A whiplash injury usually results from a vehicle in which you are travelling being rammed from behind. Whiplash is one of the most common forms of injury caused in road traffic accidents. Roughly 20% of people involved in such collisions will end up with such problems. Insurance claims for whiplash injuries cost insurance companies hundreds of millions of pounds each year.
It is unfortunate that many of the claims made by people for whiplash injuries are not genuine. Because it is extremely difficult to prove that someone claiming to have sustained a whiplash injury did not have it, fraudulent claims are extremely difficult to detect.
The mechanics of such injuries are believed to be: The body is first accelerated forward but the head remains behind before jerking forwards and backwards. This abnormal movement often results in muscles or ligaments being stretched and torn. The muscles will, in an attempt to prevent excessive injury, contract and this reflex reaction will bring the head forward. Overcompensation often occurs and as the head travels forward the vehicle is simultaneously decelerating. This will lead to the head moving forward violently causing more tearing of muscles and ligaments. Headaches are another common symptom.
The majority of whiplash injuries are mild and will clear up after only a few days. A personal injury claim will not usually be made for mild whiplash injuries. However, in a small number of cases the injury may persist for many months and in some cases years. It should be noted that whiplash injuries will not appear for sometime, often more than 12 hours after an accident. And also when symptoms first appear they may initially get worse before recovering.
Standard procedure in treating a whiplash injury is to restrict movement in the neck. This can be done by encasing the neck in a supportive collar. A soft collar is generally used and some movement is generally encouraged after 24 hours.
The following approach should be followed:
If you have been in an accident that was not your fault and were unlucky enough to have sustained a whiplash injury then you are entitled to be compensated. In order to make a claim as straight forward as possible it is best to follow a coherent process.
This all depends on the extent of your injury. An injury with effects lasting 18 months will naturally receive far more than an injury that was fully healed within a couple of weeks. If the effects of your injury lasted less than two week most lawyers will advise against making a legal claim.
Generally, personal injury claims made for whiplash receive compensation of less than £5000 - typically between £1500 and £2500. For more minor cases where a full recovery takes place in a few weeks the awards of compensation can be as low as £750.
Very few whiplash cases make it to court as insurance companies are keen to obtain an out of court settlement. This means they will avoid the costs of going to court which they would pay if they lose. If, however, the insurance company makes you an offer of compensation which you refuse for being too small they will normally make another slightly higher offer. If this is also too low you can reject it and you decide to go to court. You need to be aware that if the amount of compensation the court decides on is lower than the amount originally offered to you by the insurers, then it is you who will be liable to pay the court costs. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on whether an offer is acceptable.
You don't have to settle for just cash. If you need further specialist treatment or special equipment to manage the effects of your injury, then this should be paid for by the insurers. Again you solicitor should be able to advise you. If you have been unable to work because of your injury then any earnings lost can also be added to your compensation. You can also claim interest on all of this money from the date you would have been in possession of it had it not been for the accident.
There is no definitive answer to this question. It can take anything from a couple of months to over a year to get paid out. Much will depend on the nature of your injury and how you dealt with it. A simple whiplash claim can be settled in less than 6 months, a lot will depend on the insurance company and on your solicitor. If there is a dispute about liability then it can take much longer.
Use the box below to put your question to a solicitor or barrister. You will usually have an answer back within minutes.