Whiplash: what kind of compensation are you entitled to?

As per this recent example, awards for whiplash injuries can be very high:

http://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcsc/doc/2016/2016bcsc1122/2016bcsc1122.pdf

The plaintiff in this action was awarded over $500,000. She retained a very knowledgeable expert in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. Heather Finlayson. Dr. Finlayson, in her medical report, stated that whiplash injuries involve “rapid movements of the head and neck forwards and backwards and/or side-to-side and can cause “high-velocity stretch of muscles and their attachments, such that the muscles go into painful spasm“. Whiplash type injuries can lead to various chronic injuries – in this case, myofascial pain syndrome.

What this case illustrates is that, when assessing damages, it is not necessarily the mechanism of the injury that is important but the effect on the injured party. In other words, no two whiplash cases are the same and every case must be assessed on its individual merits. For example, two people involved in the same accident might both suffer whiplash-type injuries. One person may heal very quickly and the injury may have relatively little impact on their lives. As a result, the award for their damages is likely to be relatively low. Another person might suffer far more long term and disabling injuries, resulting in severe limitations to their professional and personal lives. They would likely be entitled to a relatively high award.

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