How long does it take to recover from a whiplash injury? I recently suffered whiplash in a road traffic accident, and although I have received treatment, my injury is still troubling me six weeks later. I am in the early stages of initiating a claim for compensation against the driver responsible for my injury, however my condition does not seem to be improving and I am worried that this may adversely affect my claim for compensation.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

How long does it take to recover from a whiplash injury? It is impossible to tell how long it may take to fully recover from a whiplash injury without knowing more about the extent of the injury and the symptoms that accompany it. Whiplash, which happens when the head is jerked back and forward suddenly, causing strain to the muscles in the neck and shoulders, can vary in degrees and seriousness, and should always be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible after it is sustained.

Even if you have visited a doctor – which is likely given that it has been six weeks after the injury has been sustained – you should make another appointment. It may be the case that your injury is worse thought, or that you may have exacerbated it since it was sustained – if this is the case, it may have an impact on your entitlement to claim for compensation.

You should be aware that asking “How long does it take to recover from a whiplash injury?” may mean that you have passed the point at which most cases of whiplash have subsided. Most whiplash cases take only a few weeks to recover from, however some can persist longer. Between 15% and 20% of sufferers develop other problems such as back pain, sleeping disorders, fatigue, blurred vision and ringing in the ears – in some cases depression and other emotional disorders have been linked to whiplash.

Seventy percent of whiplash sufferers recover from their condition within a year, while 82% recover within two years. Determining why a whiplash injury lasts longer than a couple of weeks is difficult, although some studies have been carried out. Although it can only determine if pain originates in discs or in facet joints, a facet injection is among the most accurate ways of detecting where pain from whiplash originates – a process that may lead to a more effective treatment being undertaken.

Without knowing more about your injury and its symptoms, it is difficult to say when the pain will end. If the pain continues, you should schedule appointments to see your doctor and your personal injury solicitor. Asking your solicitor the question “How long does it take to recover from a whiplash injury?” and explaining to him your doctor’s assessment of your injury may allow you to find out if you can claim more compensation due to the greater than first projected extent of your injury, or whether it is possible that you may be found to have contributed to the extent of your injury by exacerbating it.