If you’ve sustained whiplash in a car crash or another type of RTA that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to compensation. In this guide to making a whiplash compensation claim, we’ll look at the types of accidents that can cause whiplash injuries and how the claims process works since new laws came into force relating to low-value whiplash claims.
Our team is here to help if you would like to discuss a whiplash claim. During a free telephone consultation, your claim will be reviewed and you’ll receive legal advice about your options. You’re not obliged to continue but if your claim is strong enough, we could pass it to one of our personal injury lawyers. They’ll represent you on a No Win, No Fee basis if they agree to work for you. That means the claims process will be less stressful as you’ll know from the start that you won’t have to pay any solicitors fees unless you receive compensation.
Would you like to talk to us about whiplash claims right away? If so, please call our advisors on 0800 652 1345. Alternatively, to learn more about when you could be compensated, please continue reading.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury that can result from car accidents, slips, trips and falls, sporting incidents and many other types of accidents. It occurs when the head is jolted forward and then back again (or vice versa) with force. As a result of the sudden movement, the discs, muscles, tendons and nerves in the neck can all be damaged. Whiplash injuries can happen in relatively low-speed (5 to 10mph) collisions, as well as high-speed crashes.
According to the NHS, it usually takes around 2-3 months to fully recover from whiplash. While some injuries can be managed with painkillers, others may require physiotherapy or psychological support to help the victim deal with their symptoms. Long-term or permanent problems can arise from whiplash injuries in rarer cases.
The main symptoms of whiplash are:
- Neck pain.
- Difficulty moving your head.
- Stiffness of the neck.
- Pain and headaches.
- Spasms in the muscles in your arms or shoulders.
The NHS website explains that these symptoms might not be immediately obvious and you might not notice them for several hours.
More urgent symptoms of whiplash include:
- Severe pain (even after taking painkillers).
- Difficulty sitting or walking.
- Electric shock type feelings in the back, neck, arms and legs.
- Weakness in the arms or legs.
- Pins and needles in either one or both sides of your body.
These symptoms may mean that you’ve suffered nerve damage which will require treatment.
Can I claim compensation if I’ve suffered whiplash?
To make a personal injury claim for whiplash following a road traffic accident, you’ll need to show that:
- Another road user was negligent meaning they breached their duty of care (as established by the Road Traffic Act 1988); and
- Their negligence led to an accident; and
- You suffered whiplash in that accident.
If all three points above are true, you may be able to sue the other driver. Usually, your claim will be made against their motor insurance policy. However, you could claim through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) if the defendant was uninsured (we can also help with MIB claims).
Later on, we’ll look at what proof you can use to support your claim. Before we do, we’ll look at the new laws that govern how lower value whiplash claims are handled.
Law changes for whiplash compensation claims
On 31st May 2021, the government introduced new laws relating to how some claims for whiplash are dealt with. As part of these reforms, the government has set a tariff that links the duration of your injury to the amount of compensation you can claim for. The idea is to prevent fraudulent whiplash claims, reduced exaggerated claims and, as a result, lower motor insurance premiums.
The new laws mean that:
- Soft tissue injuries and whiplash claims now have a fixed amount of compensation based on the severity of the injury. The amount is lower than it was previously.
- If the value of the claim is less than £5,000, the claimant can no longer recover their legal fees from the defendant.
- Some other minor injuries from road traffic accidents (such as cuts, bruises and minor fractures) are covered by these new laws.
- Claimants can use an online portal to manage low-value whiplash claims themselves without the need for legal representation.
As a result of these new laws, it isn’t cost-effective for personal injury solicitors to take on some whiplash claims. However, it can be quite tricky to properly value your claim yourself. For that reason, we would suggest that you contact our advisors in the first instance. If we believe the value of your claim is below the £5,000 threshold, we’ll explain how to process the claim yourself online. Otherwise, one of our solicitors may be asked to review your claim to see if it is viable.
Importantly, these new laws only cover drivers and passengers in cars who have suffered whiplash. If a vulnerable road user (cyclists, pedestrians etc) are injured in an RTA, a normal personal injury claim would be possible.
If you’d like to check which type of whiplash claim you should make, please call our team for free advice today.
How much compensation can I claim for whiplash?
When whiplash compensation claims are made, the idea is that any settlement will help you to get back to the same position you were in before the accident occurred. The two heads of loss that you could claim for are general damages (based on the pain your injuries caused) and special damages (based on any costs you’ve incurred). Each claim is different but, generally, you could claim compensation for any of the following:
- The pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
- Loss of amenity i.e. any loss of enjoyment of hobbies or activities you couldn’t participate in because of your symptoms.
- Any loss of income if your injuries reduced your ability to work.
- The time a loved one spent caring for you while you were recovering.
- Rehabilitation and medical expenses.
- Travel expenses.
- The cost of replacing any personal property that was damaged during the accident.
Your solicitor will review your case thoroughly (if it is accepted) to try and make sure nothing is missed out. This is important because after you have settled the claim in full, you cannot request additional compensation.
Whiplash and neck injury compensation amounts
Current compensation guidelines for whiplash-type injuries to the neck, from minor soft tissue damage to injuries that may result in paraplegia or permanent spastic quadriparesis are as follows:
- For neck injuries that are classed as minor, anywhere from a few hundred pounds up to £7,890.
- For neck injuries that are classed as moderate, £7,890 to £38,490.
- For neck injuries that are classed as severe, £45,470 to £148,330.
Any compensation award may also include injuries to the shoulders, head, back, and nerve damage which can impact extremities such as the fingers and toes. When pursuing a whiplash compensation claim you should get legal advice from a solicitor specialising in whiplash claims who can go over every detail with you and then come to a compensation figure that they believe you would be entitled to.
What negligence could mean I’m entitled to whiplash compensation?
We’ve already mentioned that you could claim for whiplash injuries if your accident was caused by somebody else’s negligence. So, let’s take a look at some examples of what that means. You could claim for whiplash injuries sustained in an RTA that was caused by:
- Reckless driving.
- Road defects like potholes or sinkholes.
- The defendant was distracted by their phone or satnav.
- A multi-car pileup.
- A driver who was over the drink-drive or drug-drive limit.
- Road rage.
- A driver who failed to spot you before changing lanes or pulling out of a junction.
Compensation claims against the council/local authority are sometimes possible if the poor condition of the road caused your injuries. However, the council could defend the case if they can show that the road had been inspected properly and maintained in line with the responsibilities set out in the Highways Act 1980.
Whoever you believe is responsible for your whiplash injury, call today on 0800 652 1345 and let us review your case to see if we could help you to claim compensation.
Providing proof for a whiplash compensation claim?
To help prove you’ve suffered whiplash and improve your chances of winning a whiplash compensation claim, you could provide proof such as:
- CCTV or dashcam footage. This would make it easier to show how the car accident occurred.
- Photos. It’s also a good idea to take as many pictures at the accident scene as possible. Ideally, you should safely do so while all of the vehicles are still in situ.
- Witness details. In case your solicitor needs a statement to try and counter any objection relating to liability.
- Other driver’s details. It’s important to swap details with the other driver. You should try to get their name, insurance details, contact details and registration number.
- Police reference numbers. If the police attended your accident, ask for a reference number.
- A diary. This can help you to record events that your injuries prevented you from attending, the days you couldn’t work and any expenses you incurred.
As part of our free case review, an advisor will look through any proof for your whiplash claim you have available and suggest anything else that might be needed.
Medical evidence to support whiplash claims
If you do proceed with a claim, you’ll typically need medical evidence to help prove the extent of your injuries. For that reason, it’s important that you visit your GP or a hospital if you are injured in an RTA. By doing so, your whiplash will be properly assessed and treated. During the whiplash compensation claims process, you could request a copy of the medical notes (and any x-rays) from your appointment. These records could then be used to prove what injuries were diagnosed and any treatment that you received.
Additionally, the majority of injury claims require a report from an independent medical assessment. Your solicitor can usually make a local appointment with a medical specialist for this so that you don’t need to travel too far.
During your meeting, the specialist will talk with you about how any problems your injuries have caused. Then they’ll examine you and check your medical records. Once they have finished, they’ll submit a report to all parties involved in the claim to explain your prognosis.
Time limits for making a whiplash claim
As you may already know, there is a 3-year time limit for most personal injury claims in the UK. For whiplash claims, this is most likely to begin from the date of your accident.
Although 3-years is quite a long time, we’d advise that it’s often best to begin the claims process sooner rather than later. By doing so, you’ll find it a lot easier to recall the events leading up to the accident. Also, you’ll give your solicitor plenty of time to arrange for medical reports and evidence to be collected.
If your child has suffered whiplash, there’s no need to worry about the time limit. If you decide to become a litigation friend and claim on their behalf, you’ll be able to do so at any time before they become 18 years old.
No Win, No Fee claims
We believe a personal injury solicitor can increase the chances of you winning your whiplash claim and being compensated fairly. To allow as many people to benefit from their legal skills and experience, our solicitors provide a No Win, No Fee service for all claims they take on.
That means that:
- You don’t pay solicitors’ fees in advance.
- There are no solicitors fees payable if your claim fails.
- The claims process is a lot less stressful.
All of this will be confirmed in a contract called a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The CFA will also explain that a success fee will be deducted from your compensation if your claim is won. This is a fixed percentage of up to 25% of your settlement (capped by law).
To see if one of our No Win, No Fee solicitors could represent you, please get in touch today.
Start a whiplash claim today
If you’ve decided to take action and claim compensation for your whiplash injuries, we’re ready to help. The easiest way to begin is to call our team on 0800 652 1345. During your call, we’ll review your case and provide free legal advice about your options.
You’ve reached the end of this article about whiplash claims so if you have any additional questions, please use live chat to get in touch or arrange a free claims consultation here.