The subject of whiplash injuries continues to appear regularly in the news and in this post we’re looking at the mechanism of the typical whiplash injury.
The medical difficulty which exists in proving the existence and extent of these injuries means there’s always going to be doubters shouting (sarcastically) “Git ower it!” at people who claim compensation for whiplash.
The Westminster Government say they are going after the “whiplash fraudsters” who invent or at least exaggerate their injuries following road traffic accidents.
On the other hand, if you’ve ever suffered a whiplash injury yourself you will know what a miserable experience it can be, interfering with all areas of daily life.
During Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has been encouraging prevention of whiplash injuries by motorists avoiding the dangerous practice of tailgating the vehicle in front.
The classic whiplash accident scenario
The classic scenario for a whiplash injury occurs when the vehicle in which you are travelling is struck from behind – one possible result of tailgating. Your vehicle suddenly accelerates, as a result. If you are wearing a seatbelt, your body is held securely but your neck and head are not.
The neck moves back …
In the first stage after impact, your body moves forward and your head and neck are momentarily left behind. This causes your neck to extend backwards as far as it will go. The range of backward movement of your neck will be restricted if you have a properly adjusted headrest on your seat.
… and then forward
In the next stage of movement, your neck and head flex suddenly forwards. Your chin may well hit your chest. The range of forward movement is only restricted by what is anatomically possible for you. Accordingly, there is no possibility of external restraint as there is with the backward movement if a headrest is in place.
Injury in an instant – involving significant forces
This whole sequence of extension then flexion of your neck is generally over in less than half a second. As it is over so fast, your recollection of what happened may not be accurate – after all, your head and neck end up in the position they were in at the point of impact.
A human head weighs about seven pounds. The forces involved in whiplash can be as much as 4G. The back and forth movement of the neck results in a sprain to your neck. The acceleration of the head in the circumstances is referred to as Delta V.
Not only caused by rear-end shunts
Experts now agree that whiplash injuries can be caused other than by rear end shunts. The collision may be from an oblique angle or even from the side. Where there is a head-on impact, this generally produces only the ‘second stage’ flexion force on the neck and not the potentially unrestrained (backward) neck extension of the other angles of impact, especially from behind.
In a rear-end collision, airbags do not usually deploy. It can also be argued that, in that type of accident, seatbelts can in fact increase the severity of the symptoms produced.
Get in touch with us for help
If you have suffered a whiplash injury as a result of a road traffic accident, get in touch with us for advice. Please remember we offer complimentary initial discussions for any of our services with no obligation to proceed.
We are here to help you so if you would like some more information or have a legal question, please call us on 01343 544077.
We can help you git ower it.