When you are involved in a car accident – even what may appear to be a relatively minor bumper bashing – there is a strong chance that you may have sustained whiplash and can lodge a claim with the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
Whiplash is a neck injury (to the cervical vertebrae) resulting from the head abruptly jerking forward or backward. It is usually caused by rapid acceleration or deceleration, as in the case of an automobile accident.
Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, back and shoulder pain, headaches, dizziness and blurred vision. There are also sometimes psychological consequences such as lapses in concentration, memory loss, insomnia and depression.
In many cases the pain will subside in time, but medical treatment should still be sought to avoid the possibility of chronic long-term damage to the spine that could come back to haunt the accident victim in the future.
The presence of whiplash can form an integral part of a claim against the RAF. Recently, de Broglio Inc secured noteworthy out-of-court settlements from the Fund for two clients who sustained whiplash-related injuries in car accidents.
The first was a R450 000 award for Margaret Kleynhans*. On 22 March 2006, on the R21 West and R24 highway split in Johannesburg, Margaret was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck from behind while changing lanes.
She sustained a whiplash injury to her cervical spine, and the accident also resulted in Margaret having anxiety and panic attacks.
Being a sales representative by profession, she was eventually compelled to resign from her job as a result of her injury. However, de Broglio’s doctors have assured her that once she has had the necessary treatment, she will be able to take up a sedentary position.
The RAF and de Broglio Attorneys settled the matter out of court for R450 000.
Another matter involved Nadine Alberts*, who bore the brunt of a “domino effect” accident at the intersection of Oxford and Bolton roads in Rosebank on 2 June 2006. Her car was struck from behind by another vehicle, which was in turn hit from the rear by yet another vehicle.
The impact caused Nadine to sustain a whiplash injury to her neck and back. At the time of the accident, she was working and studying, and has since qualified as a chartered accountant.
Her lawyers at de Broglio argued that she would suffer a slight loss of productivity in future – and, by extension, a loss of earning capacity – as a result of the accident’s ongoing after-effects. They settled out of court with the RAF for R250 000.
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality