You may be able to claim compensation if you have suffered a whiplash injury if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings, the most common of which is a car accident (e.g. being hit by another vehicle from behind).
If you sustain whiplash from a motor vehicle accident and it was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner you can claim compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer. It's common for rear-end collisions to cause whiplash injuries to the neck.
Examples: Jeff was injured in a car accident when a delivery truck failed to stop at a red light because its brakes were not properly maintained. Jeff can claim compensation from the owner of the delivery truck through its CTP insurer.
Rick was injured in a car collision because he didn’t look properly before pulling out onto a main road. Rick is unable to claim compensation for his injuries because the accident was totally his fault (although exceptions may apply for catastrophic accidents). If the accident occurred after July 1, 2016 he may be able to seek necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation services through the National Injury Insurance Scheme of Queensland (NIISQ).
See Also: Motor vehicle injury claims
If you've have a severe whiplash injury and were not at fault then your entitlements to compensation may include the future loss of income and ongoing medical costs such as physio or surgery required.
While whiplash can have mild and short term impacts it's also possible to get severe whiplash from accidents such as a high speed rear end accidents causing a large shock to the neck and body. The impacts of severe whiplash can last months or even years. Typical symptoms of severe whiplash associated disorder can include serious neck pain, limited motion and pain in the arms and back due to nerve compression.
If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.
Examples: Jeff sustains a whiplash injury while working as a barman when a drunk patron grabs him, shakes him and punches him in the face. Jeff’s employer has no systems in place to ensure the responsible service of alcohol. The patron had become progressively more drunk over the course of the evening and bar staff continued to serve him alcohol notwithstanding his intoxication. Jeff may be able to claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries.
Rick suffers whiplash at work when a co-worker becomes irate and punches him in the back of the head. The co-worker had never been violent in the workplace before. Rick may not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as violence is not necessarily a foreseeable risk that his employer had to take steps to protect its employees against. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.
See also: WorkCover Claims
Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury. This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property they must rectify it or warn people of the danger.
Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface or tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.
Examples: Jeff is sitting in his doctor’s surgery when a heavy ceiling panel falls, striking him on the head causing him to suffer a neck injury. Jeff may be able to claim compensation for his injuries.
Rick sustains a whiplash injury when he is thrown off the back of his jet ski in Moreton Bay. Rick may not be able to claim compensation since his injury resulted largely from his own actions and no insurance regime covers his loss.
In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.
The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:
General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your whiplash injury. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.
For example a serious neck injury is rated 16 to 40 with a monetary range of $27,370 to $95,000 whereas a minor cervical spine injury is rated 0 to 4 with a monetary range of $0 to $5,560.
Other elements that can be claimed for include:
Whiplash is essentially a neck strain, or tears to the muscle or tendons in the neck. It usually results in pain, stiffness and limited range of movement.
Studies have recently shown that whiplash victims are also at increased risk of experiencing concurrent traumatic brain injury. A brain injury can be caused even if there is no direct impact to the head, where the brain becomes compressed, twisted, or distorted inside the skull.
See also: Brain Injury Compensation.
Whiplash associated disorders are graded by the prevalence of symptoms and the severity of those symptoms.
Whiplash is known as an acceleration / deceleration injury, as it is usually caused by the head being thrown one way and then the other.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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