Whiplash Injuries

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Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash Injuries


Because whiplash is a common injury for those who have been involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is often regarded as less than serious by those who are unfamiliar with it. An employer may expect an employee with a whiplash injury to resume all work activities the day after an accident, for example. This may be reasonable in the case of mild whiplash, but too much to expect from someone with a more serious whiplash injury. The symptoms of whiplash can include:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • shoulder pain
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • lower back pain
  • dizziness
  • pain in the arm or hand
  • numbness in the arm or hand
  • ringing in the ears
  • blurred vision
  • concentration or memory problems
  • irritability
  • sleeplessness
  • fatigue

These symptoms may not appear until several hours after the accident, and they may require a CT scan or MRI to diagnose. Although most whiplash victims recover fully, they often need time to heal and recover. They may also need medical support such as physiotherapy, pain medication, muscle relaxants, heat and cold therapy, or, in some cases, traction. In order to understand whiplash, it’s important to know what it is.


What is Whiplash?


Whiplash is an injury to the neck that is caused when the neck is suddenly and sharply forced forward and then backward (or vice versa), like the motion of a whip. This forcible movement can cause injury to the muscles, tissues, and vertebrae of the neck. The most common cause of whiplash is a motor vehicle collision that features a sudden increase in speed, or a sudden decrease in speed. Rear-end or side-impact motor vehicle collisions often cause whiplash, for example.


Whiplash associated disorders have been categorized into four “grades.” These are:


Grade 0: No pain or discomfort. No physical signs of injury.

Grade 1: Neck pain, stiffness or tenderness. No physical signs of injury.

Grade 2: Neck pain, stiffness or tenderness and some physical signs of injury such as trouble turning the head.

Grade 3: Pain, stiffness or tenderness and neurological signs of injury, such as changes to reflexes or weakness in the arms.

Grade 4: Pain, and fracture or dislocation of the neck.


Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer


While most people with whiplash will make a full recovery, those with Grade 3 or Grade 4 injuries may take several months to recover, and in a small number of cases whiplash can lead to chronic back pain or to lasting mental health issues. If you have suffered this type of injury, you may be eligible for insurance benefits from your insurance company or compensation through a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.


Some of the benefits that you may be eligible for include:

  • Lost income benefits. If you are unable to work due to your injury, your insurance should provide benefits to compensate for lost income.
  • Medical treatments. If you require treatments that are not covered by OHIP (or other provincial health care insurance,) you may be reimbursed by insurance.

Because whiplash is considered a “minor” injury, Ontario law caps the amount you may claim at $3,500. However, if you are able to establish that the injuries you suffered are not minor, you may be able to make a much larger claim, including claiming for long-term disability. Finally, if your injury meets certain criteria, you may be able to sue for costs associated with being disabled, as well as for pain and suffering.


As soon as you have received medical treatment, contact a personal injury lawyer in order to find out more about your rights. Sometimes people hesitate to contact a lawyer because they’re afraid that getting legal advice will be costly. While in many areas of law this can be true, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis: they don’t get paid up-front, rather, they receive a percentage of any settlement you receive. In other words, they don’t get paid until you do! Statistics show that people who work with a lawyer recover much higher damages than those who try to manage their own file, so there is no “downside” to engaging a personal injury lawyer. And most personal injury law firms offer you a free initial consultation.


Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer


There are many personal injury law firms in the Greater Toronto Area, and it can be tough to know which firm will be the best fit for you. Look for a firm that has a good track record of fighting for their clients, and for one that meets your needs. For example, if you are unable to travel, look for a law firm that offers home or hospital visits by their lawyers. If you are more comfortable communicating in a language other than English or French, look for a law firm that offers services in multiple languages. Meet with a lawyer and learn more about the process and what you can expect.


Whiplash injuries can be more devastating than you expect. The right personal injury lawyer can be a tremendous help to your family during a tough time. Contact a personal injury lawyer in the GTA today to explore your options.