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Myth of the Week

Whiplash it seems, above all other injuries, has become synonymous in the minds of the public with the law surrounding personal injury. Maybe it’s because it’s the injury we are most likely to encounter if we are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road accident or maybe it’s the prevalence of adverts depicting people with large white surgical collars smiling as they collect their compensation.

Whatever the reason, despite the high profile of whiplash (or more likely because of it) whiplash remains a misunderstood concept around which several myths swirl. I will attempt to address three such myths.

MYTH #1 Whiplash only relates to car accidents

Whiplash is caused by the head being jolted violently. The force of the weight of your head moving rapidly in one direction while your neck and torso attempt to pull it in another causes muscles, tendons and ligaments to pull and tear. This is common in a car crash scenario, particularly in rear-end shunt crashes. However whiplash can be caused in many other scenarios from being struck on the head, slips and falls and a variety of sporting misfortunes.   

MYTH #2 Whiplash is trivial

There is a perception that whiplash is a short lived and rather inconsequential injury. As with most soft tissue injuries there is a wide spectrum of severity. At the lower end of that spectrum whiplash may only persist for a number of days and be little more than a trifling inconvenience. However, at the opposite end of the spectrum are severe injuries which can continue for several years. Persistent neck and back pain can severely limit ones standard of living; along with the pain itself whiplash victims may find that their social life, hobbies, stress levels and sleep are all negatively affected.    

MYTH #3 Whiplash claims are open to abuse

This is a particularly troubling myth, and one that has become almost legend. This is most probably due to the frequently encountered anecdotal story of the car crash victim who appears fine and healthy at the road side before the greedy rascal puts in a claim for debilitating whiplash. This is also a myth that evokes great frustration amongst the public, particularly as there is a fear that the cost of fraudulent claims will be paid not by multinational insurance companies but by all of us in higher premiums. Fortunately this is usually the case of smoke but no fire. The circumstances may seem suspicious but in fact it is quite normal for whiplash symptoms to take hours or even days to fully develop. Whilst the risk of fraud can never be entirely eliminated, there are many safeguards in place to prevent such claims. There must be independent evidence of an accident having occurred, medical records will usually be sought to verify injuries and an independent medical expert will be instructed to carry out a report on potential victims.

Blog by Ronan Platt

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