Inter Law – car accident whiplash

According to figures released by insurers Crystal Claims, 70 per cent of compensation claims following a road accident are for whiplash-related injuries. You-claim’s more in-depth figures show that 43 per cent of the more serious incidents that required hospital treatments were for rear-end accidents. 32 per cent were for head-on collisions, while the rest are due to side-on accidents or other sources.

It is not surprising that rear-end accidents are the highest cause of whiplash, due to the nature of the injury being caused by a rapid change of speed, which in a rear-end accident would force the head forwards a high velocity. What is surprising is that head-on collisions account for only 10 per cent fewer cases of severe whip-lash despite having the protection of the head restraint to support the head backwards. This means that a head restraint is only 10 per cent more effective, based on these statistics than without.

Research from Thatcham suggests that this isn’t due to poor design or lack of effectiveness on behalf on the restraint, but poor positioning by motorists. They believe that 60 per cent of drivers have their head-restraints in the wrong position, significantly increasing the risk of injury.

Matthew Avery of Thatcham said: “These figures are shocking; more than 125,000 whiplash injuries could be prevented in this country each year if people took a little time out to save their necks.”

Thatcham believe that it can be difficult to get the perfect height for a head restraint because of the varying differences to people’s height. It is always best to check the manual that came with your vehicle to check the correct height for the seat and head restraint. Sitting too close for example, could increase the whiplash risk in the event of airbag deployment.

Saab and Volvo have developed a solution with active head restraints and Volvo’s patented WHIPS, Whiplash Protection System. These automatically adjust to suit the driver in the event of an impact and have been proven to reduce whiplash injuries by 51 per cent.

Drivers should also remain aware at all times, particularly in heavy traffic at low speeds. They should always check their mirrors and avoid sudden, sharp breaking that cuts other drivers time to react and increases the risk of collision. No device exists that eliminates whiplash, but the use of such safety features, in addition to an alert driving style, significantly reduces the risk.

Whiplash is still a very debilitating form of injury and can lead to serious loss of earnings due to time of work. It often requires at least months of therapy, which can run into years if it is a serious incident. Claiming compensation in this instance is vital if the incident was not your fault because suffering in silence will do little to help lower these statistics.

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