Any trauma to your neck area, including the region from the top of your spine down to your back, and all of the surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons, is classified as a neck injury. This includes minor strains and sprains, whiplash and more severe injuries.
One of the most common causes of neck injuries is motor vehicle collisions. When you’re involved in a road accident while wearing a seatbelt, your head may be thrown back and forth, potentially causing injury to the neck muscles and the cervical vertebrae.
Common types of neck injuries due to motor vehicle accidents include whiplash and more severe neck and spinal injuries, including neck fractures and paralysis.
Claiming for a neck injury
If you sustain a neck injury in an accident that was at least partly another person’s fault or as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to claim damages from the person responsible.
If you sustained your neck injury in a car or motorbike accident, you may be eligible to claim from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) – a public entity that provides compensation to those injured on South African roads. For the best chance of a successful claim against the RAF, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney.
What to do first: get medical attention
If you’re considering a claim against another individual or the RAF, it’s vital that you seek medical attention as soon after your injury as possible.
The neck is a sensitive area, containing the part of the spinal cord that connects to the base of the brain. Even with a neck injury that seems minor, it’s best not to take any chances. Swelling that occurs after the injury could cause serious complications.
Medical evaluation is also important for the purpose of making a successful personal injury claim. To support a claim, you’ll need a professional opinion on the severity and long-term effects of your injury, and on medical treatment or therapy you’ll need in the future.
Generally, the more serious the injury and the greater its long-lasting effects, the more you can claim. “Hard” injuries, like bone fractures, usually result in larger settlements than soft tissue injuries, such as pinched nerves or muscle pain.
Gathering supporting information
It’s important to gather evidence of the injury you sustained and the surrounding conditions. If possible, get contact details of witnesses who can verify how the accident occurred.
Also, record the details of the party you believe is responsible for the incident and collect all relevant medical records, including your medical bills.
How to claim for a neck injury
The biggest determining factors in a personal injury case are the extent of the injury and how likely a court is to find the defendant liable for these damages.
If you’re planning to claim compensation from the person responsible for your neck injury, you should consult an attorney with experience in personal injury cases. Claiming for a neck injury can be complex, and obtaining the assistance of an experienced attorney will give you the best chance of a successful claim.
An attorney can help gather and evaluate all relevant information regarding your accident and resulting neck injury, analyse your medical records and determine how best to proceed, filing required documentation, suing for a settlement and, if relevant, presenting your case to the courts.