These are among the most common type of injuries to be caused following road traffic accidents.
When a vehicle is struck from behind, the body is knocked forward by the seat, while the head is forced back into ‘hyper-extension’. This is followed, in short succession, by a snap forward into ‘hyper-flexion’. Taken together, these movements give rise to the classic whiplash injury.
If the head is turned at the moment of the collision, the damage may be more extensive.
Similar injuries can be caused by front and side impacts, where the neck is rotated beyond its normal reach.
It is not unusual to for neck pain to develop until a few days after the accident, even if no immediate symptoms were apparent.
Early medical advice should always be sought and, if a treatment regime is recommended, this will very often be beneficial in reducing the duration and severity of the condition.
Fractures (Broken Bones)
Types of fracture
- Simple – where the soft tissues are not broken
- Comminuted – where the bone is broken into several fragments
- Complicated – where there is also injury to nearby organs or tissues
- Compound – where the skin is broken over the fracture and there may be infection
- Greenstick – where a child’s bone bends and breaks on one side only rather than fully
Nature of the fracture
The break may be:
- Transverse – extending across
- Oblique – slanting away from the anatomical planes of the body
- Spiral – a fracture that has a helical or spiral form
- Fracture dislocation – a fracture across a joint which affects the joint surfaces
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
This is a specific stress-related anxiety disorder which can be a serious consequence of being involved in a traumatic accident.
The condition is described as having the following characteristics:
- Had recurrent and intrusive recollections, nightmares or flashbacks of the event;
- Persistent avoidance of things associated with the trauma, such as inability to recall an important aspect of the incident, avoiding activities that recall the trauma, feeling detached or estranged from others;
- Persistent symptoms such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating;
- Duration of the disturbance is more than one month;
- The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Other anxiety disorders
Other, less serious, anxiety disorders can sometimes occur as psychological response to being involved in a shocking accident. These can be assessed by a medical doctor and your first point of contact in this case should be your GP.
The general distress, anxiety and upset felt by many accident victims is excluded from compensation if it is not identified as a psychological condition caused by the accident.