Whiplash is caused by a sudden jolt or stretching of your neck which damages the ligaments. The most common causes of whiplash are traffic accidents, although it can occur in a variety of ways. The symptoms include swelling, headaches, dizziness and pain. In almost all cases, whiplash limits your mobility and can sometimes stop you going to work and/or driving while taking the time to recover.
In many cases, whiplash can be resolved within a few weeks with just a small amount of treatment. However, in some cases where whiplash is more serious, the symptoms may continue for a longer period of time. No matter the severity of your whiplash, if the accident that caused it was someone else’s fault then you may be able to make a personal injury claim.
If you do decide to pursue a claim for whiplash, our specialist team will consider what impact the injury has had on your financial situation, as well as the pain you’ve suffered and any implications that the injury may have on your future. Our expert team of friendly lawyers specialise in nothing but personal injury and illness. We are accredited by The Law Society and have advised thousands of clients in relation to whiplash injury claims. You can call us on our Freephone helpline on 0800 195 95 90 for a free, no obligation appraisal of your claim.
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FAQ About Whiplash Compensation:
Whiplash symptoms often vary from person to person, mainly depending on the situation in which the injury occurred and the treatment they received immediately thereafter. Most common whiplash symptoms include headaches, a stiff and sore neck, lower back pain, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, and in severe cases even pain or discomfort in the arms and legs.
The symptoms can be felt immediately, or they may take a few days to develop following the incident.
Many cases of whiplash can be recovered from over the span of a few weeks with just a small amount of treatment. However, in some cases where the whiplash was serious, the symptoms may continue long-term. Some of the most common whiplash treatments include:
Keep Moving Your Neck
After suffering from whiplash, it is vital that your neck remains mobile. Try not resting the area for long periods of time. Recovery can be much quicker and the movement in the neck improved if it is kept mobile, despite any pain. Pain in the neck after whiplash is common, and movement will unlikely result in further damage to the area. In many cases, normal activities should be resumed. Laying down or sitting should be avoided for prolonged periods of time. Stiffness in the neck can be reduced by undergoing a controlled course of exercises for the neck. For the best neck exercise after whiplash, read the NHS whiplash leaflet.
You can also try some of the following methods to help with recovery and reduce any pain that the whiplash may be causing:
- Use a neck supporting pillow. Using a supportive neck pillow has helped a number of people sleep after suffering from whiplash. Multiple pillows and sleeping on the front of your body should be avoided.
- Warm pressure. To help to sooth the pain of whiplash, pressing a hot water bottle that has been prepared at a warm temperature to the area can be very beneficial. This can be done a few days after the accident, multiple times a time, for periods of up to 15 minutes.
- Use ice packs. While heat can help after a few days, ice can be more beneficial directly following your accident. Ice packs, or packs of frozen vegetables, can relieve swelling and sooth pain when applied multiple times a day for periods of up to 10 minutes at a time.
- Ensure your posture is correct- an upright position, straight back, and good posture, both when moving and stationary, can help with whiplash. Adjustments should be made to account for the whiplash, like moving your computer screen or chair to ensure good posture.
Physiotherapy After Whiplash
For symptoms that have not eased over a couple of weeks, you could be referred for physiotherapy. During a session, a physiotherapist is likely to ease the symptoms of whiplash by undergoing a number of physical techniques, these include, but are not limited to:
- Massaging the area
- Gently performing a manipulation of the neck
- Suggesting and helping with exercises for the neck
You can either pay for treatment privately or go through the NHS, where your GP may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
LONG TERM EFFECTS OF WHIPLASH
There are two terms given to long-lasting whiplash in cases where symptoms have lasted for a span of 6 months or longer; late whiplash syndrome and chronic whiplash. In cases where you are suffering from long-term whiplash, there is not much evidence scientifically to state which treatments will have the most beneficial effect. In many situations, the treatments that have already been listed are still advised. When your symptoms last for more than 6 months, contacting your GP regarding an appointment with a pain clinic can give you access to continued support and medical treatment going forwards.
Talking to your local GP in regards to support, both medically and psychologically, can also help if you feel that you are unable to manage your whiplash symptoms. More advice is also available on our neck injuries compensation page or upper body injuries compensation.
HOW DO I MAKE A WHIPLASH CLAIM?
There are many stages of making a whiplash claim. The first stage starts immediately after the accident has taken place. In cases where you have been in a vehicle collision, if you believe medical attention is needed, then you should contact the medical emergency services immediately. If you feel like it is not an emergency then visiting your GP or the hospital after the accident is still important, both to gain access to any needed treatment and to get confirmation that the accident has resulted in a whiplash injury.
In collision accidents, when everyone is safe, it is important to exchange the required details with all parties involved. If the other driver didn’t stop, the number plate should be written down. Photographic evidence and witness statements can also be of great use for making a claim, and these should be taken as soon as possible after the accident. Try to capture pictures and videos of the scene, as well as any damage to property. To form a case that has a good chance of being successful, then all information gathered at the scene will be very important. The company that handles your insurance should also be contacted as soon as you are safely away from the scene of the accident.
When you are ready to take legal action against the party that caused the accident, then you should contact a solicitor at Smith Jones so that we can walk you through the claim process, start an investigation into your case, and start forming your claim.
How Much Time Does It Take to Make a Claim for Whiplash?
In the November of 2015, the Chancellor George Osborne declared that his intention was to put an end to monetary compensation in cases of whiplash injuries that were minor, replacing it instead with treatment and physiotherapy compensation. However, this does not have any effect on cases where the whiplash is serious and severe injuries have been sustained due to the accident. Also, it is not only road traffic accidents that can result in whiplash injuries. They can also occur when a person trips or falls, both in a workplace setting and on the street.
When Are Whiplash Claims Able to Be Made?
Whiplash claims normally have to be made in the space of 3 years after the accident has taken place, as long as the person claiming was not at fault for the accident and there is either another individual or an organisation that was at blame. The main exception to the rule is for children that were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, in these cases the 3-year period begins from the day that the claimant turns 18.
Normally, if the injury did not last for a period of 2 months, then a whiplash claim cannot be made.
How Much Time Does a Whiplash Claim Take to Process?
Two main factors play a big role in how much it time it will take for a case to be processed. These are the complexity of the accident and claim, and the accident that brought about the injury. Cases where the road traffic accident is not complicated, the value placed on the claim is not disputed, and where the third party admits that they are liable, then these cases could be resolved within a period of 4-7 months after the claim has initially be made.
In cases where the circumstances surrounding the road traffic accident are complex and an investigation has to be undertaken to discover who is liable, or the injuries that were sustained during the accident need extensive treatment to properly analyse their severity, then case closure and settlement can take around a year or more to be resolved.
A whiplash claim that is brought about due to a fall or trip normally requires an organisation to be found liable. Depending on the accident, this may be the local council or an employer. These claims can be resolved in the space of 6 months after such a time when the organisation has admitted liability and any injuries sustained have been quickly evaluated.
THE WHIPLASH CLAIMS PROCESS
To properly process and prove a claim, information about the accident has to be thoroughly collated. The individual claiming compensation must receive an assessment of their injuries from an independent medical professional. Negotiations can only be begin regarding the claim when the medical report has been fully completed. This stage requires the admittance of liability on behalf of the other party.
There is one exception to the process, the denial of liability. In this case, the insurance company of the defendant will be given 12 weeks in which to state that liability will be contested, and must, in that time, give their own evidence as to why.
Putting a Value on the Claim
The independent medical report is normally used to put a value on the claim. Any expenses or monetary losses that have occurred as a direct consequence of the accident will also need to be quantified. Once the full amount has been calculated, and a settlement offer has been established, your whiplash claim will then be sent to the insurance company of the defendant. They will have a period of 3 weeks to assess the offer and reply.
In instances where a counteroffer is provided the insurance company will receive 4 more weeks in which time we will endeavour to negotiate the best possible settlement for you.
In cases where the injuries suffered were complicated and subsequently made the case more complicated then putting a value on the claim and starting the settlement process will take substantially longer.
The Litigation Needed
If liability cannot be agreed upon, court proceedings may need to be initiated. If the insurance company of the defendant does not provide a settlement during the 7-week process, or value is unable to be established that both parties can agree to. While a large number of cases do not continue through the full court process, the process of litigation can extend to 9 months before the date of the final hearing.
In cases where a settlement cannot be reached outside of court, it may take anywhere from 1 to 4 months for a settlement date; this will be the date of the court hearing. Most situations will not require the claimant to go to court.