Understanding Whiplash in Nova Scotia Car Accidents

by John McKiggan

No matter how severe a car accident may seem in the initial follow-up moments, suffering from 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 type of neck pain can vary tremendously individually, but in some severe cases the symptoms of whiplash can include things like harsh back pain, neck sprains, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, concussions, neck stiffness, chronic pain and much more.

These very painful and disruptive symptoms can greatly affect a car accident or sports injury victim’s quality of life, overall ability to provide an income for one’s self and family, and can even lead to emotional injuries like depression and social isolation in some extreme cases. No one should ever have to live with this kind of pain and suffering that can result from a whiplash injury — especially when the injury is caused directly by someone else’s negligent actions.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by another person’s negligent or distracted driving and have suffered whiplash or whiplash-associated disorders, you will undoubtedly have the legal right to make a claim for your rightful 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 has 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.

A serious neck injury will always require magnetic resonance imaging, extensive physical therapy and pain medications while an accident victim works to regain the soft tissue’s range of motion. You for injury’s associated damages, both economic and non-economic, should always be covered by the individual that created them in the first place.

Contact us today for a free consultation so we can go over the details of your accident and help you devise the very best legal strategy towards obtaining everything you’re owed!

What is Whiplash and What are 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 is the term used to define a collection of symptoms of whiplash that are the result of serious neck pain.

While whiplash is a relatively common injury, some people may choose not to go about receiving proper medical treatment if their immediate symptoms do not seem “serious enough”. There are also countless instances in which victims of whiplash-associated disorders simply cannot afford to take time off of work to visit the doctor, or are reluctant to be informed of the unfortunate health information that will undoubtedly force them to stop working.

What’s so devastating about this type of reluctance to receive proper medical treatment after undergoing a whiplash injury is that accident victims will unwisely attempt to use over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen to treat serious injuries that technically require professional technology like x-rays, ct scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to properly diagnose and ultimately treat. Avoiding proper medical attention can then subsequently lead to long-term physical problems including chronic pain, sleep disturbances, cervical spine damage and other rather serious conditions. 

In fact, nearly half of whiplash injury victims report that they’re still struggling with symptoms of whiplash-associated disorders over two years after being injured!

Because of this, it’s always absolutely imperative for car accident and sports injury victims to obtain professional evaluations by a medical team as soon as possible after an accident takes place.

How are Whiplash-Associated Disorders Classified?

Whiplash-Associated Disorders are typically given “grades” based upon their overall 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, as well as no physical signs of serious injury.
  • Grade 1: Complaints of neck pain, stiffness or tenderness only, but no blatant physical signs of whiplash injury.
  • Grade 2: Neck complaint AND musculoskeletal signs of injury, which can also include any decreased range of motion and points of 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 the following: 

  • Deafness
  • Dizziness 
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) 
  • Headache 
  • Memory loss 
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) 
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Is My Whiplash Claim Capped in Nova Scotia?

The short answer would be 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, which can subsequently make a medical expert’s testimony imperative to validating the severity of your injury.

Likewise, if you’ve suffered any grade of whiplash-associated disorder that results in serious impairment or an 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 legal teams. Fortunately, retaining an experienced whiplash injury lawyer early in the process can help you avoid these pitfalls and ultimately begin devising a successful legal strategy as quickly as possible. 

Whether or not your whiplash or whiplash-associated disorders are “severe” by the Quebec Classification, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as you can after an accident occurs. 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 rightful compensation.

If for whatever reason your whiplash-associated disorder gets worse with time, proper medical documentation is usually required in order to classify (or re-classify) your injury to recover the compensation you are properly entitled to obtain. 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.

The book is for sale on Amazon, but you can get a free copy of the book by contacting us, or by calling us toll-free at 1 (888) 510-3577.

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.

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