Whiplash injury and accident injury claims

Whiplash injury is one of the most common injuries in car accidents, but it is also one of the most commonly misunderstood. In this article we look at what whiplash injury is, how it can be treated and what compensation may be available from whiplash accident injury claims.

What is whiplash injury?

A whiplash injury is a sprain of soft tissue in a person’s neck, which occurs when their head rapidly moves forwards and backwards or from side to side. The sudden movement causes damage to ligaments, tendons and muscles in the neck. This often happens in rear-end car accidents but also can occur due to a rugby tackle, a skiing accident, bungee jumping or an amusement park ride.

Whiplash symptoms often occur hours after the accident and can last for weeks or even months, depending on the severity of the injury. Symptoms include bruising and swelling along with pain and stiffness to a person’s neck, back and shoulders.

How can whiplash injury be treated?

There are a number of things you can do to start the healing process and reduce the pain of whiplash injury. Your doctor can advise on the appropriate treatment and pain relief you can take to reduce your discomfort while you recover.

A physiotherapist may also be recommended to help treat the injury and advise on the types of stretches you can do to restore mobility to your neck and get you on the road to recovery. However, if the symptoms don’t improve or get worse then you should continue to consult with your doctor for further treatment.

What compensation can you expect for whiplash injury?

Compensation for whiplash injury varies from case to case, depending upon the severity of the injury and the level of a person’s impairment. Some recent examples highlight the differences in outcome.

In a 2016 decision, Martin v Andrews & Anor, a well-paid mining business owner was injured in a car accident and suffered whiplash injuries to his neck and back. He had a long history of working hard but after he suffered his whiplash injury he couldn’t continue. As a result the court awarded him more than $1.25 million in compensation, including loss of past and future earnings and superannuation.

And in the NSW decision Collis v Hagelstein; Hagelstein v Slater, a Gosford man was injured in a car accident caused by cows who had made their way onto the highway from a nearby paddock. He suffered very serious injuries to his head and neck as well as psychological injury. The Court awarded him more than $1 million in compensation.

In another recent NSW decision, Ghassani v Napier, a man suffered whiplash injuries from an accident when his car was hit from behind. He had pre-existing injuries from other road accidents, and in the end his lost earning capacity and other expenses resulting from this accident amounted to a compensation sum of just over $10,000.

Suffered a whiplash injury in NSW? Talk to our lawyers

If you’ve suffered from whiplash and other injuries in a car accident, speak to our senior lawyers to find out about the accident injury claims that may be available to you. Get the compensation you need to move on with your life.

Further reading

  • “Whiplash”, healthdirect.gov.au
  • “Whiplash (medicine)”, wikipedia.org
  • “Whiplash”, medicinenet.com
  • Martin v Andrews & Anor [2016] QSC 020, archive.sclqld.org.au
  • Collis v Hagelstein; Hagelstein v Slater [2015] NSWDC 351, caselaw.nsw.gov.au
  • Ghassani v Napier [2017] NSWDC 130, caselaw.nsw.gov.au

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