Understanding Whiplash in Nova Scotia Car Accidents
No matter how severe a car accident may seem at first, suffering whiplash and whiplash associated disorders (WAD) can quickly escalate what appears at first to be a minor incident into a serious medical emergency. “Whiplash” is the common term for an injury resulting from an abrupt back-and-forth flexing of the neck.
This can cause very painful and disruptive symptoms that can greatly affect your quality of life, your ability to provide an income for yourself and your family, and even lead to depression and social isolation in the most extreme cases. No one should ever have to live with this kind of pain and suffering—especially when it is caused directly by someone else’s actions.
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by another person’s negligent or distracted driving and have suffered whiplash or whiplash associated disorders, you have the legal right to make a claim for compensation. No matter how minor your injuries may appear to be, if you were not at fault the simple fact of being injured entitles you to recover damages from the responsible party.
At McKiggan Hebert, our team of personal injury lawyers have decades of experience in helping people who have been injured through no fault of their own—including those pertaining to whiplash associated disorders—and have fought on behalf of our clients to receive the compensation that they deserve.
What is Whiplash and Whiplash Associated Disorders?
Whiplash is a common type of injury that results from “an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck,” typical of being involved in a rear-end or side-impact car accident.
Whiplash associated disorders, on the other hand, is the term used to define a collection of symptoms affecting the neck as a result of whiplash.
While whiplash is a relatively common injury, some may people may choose not to get medical treatment if their immediate symptoms do not seem “serious enough,” or if they simply cannot afford to take time off of work to visit the doctor. Unfortunately, this can lead to long term problems including chronic pain. In fact, nearly half of whiplash victims report still struggling with symptoms of whiplash associated disorders two years after being injured!
Because of this, it is critical to be evaluated by a doctor as soon after an accident takes place as possible.
How are Whiplash Associated Disorders Classified?
Whiplash Associated Disorders are typically given “grades” based on their severity. Known as The Quebec Classification of Whiplash Associated Disorders, these grades are assigned based on the presence and/or severity of pain, musculoskeletal injury, neurological injury or fracture and dislocation. The grades assigned to whiplash associated disorders are as follows:
- Grade 0: No complaints about the neck; no physical signs.
- Grade 1: Neck complaints of pain, stiffness or tenderness only; no physical signs.
- Grade 2: Neck complaint AND musculoskeletal signs (decreased range of motion and point tenderness).
- Grade 3: Neck complaint AND neurological signs (decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits).
- Grade 4: Neck complaint AND fracture or dislocation.
There are a number of symptoms that can appear across all grades of whiplash associated disorders, including deafness, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headache, memory loss, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and temporomandibular joint pain.
Is My Whiplash Claim Capped in Nova Scotia?
The short answer: Sometimes.
Nova Scotia has legislation that places a cap on the amount of compensation you can receive for “pain and suffering” if you have certain categories of whiplash injury.
Under the Nova Scotia Insurance Act, a “minor injury” is defined as “a sprain, strain or whiplash associated disorder, category 1 or 2.” Whiplash claims are graded following the Quebec Classification, and insurance providers will generally follow medical documentation when determining if a whiplash associated disorder is “minor” or “major.”
In cases where whiplash associated disorders are classified as grade 0-2, your claim for pain and suffering will be capped at the 2018 “minor injury” threshold of $8,579. Keep in mind that the cap doesn’t apply to lost income, out of pocket expenses, loss of housekeeping capacity and many other heads of damages or types of compensation.
If your whiplash associated disorder is classified as grade 3-4, then the pain and suffering damages you are eligible to claim are NOT capped.
Likewise, if you’ve suffered any grade of whiplash associated disorder that results in serious impairment or inability to perform your job properly (such as a truck driver being unable to drive), then your recoverable compensation will also NOT be capped.
Taking Action Matters
Understanding how whiplash associated disorders are viewed and categorized by insurers can be a confusing endeavor to navigate, even for some inexperienced lawyers. Fortunately, retaining an experienced whiplash lawyer early in the process can help you avoid these pitfalls.
Whether or not your whiplash or whiplash associated disorders are “severe” by the Quebec Classification, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon after an accident as possible. Documenting all of your medical expenses related to your whiplash associated disorder—from initial medical expenses to ongoing medical care—is recommended in case any of these costs are reimbursable to you as part of your compensation.
If, for whatever reason, your whiplash associated disorder gets worse, proper medical documentation is usually required in order to classify (or re-classify) your injury to recover the compensation you are properly entitled to receive. More importantly, proper medical proof prevents insurance companies from accusing you of “faking it.”
Filing a claim against the party responsible for your injury as soon as possible is the most important step to take; the sooner you file, the sooner you can be compensated.
Want More Information?
We have been representing victims of serious personal injuries for almost 30 years.
We wrote Crash Course: The Consumers Guide to Car Accident Claims in Nova Scotia to help educate car accident victims and their families about their legal rights.
The book is a “crash course” in everything you need to know about car accident claims.
Experienced Whiplash Claim Lawyers of Nova Scotia
With a proven record of success and an extensive knowledge of Nova Scotia law, McKiggan Hebert is fully committed to fighting for you and your loved ones to recover compensation for your injuries—no matter how minor they may be.
Whether your injuries are minor or major in nature, if you were injured through the fault of another, you deserve compensation for the inconvenience and pain and suffering that may result from the other person’s negligence.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident and sustained whiplash or a whiplash associated disorder as a result, contact us today to discuss your case and how to best proceed with recovering the compensation you deserve.