If you have ever been in a road accident, you’ll know how quickly they can occur and how quickly the impact can happen, too. The impact leads to a hefty shot of adrenaline being released into the body, allowing for the fight-or-flight mechanism to set in – even though, in this case, the threat has already passed. One of the more common injuries to get when you have a car accident is whiplash. This is notable because it isn’t always obvious straight away that you have it. Delayed reactions with whiplash are very common, and as we will see here, there are reasons why this may happen.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck, when the soft tissues inside are strained too far at the point of impact. Muscles, tendons and ligaments are all designed to stretch to an extent, but once that limit is reached and exceeded, whiplash can result.
The name derives from the crack of a whip – a sudden and severe movement that occurs at speed. The greater the speed your accident occurred at, the more chance there is you could suffer from whiplash. However, even accidents occurring at lower speed can incur whiplash, and you may also suffer delayed reactions with whiplash becoming apparent only some time after the accident.
What symptoms might arise if you do develop whiplash?
Whiplash may present with lots of symptoms. Not all people with this injury will get the exact same symptoms; some may have one or two but not others, whereas other people will have other, more severe symptoms.
The most common symptom is neck pain, and general stiffness and discomfort in the neck area. You may find you cannot move it as much as you normally would. Sometimes, the pain and discomfort will spread to the back, shoulders and arms, and some people experience pins and needles and numbness. This can be caused by swelling that presses on nerves in the area.
Headaches and lack of sleep may also result, which in turn can make you feel worse. If you have had a road accident and you think you may have developed whiplash, whether you have delayed reactions with whiplash or not, you should see your GP as soon as you can. This is important to confirm the diagnosis, and to make sure there are no injuries that are more serious. It is virtually impossible to remember the impact and exactly what you felt and experienced, so being checked out in this instance is a very good idea. If you lost consciousness, suffer from blurred vision or the pain is severe, or you have any other concerns, the faster you seek treatment, the better. It could be vital to receiving the right care for your neck injury.
It also means you have evidence of your injuries and when you suffered them. This might be prudent if you make a compensation claim against the third party who caused the accident.
Why might you get delayed reactions with whiplash?
Delayed reactions with whiplash are very common. It often takes between six and 12 hours for symptoms to develop, and even then, it can take longer for them to develop fully. This means you may assume you have escaped the accident with no injuries – and then you wake up the next day with a stiff neck and severe pain, and you realise this was in fact not the case.
We have already learned the release of adrenaline can mean you don’t feel anything immediately following the accident. It is only a few hours afterwards, or the next day, when the aches and pains will develop and become apparent. The nature of the injury to the soft tissues of the neck also means the swelling will take a while to develop, even though it may begin immediately following the accident. You will likely feel worse as you suffer sleep disturbance, poor concentration and other symptoms as well.
Just as there can be delayed reactions with whiplash, there can sometimes be a delay in recovery, too. Most people will suffer acute whiplash that will be resolved within a few days or weeks, depending on its severity. However, some people suffer late whiplash syndrome, or chronic whiplash, where the symptoms last far longer. It was once the case that immobilising the neck in a stiff collar was the preferred treatment. Now, however, it is recognised that continuing to move it gently supports a faster recovery. Physiotherapy can sometimes help you recover from whiplash if the symptoms are persistent.
Can you make a claim for compensation following a car accident?
You can if there is ample proof that a third party caused the crash through negligence. If you have suffered injuries including whiplash, you can make a claim to seek compensation for each injury you experienced in the crash. They do not have to be serious to be compensated for; indeed, mild whiplash may still result in a compensation award if you can prove that negligence was the cause of the accident. Medical evidence can help, as can evidence from the scene.
This can be difficult to assess, particularly when you are trying to recover from whiplash and perhaps other painful injuries as well. When you are ready to find out more, you need only get in touch with the advisors at Accident Advice Helpline to get the answers you’re looking for. Delayed reactions to whiplash can be hard to deal with, particularly if you thought you had got away from the accident unscathed initially. If you wish to learn more about a potential compensation claim, simply call free now on 0800 689 0500. Alternatively, if you only have access to a mobile phone, you can ring our team on 0333 500 0993.
We have experience stretching back over more than 16 years, and we’ve helped many others in a similar situation to you. Isn’t it time you found out whether a no-win, no-fee* claim could be concluded in your favour?
Date Published: March 2, 2015
Author: Accident Advice