Whiplash Compensation

How much compensation can I claim for Whiplash?*

  • Whiplash (mild): £1000 – £4575
  • Whiplash (moderate): £4575 – £14500
  • Whiplash (severe): £14500 – £86500

*All claims are treated as individual cases based on specific circumstances. Contact us today to find out how much no win no fee compensation you might be able to claim!

Road traffic accidents occur throughout the world on a daily basis, yet this unfortunate reality is unlikely to provide much comfort to those who have been seriously injured in their vehicles. Furthermore, the families of motorists and pedestrians killed in such accidents will find no solace in the knowledge that fatal motorway pile-ups and roundabout smashes are occurring at an alarming frequency. However, if you have been involved in a relatively minor road traffic accident, it is worth taking note of your good fortune in otherwise unlucky circumstances. More importantly, it is worth taking note of the other driver’s personal details.

Indeed, even seemingly insignificant road traffic accidents can give rise to a difficult, troublesome and potentially long-lasting medical condition that is commonly known as ‘whiplash’. Typically affecting the muscles and bones of the neck and shoulders, whiplash can take days, weeks and sometimes months to fully present itself following an accident on the roads. This potentially painful and incapacitating medical complaint will often arise in the occupants of vehicles that have been shunted from behind, although the exact science behind the injury is complex and sometimes unpredictable.

Of course, just because whiplash cannot always be diagnosed immediately or proved with the naked eye does not mean that it is any less real or damaging to the people it affects. More to the point, none of these factors ought to preclude an injured party from receiving appropriate medical treatment and compensation. In fact, the law governing whiplash compensation is much the same as any tortious claim affecting personal injury and negligence. If you suspect that you are suffering from whiplash, our fully qualified lawyers can help you in your pursuit of justice and claim for damages.

No Win No Fee .co.uk Guide to Claiming Compensation for Whiplash Injuries

Overview

Whiplash injuries vary considerably in terms of severity, with the least serious of injuries resulting in virtually no symptoms and the most severe comprising neck fractures, dislocations or even spinal damage. As such, whiplash injuries need to be taken very seriously by those who are unfortunate enough to experience them.

A seemingly benign whiplash injury can mask a hairline fracture or severe neurological damage. Not all whiplash injuries cause symptoms straight away, which is why the victims of car accidents are advised against disclosing an apparently clean bill of health to insurance companies – at least not immediately.

Yet, despite extensive medical research and mounting personal injury claims, whiplash injuries are not always given the respect and due attention that they deserve. Traditionally, many doctors and insurance companies were dismissive of victims who claimed for whiplash injury compensation, in part because they happened to be sceptical of the merits of certain claims but chiefly as a result of limited knowledge of the injury itself.

However, the standard of medical science pertaining to whiplash injuries has improved enormously over recent years and doctors are now able to classify each case of whiplash according to a grading system devised by a Canadian government task force. Accordingly, compensation can now be claimed for by those who sustain whiplash injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is whiplash?

According to the National Health Service (NHS), whiplash is “the term used to describe a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways”. The requirement that whiplash is caused by a sudden movement can be extended a little to include any vigorous movement of the head that results in damage to the ligaments and tendons of the neck. The NHS describes tendons as “tough fibrous bands that connect muscles to bone”, whilst ligaments are referred to as “fibrous connective tissues that link two bones together at a joint”. Essentially, whiplash injuries cause the ligaments in the neck to become overstretched, which results in a simple sprain. However, as mentioned earlier, more severe whiplash injuries can involve dislocations, fractures and neurological damage. Needless to say, a whiplash injury can be far more than just a pain in the neck.

How can whiplash occur?

The main cause of whiplash is often cited as a rear-end shunt in relatively low-speed road traffic accidents (e.g. whilst stationary at traffic lights). However, whiplash injuries commonly arise from both high and low-speed impacts that can occur in any direction. In fact, the mechanics of a whiplash injury, as described above, merely require that the head and neck have experienced some kind of sudden and vigorous movement or change of direction.

The basic laws of physics mean that a person travelling in a moving object, which has itself suddenly stopped, slowed down or changed direction, will continue to move in the original direction of that object through the force of momentum. Where modern safety devices are involved, however, the speed and directional changes experienced by the person can often be compensated for by limiting motion. Seat belts, for example, aim to prevent the driver or passenger from leaving the car (in the event of a sudden stop or directional change) by nullifying the forces of momentum.

Likewise, airbags aim to absorb some of the forces of momentum by cushioning the forward motion of drivers and passengers. However, the reason why rear-end shunts are cited as the most common cause of whiplash injuries is that they often occur in such a way as to worsen the effects of momentum. Although many cars provide effective seat belts and cushioning air bags, the head-rests fitted onto passenger and driver seats do not always offer adequate protection when the head is forced backwards.

Following increasing numbers of car accidents involving whiplash injuries, many new cars now comprise seats and head-rests that are specifically designed to reduce the risk of whiplash injuries occurring.

Aside from car accidents, whiplash injuries can be caused in a variety of other ways. Indeed, any sudden blow to the head can cause a whiplash injury, which can be common in boxers, rugby players and accident victims who have suffered a slip or trip that has caused the head to jolt backwards, forwards or sideways.

In what ways can whiplash affect an individual?

A whiplash injury can be either extremely damaging or entirely negligible in terms of severity. There are four grades of whiplash injury, as identified by the Quebec Task Force (QTF) Grades of Whiplash-Associated Disorder: Grade 0 describes cases that feature no neck pain, stiffness, or any noticeable physical signs; Grade 1 describes cases that involve complaints of neck pain, stiffness or tenderness but do not feature any noticeable physical signs; Grade 2 describes cases that involve various neck complaints for which the examining physician is able to find decreased range of motion and pointer tenderness in the neck; Grade 3 describes cases that involve neck complaints displaying neurological symptoms such as decreased tendon flexes, weakness and sensory deficits; and Grade 4 describes the most severe cases of whiplash injury, which may involve a fracture or dislocation of the neck or injury to the spinal cord.

Therefore, a whiplash injury may result in no harm at all to an individual or it may cause an array of fairly serious symptoms. In the majority of cases, whiplash injuries could be described as Grade 1-3; instances of Grade 4 whiplash injuries are, relatively speaking, quite rare. Nevertheless, an accident victim does not need to suffer from a Grade 4 whiplash injury for it to cause debilitating symptoms and any amount of pain, discomfort or reduced mobility can have a serious effect on a person’s ability to go about their everyday business.

Worse still, as will be discussed in more depth below, even Grade 1-2 whiplash injuries can lead to long-term or chronic conditions that are characterised by further pain and suffering. In respect to the average low grade whiplash injury, however, symptoms tend to be limited to short-term (weeks to months) pain, swelling, discomfort and reduced mobility.

What are the long-term effects of a whiplash injury?

Fortunately, a significant proportion of whiplash injury cases (around 60 per cent according to the NHS) report improved or fully treated symptoms within one to four weeks. As with most sprains, a low-grade whiplash injury usually responds well to sufficient amounts of rest, medication and gentle physiotherapy.

Unfortunately, a small number of whiplash injury cases give rises to complications that can extend the lifespan of symptoms. In fact, severe whiplash injury cases can last for six months or longer, which qualifies them as chronic or long-term conditions. Prolonged whiplash injury symptoms can seriously impact on an individual’s ability to lead an ordinary life. Driving, for instance, is simply not an option for those who suffer from chronic whiplash injuries, as the patients are usually unable to drive safely. Work is also a problem for many chronic whiplash injury sufferers, who may also experience depression and anxiety, which can in turn result in further physical and psychological conditions.

Can whiplash be cured?

In the vast majority of cases – even those relating to chronic injuries – whiplash injury victims will notice significant improvements in their health within a month of sustaining the injuries. Basic treatments for low-grade whiplash injuries include placing an ice pack on the affected area for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, as this will help to reduce inflammation (the ice should not be in direct contact with the skin but can be pressed against it through a towel).

Ibuprofen, which is an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is commonly used to reduce pain and swelling in the neck after a whiplash injury has been sustained; however, those who have asthma, high blood pressure, kidney failure or heart related problems may wish to consult their doctors before taking ibuprofen. As with any drug, ibuprofen should only be taken in the quantities prescribed by a doctor.

Wearing a neck brace can also aid the victims of more serious whiplash injuries, who may also need to avoid exercise and heavy lifting for several weeks or longer. Conversely, NHS guidelines suggest that whiplash injury patients ought to exercise as much and as often as possible, albeit not to the point of causing additional pain or discomfort. It is advisable to undertake only the most basic exercises before gradually increasing the range of movement. Physiotherapy and osteopathy techniques can also help to relieve the symptoms of whiplash injuries whilst also aiming to provide a cure.

What steps can be taken to avoid a whiplash injury?

Where accidents occur, it is not always possible to determine or even influence how they may unfold. Likewise, a sudden and unexpected blow to the head is not an occurrence that the average person can realistically expect to avoid in all circumstances – not everything is within an individual’s control. In the case of road traffic accidents, however, there are plenty of cars available that feature excellent anti-whiplash components. The Toyota iQ, for example, was unveiled as the safest car available (in December 2009) in terms of anti-whiplash protection – at least according to European car safety organisation, Euro NCAP. Having scored 2.7 points in respect to rear impact safety, the Toyota iQ stacked up favourably to the Citroen C3 Picasso (0.3 points) and the Ford Kuga (0.4 points).

Claiming Compensation for Whiplash Injuries – Further Information

How much compensation can be claimed for whiplash injuries?

Simply put, it is not feasible to allocate an arbitrary figure to a whiplash compensation claim without first assessing the severity of the injury and the particular merits of the case. Compensation for whiplash injuries can range from £1,000 or so to around £86,500, so the availability of damages depends on a variety of factors. In assessing a whiplash injury compensation claim, the court will look at the impact the injury has had on the claimant’s life. If the whiplash injury has, for example, left the victim unable to work or go about his or her everyday business for any significant length of time, the judge will assess this in calculating the compensation available. The severity of the injury and its symptoms will also be given a thorough examination in order to arrive at an award that adequately compensates the victim for their injuries.

What information is needed to claim compensation for whiplash injuries?

Whiplash injuries should be treated in the same way as any other type of injury that might arise from an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. However, whiplash injuries are sometimes late bloomers in the sense that symptoms can be hidden for a considerable period of time – even hairline fractures may be disguised until they start to show symptoms several years later. Although most whiplash injuries tend to feature symptoms such as pain, reduced mobility and inflammation, it is essential that anybody who suffers an accident (of any description) receives a full medical check-up.

In order to increase the chances of a successful whiplash compensation claim, the injured party must obtain as much evidence of the accident as possible, including details of all other parties involved (vehicle registration, insurance particulars, etc). This will include photographic evidence of the accident scene (ideally this will show how and why the accident occurred), independent medical evidence and written statements from eye witnesses. If the whiplash injury came about as a result of a road traffic accident, it is also important to avoid speaking to the insurance company immediately after the accident. Indeed, in all cases, a specialist personal injury solicitor should be contacted for professional legal advice.

No Win No Fee.co.uk is one of the leading whiplash claims specialists in the UK, having helped thousands of people obtain the level of compensation that they deserve. Operating on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, we are able to provide accident victims with a little extra financial security as they push for the maximum compensation available. If you have suffered a whiplash injury in the past 3 years that was not your fault, contact us today for a no obligation discussion.

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