blackwell helpline on 0333 888 0408