Whiplash Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Whiplash, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Whiplash?

(n) When a moving person is suddenly stopped or hit from behind the sudden change in momentum of the person will cause immediate forward movement followed by a backward retaliation. The upper part of the sitting person will be snapped forward and backward (if not fallen forward by then) causing injury to head, neck or back. Such injury is termed as whiplash

History and Definition of Whiplash

Whiplash is a term used to describe a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head, such as a car accident. The term "whiplash" was first coined in 1928, although the injury has been described for centuries. The injury is caused when a sudden impact causes the head to jerk forward and then snap back, leading to strains or sprains in the neck muscles and ligaments.

Examples of Whiplash

  1. A driver is rear-ended by another car while sitting at a stoplight, causing the driver's head to snap forward and then back, resulting in whiplash injuries.

  2. An athlete suffers whiplash during a football game after being tackled from behind and his head snaps backward.

  3. A pedestrian is hit by a bicyclist and suffers whiplash injuries due to the sudden impact.

Legal Terms Similar to Whiplash

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries - Another term used to describe injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons that do not involve broken bones or other serious injuries.

  2. Personal Injury - A legal term that encompasses a wide range of injuries, including whiplash, and refers to any harm caused by the negligence or intentional act of another person.

  3. Tort Law - The branch of law that holds individuals or organizations responsible for harm caused to others, including injuries like whiplash.