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Factors affecting the chance of suffering a whiplash injury

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It is a common misconception that passengers who are travelling in the same car and are involved in a road traffic accident will suffer the same type of whiplash injury. One of the passengers may be injured significantly and be in a lot of pain for months whereas another may recover within only a few weeks.

This is because there are a complex array of factors at play, ranging from the height, weight and health of the individual passengers to their location in the car relative to the points of impact with another vehicle or road furniture etc.



One factor affecting the chance of suffering from a whiplash injury is the speed at which the car crash takes place. If the crash happens when the vehicles are travelling at a low speed then the chances are that the whiplash injury will not be as severe as if the car was travelling fast on a motorway.

However, even collisions occurring at speeds as low as 5mph can result in whiplash injury and Whiplash Associated Disorders (WADs) while higher speed collisions do not necessarily lead to whiplash.

Cervical Spine

Previous Kneck Problems

Furthermore, if a passenger suffers from a pre-existing neck-injury then there is a greater chance they will suffer whiplash injury in a car crash than other passengers involved in the same incident; pre-existing weakness in the cervical spine (the neck) is a significant factor influencing whether a person is likely to suffer whiplash injury.

Driving Position

Driving Position

Bad in-vehicle posture is another reliable indicator in a person's susceptibility to whiplash in a car accident. This means that, compared to a fellow passenger with good posture, a passenger who has poor posture at the time of impact may suffer more serious injury. Therefore it is not unusual for different passengers in the same car to experience different levels of pain and degrees of injury after a car crash. As such, they may have vastly different recovery times for their respective whiplash injuries.

Directional Forces

Directional Forces

The direction of impact, whether you’re involved in a rear shunt accident, a head-on collision, or side collision, will have an effect on the type and severity of your injuries.

Headrest position

Headrest position

An improperly adjusted headrest can significantly increase the chances of suffering a severe whiplash injury. This is why it’s important to ensure that your headrest is set at the right height and your seat is at an appropriate angle.

Accelerating forces

Accelerating forces

If the striking vehicle is larger than the vehicle being struck, a lot of force will be transferred to the smaller vehicle. This is likely to cause more severe injury. But even if the cars are the same size and travelling at slow speeds – say, 8 miles per hour – a collision can still produce a 5-G accelerating force of the driver's head.

Thompsons Solicitors and the Whiplash Information Centre

Thompsons Solicitors, the leading personal injury firm in Scotland, has a dedicated Whiplash Information Centre to provide you with a first point of contact for advice and information regarding whiplash; including issues around rehabilitation and likely sums of compensation. More information can be found here.

To speak directly with our no win, no fee lawyers, call today on 0800 0891 331 and we will investigate matters for you and advise you on your first step towards ensuring your full legal rights.

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