If you have suffered a whiplash injury from an accident that wasn’t your fault, you could claim whiplash compensation for pain and suffering, medical treatment, and other costs incurred for example having time off work.
Often, people think of whiplash as a minor injury. It can, however, have long-lasting and painful effects on a person’s life. In the most severe cases, symptoms of whiplash and damage caused by whiplash can be permanent. Whiplash is the most common injury in terms of car accident injuries and as much as half of the accidents that occur result in an injury of whiplash.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is the result of a sudden stretching or jolt of a person’s neck that results in ligament damage. It is a very common injury for car passengers and drivers that have been involved in a shunt from the rear. It doesn’t even have to be a huge force for whiplash to occur. A lot of whiplash injuries happen in road accident’s at low speed – even as low as 5 or 10 miles per hour. How severe the whiplash depends on how well-positioned your seat headrests are and how well you are restrained (i.e. if you’re wearing your seatbelt correctly). As well as collisions in a motor vehicle, it is also possible to get whiplash injuries from falling, slipping or tripping.
When involved in a rear-end collision, the impact causes your head to move forwards and backward very suddenly, resulting in a sprain. Whiplash symptoms include headaches and dizziness as well as pain and swelling. All of these symptoms can affect you in your daily life. Most of the time, whiplash is very painful and limits a person’s mobility. It often means that people have to be off work and can’t drive while they are recovering.
Older people or those who already have problems with their neck are much more likely to suffer from whiplash from an RTA. The reason older people are more affected is that ligaments and muscles lose strength and flexibility as we age and are more prone to damage.
The ABI (Association of British Insurers) states that each day in the United Kingdom, there are in excess of 1,500 compensation claims made for whiplash injuries. Over the course of a year, this means that there are 550,000 claims. The majority of these happen as a result of a road traffic collision.
Who can make a whiplash injury claim?
If the neck experiences a sudden jolt because of somebody else’s carelessness/negligence, there is always the potential for a whiplash injury claim.
You can claim for compensation within three years of the injury occurring. It is also possible to claim on behalf of children who were under 18 when the accident occurred. Once a person who was injured turns 18, they have a three-year limit to make a whiplash compensation claim for themselves.
Whiplash claims caused by a road accident
Clearly, no one should be injured because of someone else – whether that’s because they were driving dangerously or because they were being negligent. If you were however injured because of somebody else’s negligence you could claim whiplash compensation as a passenger or a driver but you could also claim if you were on public transport or if you were a pedestrian or a cyclist.
Claiming whiplash compensation as a passenger
If you have a whiplash injury from being a passenger in a road traffic collision, it’s just as important that you claim whiplash compensation. You don’t need to worry about the offending driver being out of pocket as the compensation will be paid out by their insurance company and not by them personally.
How much does it cost to claim for whiplash?
There are many solicitors that will deal with whiplash injury claims on a no win no fee basis. This means that you won’t pay anything for your claim if you are unsuccessful. When you make a whiplash claim on a no win no fee basis, there are usually no upfront costs. If a claim is successful, the solicitor will deduct their fees from your award of damages. You should agree on a percentage before you pursue the claim.
How much compensation is awarded for whiplash injury claims?
As RTA claims are unique so is every whiplash injury claim and therefore compensation depends on your unique circumstances. There are many websites that have compensation calculators to give you a rough idea of the amount you could receive but it really does depend on so many factors that it is very hard to say upfront. However, the average amount of compensation for whiplash in the UK from an RTA is around £1,000 to £3,000.
The solicitor working on your case will have to take lots of things into consideration when building up your own claim to be as accurate as possible. The solicitor will factor in your suffering and pain as well as other factors such as:
- Medical expenses incurred – this includes prescription costs and private treatments
- Earnings lost as a result of the whiplash injury
- Accommodation and travel costs
- Care – even in situations where this has not been payable because a family member or friend has provided the care
- Loss of hobbies (or limitations to hobbies) as well as social activities and sports
- The impact of your injuries on your future
There are guidelines published by the Ministry of Justice’s Judicial College that outline amounts for whiplash as well as other claims for personal injury. The amounts awarded depend on recovery time and there are greater amounts for permanent damage like spondylosis or permanent pain.
Whiplash injuries abroad
If you are abroad when you suffer from a whiplash injury then you may have different time limits to follow. It might be possible to claim compensation under the UK laws but it does depend on where you were and what happened. You should seek advice from an appropriate whiplash claims solicitor.
Whiplash compensation claims FAQ’s
What happens if the third party doesn’t have insurance or drove away from the scene?
These situations are undoubtedly more complicated but there exists a system to help victims in this scenario. If you are in this situation and have a whiplash injury from a road traffic accident, your solicitor can take the compensation claim to the MIB (Motor Insurers’ Bureau). Here, they assess and deal with injury claims when the other driver can’t be traced or wasn’t insured. So, even if you were unfortunate to have a hit and run experience, you could still claim whiplash compensation
What is ‘knock for knock’ and ‘split liability’?
These terms are often confused but they mean different things.
For an agreement of ‘split liability’, both parties accept the blame for the accident 50-50. In terms of compensation, it means that you will be paid 50% of the value of your whiplash claim from the other person’s insurers. For a claim that is valued at £8000, for example, you will be awarded £4000.
‘Knock for knock’ agreements, on the other hand, mean that each person gets their compensation from their own insurance company. This usually happens when liability isn’t agreed upon.
What are some typical whiplash symptoms?
Pain in the neck and stiffness in the neck are the most common whiplash symptoms. Other whiplash symptoms include headaches, aching, swelling, inflammation, shoulder or arm pain, back pain, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, and fatigue.
You should contact your GP as soon as possible after an RTA. Your GP will be able to check your injuries and help relieve your symptoms. Whiplash doesn’t always show immediately and can appear after some time has passed since the accident.