How do I claim whiplash compensation?

Whiplash injuries are among the most common car accident injuries and are often the centre of a significant volume of road traffic accident claims.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is what’s known as a soft tissue injury. More specifically, it is a neck injury that occurs when your neck muscles hyperextend. In the context of a road traffic accident, it is most common to suffer whiplash injuries when another driver hits the back of your vehicle.

However, you might also suffer whiplash if you brake suddenly to avoid hitting the vehicle ahead of you or another obstacle, such as an animal or pedestrian.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

If, after a road traffic accident, you’re experiencing neck pain, difficulty moving your head, headaches and dizziness, these are potentially due to a whiplash injury. While you might have started experiencing these immediately after an accident, the symptoms of whiplash can take up to 12 hours to develop.

In addition, some people will only suffer whiplash symptoms for a few days, and around 90% of people fully recover within three months. However, others may experience pain and suffering from whiplash symptoms over the long term – sometimes for many years.

When can I make a whiplash injury claim?

You can bring a claim if you were the driver or passenger in a vehicle and the accident that led to the injury wasn’t your fault.

How do I make a whiplash injury claim?

You will usually need to make a claim using the Official Injury Claim portal. Read our guide to the Official Injury Claim portal to understand what it is and how you can use it. There is nothing to stop you from taking legal advice and pursuing your whiplash injury claim by other means.

It’s also possible to start your claim using Official Injury Claim but continue the claims process with a personal injury solicitor if you’d prefer this approach. If the accident occurred before 31st May 2021, you can’t use Official Injury Claim. You will need to speak to your insurer or take legal advice to start your claim.

The most significant part of bringing a whiplash injury claim – or any personal injury claim – is obtaining medical evidence documenting your injuries.

So how much whiplash compensation can I get?

It depends on the extent of your injuries.

Following whiplash reforms in 2021, compensation payouts for whiplash injuries are based on a tariff, rather than you being sent an offer that the other party’s insurer deems acceptable.

For example, if you suffer a whiplash injury and recover within three months, like around 90% of people do, then the maximum compensation you’ll receive is £240. The compensation cap rises gradually in three-month increments up to whiplash injuries lasting up to two years, for which you could receive £4,215.

Your compensation can increase slightly (by £20 if you recover within three months) if you’ve suffered “minor psychological injuries” on top of whiplash.

In exceptional cases, courts have the power to increase your whiplash compensation award by up to 20%. While many whiplash injury claims never make it as far as court, you can take legal advice to help you decide if this is a path you should take. In addition, should you pursue compensation via Official Injury Claim, you can only turn down a maximum of three compensation offers before you must go to court.

When making a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident, you’ll also be able to claim what is known as special damages. This covers things like expenses for travelling to medical examinations or monies lost if your injury meant you couldn’t work. If your claim is successful, then your legal costs will be covered by the other party’s insurer as standard.

How does making a whiplash claim work?

Firstly, you need to prove that the other party was at fault for the accident. If the other party doesn’t accept liability, you may need to take photos of the accident location (if you didn’t at the time of the accident) and provide other evidence.

Once you have proven liability, this is where your medical evidence comes into play.

How long will it take to get whiplash compensation?

It depends on various factors, not least the severity of your whiplash injuries.

For example, if you recover within three months and the other party admits liability, you might get your compensation quickly.

In contrast, if you have a long-term whiplash injury, you could be waiting longer than two years to receive your compensation. This is because a solicitor will likely advise you to wait out the prognosis of your injury.

Such an approach means you can fully understand the injury’s impact on your life and get the full amount of compensation you deserve. For example, were you to accept compensation after six months but were still experiencing whiplash symptoms two years after the accident, you wouldn’t be able to bring another claim.

How long do I have to make a whiplash claim?

You can start a claim up to three years from the date of the accident or the date when whiplash symptoms first appeared. If at any time during the claims process you go past the three-year cut-off, you will need to escalate your case to court to ensure it remains valid.

Considering these factors, it is always best to start a whiplash claim – or any personal injury claim following a road traffic accident – as soon as possible. This allows for all medical evidence to be gathered and for doctors to track your recovery progress to ensure you get the compensation you’re entitled to.

What if an uninsured driver hit me?

You can still bring a whiplash injury claim but would seek compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) rather than from the other party’s insurer.

Can a whiplash claim be refused?

Yes, if you’re deemed to have been at fault for an accident or a medical examination determines that you didn’t suffer a whiplash injury. You might also have a claim refused if you don’t provide medical evidence or insurers have reason to believe a claim is fraudulent.

2021’s whiplash reforms were brought in after years of insurance companies being seen as a soft touch and a perception that receiving whiplash compensation was a given. However, you can still get the compensation you deserve if you bring a genuine claim.

Need assistance with your whiplash injury claim? Contact us now

At LawPlus Solicitors, our team of personal injury specialists have years of experience in helping people in your situation get the compensation they deserve after a road traffic accident.

Contact us here for a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim.

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