Go to Top

Whiplash symptoms

What is a whiplash?

Whiplash is an injury to the neck, which damages the ligaments and tendons in the neck. It is usually suffered by a sudden movement of a head such as during a car accident when someone hits your car from behind, blow to the head during contact sports or a fall from a bicycle or a horse. An accident does not have to be serious to cause a whiplash and there are different degrees of severity of the injury.

Categories of whiplash

  • Acute whiplash occurs when there is a sudden hyperextension of a neck causing the symptoms such as pain
  • Chronic whiplash (or long-term whiplash) is where a condition lasts longer than six months and the symptoms do not cease after a couple of days

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Swelling of a neck
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity along the back or side of the neck
  • Reduced movement in the neck
  • Loss of movement in the neck
  • Dizziness

Some people also experience:

  • Lower back pain
    • Pain, numbness or paraesthesia (pins and needles) in the arms and hands
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Blurred vision
  • Vertigo – the sensation that you are moving or spinning while standing   still
    •  Tinnitus – the perception of noise in one ear, both ears or inside the head
    •  Anxiety and depression or other psychological symptoms

Some symptoms occur immediately or within a couple of hours from the time of the accident or it may take some time (up to 12 hours) for symptoms to develop. It is quite common for neck stiffness or other signs of injury to appear or worsen the day after the accident has occurred.


It is best not to ignore whiplash symptoms, especially if the symptoms persist, and seek medical help immediately or as soon as possible after the incident. Treatment of whiplash is usually minimal and depends on the degree or severity of the injury. Medical experts seem to be in agreement that neck exercises rather than immobilizing the neck bring better results in treating whiplash.

Compensation claim

If the accident causing your whiplash was not your fault you can make a compensation claim against whoever was responsible for it. There are different claims depending on the cause of your whiplash. If the injury is a result of someone hitting your car from behind you can make a road traffic accident compensation claim against the responsible driver’s insurance company, if it occurred because you fell on uneven pavement, the responsible party is the local council who maintains roads and public footpaths.

The process

Whatever the type of claim is, the process is very similar. You need to make sure to note as many details of the incident causing whiplash as possible when the events are still fresh in your memory. It is advisable to contact a solicitor in order to make a claim as their experience and knowledge of this area of law may prove very beneficial and it can make the process as stress-free for you as possible. To start a claim you need to fill out a claim form. You can make a Road Traffic Accident Compensation Claim by sending a letter to the responsible party’s insurance company. They can either accept or dispute your claim. It is best to negotiate with the company directly however if there is no way an agreement can be reached you might have to take your claim to court if you and your solicitor feel you have a strong case.

Call us for free: 0800 015 5500