What Are Whiplash Injuries?

People can sustain a range of injuries in car accidents, depending on the circumstances of the collision. But even collisions of moderate severity can cause people to sustain injuries that have adverse, long-lasting physical, psychological, and cognitive effects. Although these injuries are considered “minor,” their symptoms and impacts can yield major disruptions to a car accident survivor’s life.

Whiplash-associated disorders are common outcomes of car accidents. They can occur when the force of impact causes a driver or passenger’s head to involuntarily propel in one direction before being wrenched back in the other direction. This involuntary jolt can damage a car accident survivor’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues in the neck.

Muscles and connective tissues are made up of individual fibers. If these fibers become torn, stretched, or inflamed as a result of a car accident, people suffering from whiplash could experience prolonged pain and discomfort, as well as a variety of other impactful symptoms.

Some whiplash-associated disorders can resolve themselves in a matter of days with rest, ice, compression, elevation, and over-the-counter pain medication. However, car accident victims who have sustained severe soft tissue injuries may feel their effects for weeks, or even months. Some car accident survivors suffering from whiplash may require ongoing courses of physiotherapy and other rehabilitative treatments for several years following their collision.

People who suffer from whiplash frequently feel the effects of their injuries in all areas of life. Recovering from these injuries can be expensive. Car accident survivors may be required to make financial adjustments in order to afford essential costs of treatment and pain management. However, Albertans who have sustained whiplash as the result of a motor vehicle collision may be entitled to compensation.

What Compensation is Available?

In Alberta, all injured survivors of motor vehicle accidents should be entitled to Section B benefits. This mandatory insurance coverage is made available to help people afford the costs associated with their accident-related injuries.

Even people who have sustained “minor injuries” can be entitled to Section B benefits. If someone who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident would like to receive treatment for the whiplash-associated disorder they sustained in their collision or other resulting soft tissue injuries, the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation applies.

Individuals suffering from whiplash caused by a motor vehicle collision may be eligible to receive funding for up to either 10 or 21 treatment sessions, depending on the severity of their injuries. These treatment sessions must be completed within 90 days of the accident.

In addition to the physical symptoms of whiplash, many people experience adverse psychological effects after living through a traumatizing event like a motor vehicle collision. That is why accident survivors may be entitled to non-pecuniary damages in addition to the compensation they receive to address the costs of their physical injuries.

Non-pecuniary damages cannot be easily quantified or assigned a dollar amount as they relate to intangible concepts, such as pain and suffering. While car accident survivors may be entitled to these damages after being injured in a collision, depending on the severity of their injuries, the total amount available may be subject to a payment cap. This payment cap is legislated by the provincial government’s Minor Injury Regulation (MIR).

In accordance with the MIR, the term “minor injuries” refers to a number of soft tissue injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents that do not lead to serious impairment. These injuries include whiplash-associated disorders. In 2023, the maximum amount of non-pecuniary damages available to motor vehicle accident survivors who sustained minor injuries – including whiplash – is $5,817.00.

Common Symptoms of Whiplash

Even though whiplash-associated disorders are considered “minor injuries,” the symptoms of these soft tissue injuries can be painful and long-lasting. On top of physical pain and discomfort, whiplash can cause car accident survivors to experience symptoms that are also cognitive and behavioural.

Symptoms of whiplash commonly include:

  • Pain, numbness, or tingling in arms, hands, legs, and feet
  • Stiffness in the back and neck
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Vertigo
  • Jaw pains
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • And more

Additionally, the psychological impacts of whiplash can be profound. According to research made available by the National Library of Medicine, many people who have sustained a whiplash-associated disorder develop depression that persists for at least several weeks following their injury.

Furthermore, on top of all the physical, cognitive, behavioural, and psychological impacts of whiplash, many car accident survivors incur substantial financial losses as a result of their soft tissue injuries. If the physical pain, discomfort, immobility, or mental health issues resulting from their whiplash-associated disorder makes it impossible to continue carrying out the duties of their jobs, injured car accident survivors may be required to miss long stretches of work, losing wages in the process. People suffering from whiplash may also require physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, psychological counseling, and other expensive costs of medical care.

How an Alberta Car Accident Lawyer May Be Able to Help

Since whiplash is considered to be a “minor injury,” insurance providers often make it difficult for people suffering from soft tissue injuries to get the compensation they deserve. After submitting an insurance claim for costs associated with whiplash-associated disorders, many injured claimants receive unfair denials from their insurer.

Our Alberta car accident lawyers have experience fighting back against the unfair tactics used by insurance companies to withhold payments from deserving claimants. By representing your best interests in the aftermath of a collision in which you sustained whiplash, our car accident lawyers serving Alberta may be able to help you get the insurance coverage you deserve.

Additionally, if your collision was the result of someone else’s negligence, our Alberta car accident lawyers may be able to assist you by pursuing a civil claim against the at-fault driver. By doing so, our car accident lawyers serving Alberta may be able to provide you with crucial assistance on your path to justice and fair compensation.

Whiplash-associated disorders can have profound impacts on the lives of motor vehicle accident survivors. But our Alberta car accident lawyers are here to try and mitigate the negative effects of these accident-related injuries. To learn more about working with our Alberta car accident lawyers, contact us today and schedule a free initial consultation.